Wednesday, 09 September 2020 18:00

Australian frontline healthcare organisations helped by Workday to battle COVID-19 pandemic

By Guest Writer

COMMISSIONED RESEARCH The devastation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has challenged the capacity of many frontline healthcare organisations to provide the full range of community support expected of them. The healthcare sector’s challenges have been captured in a new study by Workday, a leading provider of enterprise cloud applications for human resources and finance, in partnership with technology market intelligence company, IDC.

Almost 200 organisations in Australia and New Zealand participated in the study. Nearly three quarters (74%) of Australian organisations surveyed admitted they struggled to realign organisation structures, or to track people skill sets for special taskforces during COVID-19. The same proportion said it was difficult to make changes to their HR or financials plans, budgets, and forecasts during COVID-19.

Six months into the pandemic and there has been no let-up in the enormous pressure under which the healthcare sector is operating. As a result, new models of health care have been introduced with the rate of implementation accelerating to meet the persistent spread of the virus.

Telehealth and digital access have come to the forefront, and mobile testing units have been designed, created, and deployed. Even as new systems are being delivered it remains critically important to look after the safety, well-being and performance of the healthcare workforce, to support and protect them as they go about their work in the face of the pandemic. 

Two Australian high-profile healthcare organisations – the Salvation Army and St Vincent’s Health Australia – can point to successes in tackling the impacts of the pandemic through using Workday’s cloud-based Human Capital Management platform.

St Vincent’s Health Australia (SVHA) is the nation’s largest not-for-profit health and aged care provider. It operates six public hospitals, 10 private hospitals and 20 aged care facilities in Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria. SVHA employs more than 20,000 staff, provides more than 3,000 hospital beds and 2,400 residential aged care places.

The Salvation Army is renowned for the critical support nationwide it provides to Australians struggling to cope with a wide range of community issues. The high profile Christian charitable organisation mobilises a workforce of 112,000, made up of officers (ministers), employees and volunteers operating out of 1,000 physical locations across Australia.

St Vincent’s Health Australia

David Bryant, Group General Manager People, Culture and Communications, St Vincent’s Health Australia, said the business had to dramatically transform its operations under COVID-19 restrictions and Workday enabled this to happen.

When the government restricted category 2 and category 3 elective surgeries, St Vincent’s Health Australia had to make drastic changes to staffing. They had to look at future leave accruals, schedule staff leave, and balance rosters.

“The stopping of surgeries meant that almost overnight we had staff who weren’t doing anything. I seriously shudder to think how we would have coped without Workday being in place to save us from so many issues,” Bryant said.

With Workday, St Vincent’s Health was able to undertake Workforce Planning and communicate to all staff through Workday Announcements. They were also able to track all the certificates and skills required from staff moving from private to public hospitals to assist in the pandemic response and load the training onto Workday.

According to Bryant, “All this new training was created in just 10 days, uploaded and made mandatory which would have taken up to a year to do in a normal situation.”

Bryant reflected on the “significant struggle” it would have been to manage this task. “Without the Workday platform, inaccuracies would have been inevitable, creating stress within the organisation. There would have been the stark potential to not deliver the service and support our patients’ needs. Workday saved us that stress.

“Overall, we calculated that we have done a year's worth of change in our public hospitals in just a month thanks to Workday. It's been that phenomenal.”

 The Salvation Army

 The Salvos were called in early by Woolworths, to support the exclusive 60-minute shopping window for the elderly and those with a disability. Uniformed Salvos were there to assist, retrieving items high on shelves, pushing trolleys and getting groceries back to people’s cars.

 Catherine Valsinger, HR Transformation Manager at The Salvation Army, said: “The Workday solution is proving a powerful data analytics tool assisting in scenario planning and decision making by the organisation since the arrival of COVID-19.

“In practical terms, Workday’s HCM solution is facilitating us to identify customer facing front line workers who are over 65 and moving them to other roles. We are able to determine the number of casual workers with more than 12 months service to understand Job Keeper payment expectations. Another important advantage is the ability to identify and check numbers of paid workers in teams to assist with potential redeployment planning. Workday also allows us to add new allowances to manage the distribution of government payments.”

Stephen Jack, Managing Director and Vice President, Workday Australia and New Zealand, said: “The COVID-19 pandemic has brought into focus the importance for businesses to be digitally agile. So many healthcare organisations around the world have had to make significant changes to their human resourcing plans at short notice and this has highlighted the importance of having the right technology backbone in place to make strategic and informed decisions. In Australia, the Salvation Army and St Vincent’s Health Australia are no exception and Workday ensured they were able to adapt and change as needed. The milestones they are achieving in supporting their people and the communities they serve is heartening.”

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