To date, I have had close to 3.6M views and over 1800 quotes and close to 500 likes for a post in Twitter. As the Twitter language would put it – I was ‘ratioed’ (not grammatically correct but as those that coined this would say – who cares!). It means that there were more dislikes (and reactions) than likes from various sectors.
We all know that Twitter has very limited character typing and you really cannot keep making a whole trail of events, but let’s capture that now in the proper context. [Apologies if the context was not provided the way people wanted the whole story told.]
I run a company (own) that is hiring additional personnel. We are a healthcare industry. There were several applicants. We interviewed them all. Decided on one qualified applicant. Invited the applicant over for the the job offer. Discussed with the applicant that we offer a month of sick leave, vacation leaves, all convertible to cash and cumulative (which means if it is not used this year can be used in subsequent years for tenure incentive). There’s also a 14th month pay and profit sharing bonus. The pay was above average standards for the industry [which means that we’d be shaving from our budget this year but well, we just needed to be fair to the employees in these trying times].
The applicant requested to ‘think about the offer’ and get back to us in 7 days because the family was traveling outside the country. Although we needed the placement ASAP, I acceded. HR informed the applicant to decide soonest so that we can fill the service gap, which is vital in the healthcare industry.
After 2 weeks, I requested HR to kindly follow-up with the applicant on the decision. The applicant said, yes, but there was an added request – to provide additional paid vacation leaves.
Of course, I was stunned because that would mean that if we gave in to one, we would need to change the whole company handbook. And that would mean also additional expenditures for the company. [Please remember that providing added leaves would mean we are understaffed and that would mean hiring more people again and the vicious cycle continues.]
And at the end of the day, we compromise patient services resulting in poor patient care.
I asked politely why the applicant needed additional PAID LEAVES. The reply was that the applicant had several circle of commitments outside of work – friends, social organizations, bonding time with colleagues for networking purposes and exploring additional opportunities outside of working for us.
While the applicant was qualified, we did not share the vision that the healthcare industry cannot have a similar work life balance relationship the way the applicant envisioned. [Note here is that we encourage people to use their leaves so that they can have a good work life balance. Unfortunately, we cannot over stretch this to more than a month.]
In fairness to the company, during the lockdowns, we drained resources in order to provide private shuttle services to and from work for the workforce. We provided added sick leaves and COVID19 leaves with pay. We sent swab kits to the families of the workforce when anyone was sick or needed to get tested. The HMO coverages to employees who got sick and needed hospitalization came in handy.
The healthcare business is different from other industries. And without having to sound offensive to the dissenting Twitters out there – is not comparable to any other work from home or hybrid playground you are currently in. Sure you can get a consultation online with a doctor who may be sipping Margarita enjoying the sunset in an idyllic resort, but that’s not the right way to assess sick patients. You will most likely miss 50% of the right diagnosis and make as much error in prescribing the right medicine with an online consultation, especially for acute illnesses. [I’m not saying a virtual consultation does not help, I’m just saying it’s not the ideal way of seeing acutely sick patients and may increase morbidity if not addressed correctly.]
The gap in the delivery of healthcare services is palpably felt not only in the Philippines, but globally as well. That’s why our healthcare workers prefer to leave for better pay and opportunities to care for foreigners rather their own people. I cannot blame them.
But we have a nation of 115M Filipinos to care for. A sizable chunk is the growing elderly population whose medical needs have incrementally increased during the pandemic. As a matter of fact, they were the most vulnerable and it was heart breaking to see friends and relatives succumb to this. Then there were those who came down with COVID-19 and post-COVID problems (long COVID). This took a toll among patients from all walks of life.
The healthcare industry was affected mentally, emotionally and economically. Healthcare workers who were my dearest friends passed away from COVID. Many of the frontline healthcare workers simply gave up from sheer exhaustion and moved to office jobs. Many older doctors just closed their clinics and went into retirement. Hospitals and clinics were understaffed. And the cycle of surges and lockdowns and deaths pushed other healthcare workers into just throwing in the towel. While we are seemingly at a better situation today than three years ago, the first three years of the pandemic upended many things.
The pandemic allowed innovation and technology to be part of the solution at the front and center of the work force. This allowed the economy to push on, albeit slowly, in the local and global front. Undoubtedly, the Philippines still had the poorest working conditions especially in the health sector. Underpaid. Overworked. The government did not care for its healthcare work force leaving them begging for the scraps that were promised and due them.
Many left the country. And that created wider gaps in healthcare. Hospitals now run at half its bed capacity because we have a shortage of work force – in all areas. Often times, a procedure would have to be moved to another day or that you’d need to wait in vain for a bed – not because we have no room at the inn. But because we have less people to care for the sick. And it’s heart breaking to see your next of kin, father, mother, brother, sister, friend or family wilt away or have to move from hospital to hospital because of the challenges the pandemic created in the healthcare system.
Today, we’re trying to rise out of the rubble of a pandemic.
This was explained to the applicant and sadly, it ended in a no deal.
The frustration here is that the applicant could have told us earlier during the negotiations what other wants, requests and other needs the applicant needed. If it was unacceptable from the get go, then we both could have walked away and not wasted each others time.
Now it’s back to square one. A whole month wasted on interviews, offers and negotiations.
In the meantime, the sick are piling up across the hall.