A growing population and rapidly ageing demographic are combining to place significant challenges and pressures on health care firstline workers – the people who engage with patients directly – and management.

Despite differences in their day-to-day responsibilities, new research from Microsoft Australia released today has revealed that firstline workers and business managers in the health care sector experience similar workplace pressures.

In an online survey commissioned by Microsoft and conducted by research firm, YouGov, over 1,000 working adults employed in four industry sectors – health, retail, manufacturing and public sector – were surveyed. The research looks to establish what are the greatest challenges and pressures workers face and to identify the types of solutions employees want to help alleviate them.

Pressure mounting for healthcare workers

The research revealed that business managers and firstline workers experience similar pressures in the workplace. The top three pressures identified by respondents – firstline workers and business managers – are managing health and well-being, handling fatigue and workload and managing deadlines and expected outcomes.

The greatest pressure identified by more than three quarters of health care firstline workers (77 per cent) and more than two thirds of business managers (68 per cent) is maintaining their health and well-being.

Three in four firstline workers (75 per cent) expressed difficulty in handling fatigue and workload compared to 66 per cent of business managers. This was followed by the pressure to meet deadlines, identified by 71 per cent of firstline workers and 68 per cent of business managers.

Across all industries, a connected, engaged and collaborative workforce is essential to business success, none more so than the healthcare sector.

Effective patient care is a direct result of an engaged and satisfied firstline workforce including doctors and nurses. The research revealed more than a quarter of health care workers (26 per cent) are committed but not engaged in the workplace.

Ian Heard, Modern Workplace Lead, Microsoft said, “Employee engagement goes right to the heart of an organisation, particularly in the health care sector where patients’ lives and health are on the line.

For healthcare providers, employee engagement and satisfaction are closely linked to patient satisfaction. A passionate, connected and engaged firstline promotes positive patient care and propels an organisation forward.

At Microsoft, we empower firstline workers by providing them with digital tools to streamline processes and operations, create greater collaboration and teamwork and increase staff satisfaction. Healthcare organisations which create an engaged, connected and collaborative workforce will be better poised for success in the long-term.”

Technology transforming the workplace

The proliferation of technology in the healthcare sector has the potential to play a strategic role in helping to alleviate the pressures firstline workers and business managers face.

Forty per cent of firstline healthcare workers are provided with limited access to the latest technologies in the workplace. fifty-six per cent of firstline workers and 70 per cent of business managers expressed access to devices as a means to provide smart and simpler tools for daily tasks. Furthermore, almost half of healthcare workers (42 per cent) would use devices in the workplace to increase employee engagement and satisfaction in the workplace.

“In an age where digital has become more prominent, traditional methods are becoming far less effective with workers feeling frustrated and unmotivated by the disconnect experienced from management.

At Microsoft, we recognise the value of having access to the latest technologies including devices as a tool to bridge this disconnect and enhance communication. Microsoft’s Surface Go which is now available in Australia, has been purposely designed to support firstline workers in the healthcare sector, streamlining existing processes and operations and proving smarter and simpler tools for daily tasks.”

Half of firstline workers (50 per cent) and 43 per cent of business managers also expressed clearer communication from the executive leadership team to alleviate workplace pressures. This was followed by the desire for greater access to training by 46 per cent of firstline workers and 33 per cent of business managers.

The findings of this research support the launch of new capabilities into Microsoft Teams, facilitating streamlined communication and collaboration between business managers and firstline workers. This includes Shifts, a new feature which enables management to create schedules and firstline workers to swap shifts and request time off.

Healthcare workers will also have access to Teams via a mobile app, giving them access to rostering, to-do lists and important organisation-wide announcements.

In addition, live and on-demand events, now generally available in Microsoft 365 enable staff to create and stream events including training sessions in Microsoft Stream, Teams, or Yammer, informing and engaging employees from management through to the firstline.

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