The workforce is constantly evolving and companies across all industries are adapting to ever-changing employee desires. Smart employers are striving to create a positive employee experience. That requires constantly refining how they approach human resources to ensure that they can continue to recruit and retain top talent.
From flexibility and competitive compensation to professional development opportunities and a focus on wellness, workers are seeking out desirable benefits when deciding where they want to work. While every industry has its own challenges, the unique characteristics of the healthcare sector have caused it to lag behind other industries in some respects.
I came into my position as chief human resources officer for Banner Health, one of the largest nonprofit hospital systems in the U.S., without any healthcare background. But we have moved to adopt fundamental principles for growth to ensure that we are serving the needs of current and future employees.
To help become an ideal “Employer of the Future,” we have implemented a three-pronged strategy:
1) modernization, to attract the best talent
2) customization, to develop and retain existing team members, and
3) efficiency, to make work easier for each of our team members.
This strategy is helping us to live our mission: just as Banner has worked hard to optimize all aspects of the healthcare experience for customers and patients, we are equally dedicated to meeting the needs of our diverse, demanding workforce.
For HR professionals working toward similar goals, these five tips are essential for recruiting and retaining top talent, regardless of your industry:
Flexibility is key to recruiting and retaining top talent. Employees today want to decide how, when and where they work. It can be as simple as allowing employees personal options in how they dress, while still aligning with company policy. This may not be a new concept in every field, but it is not yet common in healthcare. Another option is flexible scheduling: allowing people to work less than full time or a modified work schedule. Banner, which is the largest employer in Arizona, offers telecommuting options which have led to more than 2,200 team members working from home.
Customized career paths
It’s increasingly important to balance what employees want today with what they will want tomorrow. More and more, employees want to create their own career ladder, instead of feeling confined to a narrow path. They also want more transparency — knowing where they stand and receiving more frequent feedback.
Particularly at large organizations, policies need to work for a diverse base of employees with very different jobs and life experiences, ranging from Gen Zers to Baby Boomers and beyond. Workforce diversity is growing across all industries, and we, as HR pros, must customize our approaches and our interactions with employees to make sure their needs are being heard and addressed.
For example, physician burnout is a very serious issue in healthcare nationwide. Physicians have far different wants and needs than other employees, so we created a Physician HR Team to ensure that we listen to them and tailor our approach to better support them. We also created a Physician Development and Experience Team to help us design a new mobile technology, the Clinician Experience Project.
This technology offers short suggestions for physicians on all facets of their work. Whether it’s how to help a patient more efficiently, how to have a courageous conversation with a colleague, or how to improve patient experience scores, this library of over 600 insights and bits of advice, provides a tailored value-add for our talented physician community.
We all develop job descriptions with criteria we would like new hires to meet. However, don’t let these expectations hinder you from making unorthodox strategic hires. Sometimes a person without the expected background will bring a fresh perspective that will shake things up for the better. Banner has made a conscious choice to hire from outside healthcare. We currently have 26 executives from other fields, including banking, retail, hospitality and customer service, and this shift in hiring is serving us very well.
Creativity and innovation
Fostering creativity throughout the workforce is critical for employee satisfaction and for ensuring your organization continues to innovate and evolve. Redesigned workspaces can help boost creativity and collaboration. Giving team members the opportunity to share work space and ideas is an inexpensive perk. Other strategies, such as “Focused Fridays” which consist of no meetings and limited emails allowing leaders to spend more time with their front-line team members and reimagined meeting agendas that put rules in place for meetings, including when, who, and how long they should be, can optimize productivity and balance collaboration with other demands on employee time.
Technology that helps
Technology has changed workflow, productivity and information access, but often with added burdens for workers who are already under pressure. We are implementing a new human capital management system to help streamline processes.
Our HR department utilizes 11 different systems, but unfortunately, most don’t talk to each other. An employee might complete their annual goals, but those goals don’t download into their performance evaluation, which in turn doesn’t load into their compensation or their development summary. So, we’re deploying new technology to collapse those 11 pieces into one.
During rounds, nursing staff regularly visit each patient on a unit or meet with physicians or other colleagues to discuss each patient’s progress, setbacks, etc., since the previous rounds.
Banner recently rolled out a rounding app for our nursing leaders that helps them better address the needs and wants of our patients, as well as better engage with their direct reports. The app notifies housekeeping to clean a room once a patient checks out, recognizes team members on the spot for outstanding service, follows up on patients and medication, and sends out other alerts. These features help nursing leaders focus on what’s most important — their patients and team members.
Employees are the heart and soul of any organization and HR practices must embrace that truth. The more you work to understand what your employees want and need and what really motivates them, the more you’ll be able to recruit and retain the very best people.