Preparing Your Teams for 2021

By Lauren Forbes, RHIT

With 2021 right around the corner, now is the time to get your team ready for a fresh start in the new year. Let’s face it, 2020 was tough, however, we continued the best that we could. There were many unknowns and obstacles thrown at all of us in 2020. As always, the new year gives us opportunities. We have opportunities to learn more, transform ourselves, build our teams and strengthen our minds.

Overcoming obstacles has been a theme for many in 2020. The pandemic changed our way of thinking and working. In order to adapt to a constantly changing landscape, we had to move workflows and staff quickly to a virtual environment Let’s take what we experienced in 2020 to make 2021 a better year!

  • Will working remotely be a permanent fixture for your team?
    • Review workflows and remote teams. If some workflows and staff can continue working remotely when the pandemic is nearing the end, this should be taken into consideration as a potential permanent change.
    • If on-site work continues to be a need for your team, can there be a blended remote and on-site team that can be created to allow for more flexibility among your team? Having the blended option may allow for smoother transitions as we approach the decisions for permanent workflows for the future.
  • Mental exhaustion is real!
    • This was a hard year and a lot of us are ended it with mental exhaustion. A lot of vacations and time off were cancelled. Many concerns arose, i.e., furloughs; changes in volumes due to reductions in elective procedures; and new virtual visits, affecting many of us.
    • Make sure your team (and you) take time off to get away from work. Even a few days for a staycation can clear your mind and have you come out feeling refreshed.
    • Reading books, learning a new skill or working in a favorite hobby can allow for some relaxation during these stressful times.
    • Encourage your teams to take some time off and get re-energized for 2021.
  • Time off planning for 2021.
    • With cancelled vacations in 2020, many vacations are not being scheduled for 2021. To avoid a mass PTO request towards the end of the year, make sure that you monitor your team’s PTO balances to avoid being short staffed or needing to decline PTO requests.
    • Encourage your teams to use their PTO throughout the year to get a break from work. We do not know what to expect in 2021 and we want to make sure our teams are taking these much-needed breaks.

January is the time for fresh starts and new beginnings. Allow for extra time to do additional training and team building with your team. Take that extra few minutes a day and check in with them to see how they are doing and how you can assist. Review and update the expectations for 2021 with your team and make any necessary adjustments as needed. Having survived the challenges in 2020, we are more capable of making 2021 a better year!


About the Author

Lauren Forbes, RHIT is the Senior Health Information Operations Manager at Ciox Health. She is an active volunteer on the WHIMA Membership Engagement Team. Lauren can be reached at: