Work-life balance practices for scaling up health workers productivity in public hospitals in Kenya: a case of Mandera County
Ibrahim, Abdikadir Khalif
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The delivery of health interventions requires skilled and adequately supported health personnel. Work-life balance is the maintenance of a health workers balance between responsibilities at work and at home. The inadequacies of work-life balance practices in public hospitals has become a major concern among health workers resulting to high absenteeism and lateness, less time spent in clinical care, and increased patient waiting time. The general objective of the study was to establish how work-life balance practices influence the scaling up on health workers productivity in public hospitals in Mandera County. The specific objectives of the study were; to determine how flexible working options can influence the scaling up of health workers productivity, to establish how health worker welfare programs can influence the scaling up of health workers productivity, to assess how talent development influence the scaling up of health workers productivity, and to determine how leave programs influence the scaling up of health workers productivity in public hospitals in Mandera County. The study is expected to assist the management of public hospitals in Mandera County, to implement work-life balance practices to scale-up health worker productivity aimed at achieving better health outcomes and contribute towards strengthening health systems. The study adopted a descriptive design and a mixed method of both quantitative and qualitative research approaches to data collection. The study targeted 450 health workers and a total of 212 employees were sampled purposively. Data collection was done using a structured questionnaire and key informant interviews. Quantitative data was analyzed using SPSS v22 and descriptive and inferential statistics were used to discuss findings according to the study objectives. The study found that flexible working options for healthcare workforce are found to be crucial for good performance in productivity and found to be present in all public hospitals in Mandera County but not implemented to full scale due low number of health workers in the County. Leave programs such as annual leaves, study leaves and maternity leave were also found to play a critical role in enhancing productivity especially after leave and that talent development is crucial for the motivation of health care professionals in productivity. Health worker welfare programs such as incentives, fringe benefits, and financial returns were also evident in the Mandera County public hospitals. The study concludes that the various work-life balance strategies such as flexible working options, health worker welfare programs, leave programs and talent development are positively significant for the health workers’ productivity and determine the overall performance of hospitals. These strategies were found to be present but not fully implemented. Hospitals should therefore implement these strategies to full scale in order to spur or scale up their employees’ productivity. It is recommended that Mandera County hospitals upgrade the health workers well-being programs as this would increase the productivity of the health workers. Employers should incorporate health promotion policies as part of their work-life balance policies. The county government also should implement security risk allowance in their health workers’ welfare programs to promote attraction and retention of health workers in the county public hospitals to contain health worker shortages in the working area.