Recruiting workers is a top priority for every healthcare organization today. Getting the right people in the right jobs is no easy matter and hiring mistakes can be disastrous. Most of you have witnessed what one bad apple can do to morale and the culture of any company, especially if that individual is in a key executive position.
Making sure that the right people are hired is a tough assignment, but it's only half the story, because you have to make sure you do the right things to keep outstanding people on the team. And that takes plenty of savvy, insight and sensitivity on management's part.
So when a good friend stopped by to see me one recent day, I was very interested in what she had to say about this topic. She has one of the best minds in the healthcare industry. She's been a marketing and strategy consultant for a number of years after spending a considerable amount of time in medical equipment sales. I always listen to what she has to say because she has a knack for identifying new trends in their infancy.
Instead of just answering my inquiry about how to keep workers happy, she had a question of her own: "How many leaders in healthcare today know how to deal with women?" I admitted I didn't really know but that I imagined most chief executive officers in healthcare don't really differentiate between their male and female workers. I could tell by the look in my consultant friend's eyes that my answer didn't satisfy her. That's when she threw some data at me that I had never heard before. For instance, she told me that in any hospital women amount to 70% to 80% of the workforce.
She also pointed out that when a female nurse comes to work she usually has a husband and a couple of kids at home that she already has cared for. When the RN gets to work she has to take care of patients. On her way home, the nurse may stop by to take care of an ailing mother or father.
The point she was making is that nurses are under a lot of stress, and too often many healthcare leaders don't understand the different challenges many women face in their day-to-day lives. It's one reason women need to be represented in key executive positions across an organization, to ensure that women are treated with respect.
Eight provider organizations appear to be doing a solid job of just that, winning places on Working Mother magazine's latest list of "100 Best Companies for Working Mothers." They are Bon Secours Richmond (Va.) Health System; Bronson Healthcare Group, Kalamazoo, Mich.; Inova Health System, Falls Church, Va.; JFK Medical Center, Atlantis, Fla.; King's Daughters Medical Center, Ashland, Ky.; Northwestern Memorial Hospital, Chicago; Pitt County Memorial Hospital, Greenville, N.C.; and St. Mary's Medical Center, Huntington, W.Va. Northwestern was named best in its industry.
The people who run Northwestern clearly have put a lot of effort into keeping their female workers happy. And they should. Seventy-eight percent of its workforce are women. Seventy-two percent of the system's top wage earners are women and last year, the number of women managers increased 22%.
More than 24% of Northwestern employees have children 12 and under, making its full-time on-site child-care facility invaluable. In addition, the hospital offers before- and after-school programs, school holiday care, summer camps and "parents' night out" care. All hospitals are open 24-7, so flexible work hours are a must for employee morale, productivity and retention. Northwestern allows compressed workweeks and part-time hours for its employees.
The payoff for any healthcare institution, says Carol Evans, CEO and president of Working Mother Media, is that "employees often report that flexibility and child-care programs specifically keep them from accepting other job offers."
Cindy Barnard, director of quality strategies at Northwestern and a single mother of two, says her supportive work environment helps her family life. "I think this hospital celebrates 'best people' who live fulfilling lives, including families and community-service commitments. The ability to attend a school function, accommodate a sick kid or go on a field trip-that's worth a great deal."
Any organization really is about its people, and unless they are treated with dignity and respect and made to feel they are part of something meaningful, they eventually will find another place of employment. A good man or woman is hard to find in any economic climate and those top executives who understand that are the ones who will enjoy the fruits of success in the future.
I thank my consultant friend for bringing her perspective to me. I congratulate those eight healthcare organizations with the foresight to keep their female workers happy, saving time, money and effort in the process.
Keep the future in mind,
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Lauer is the author of two books, Reach for the Stars and Soar with the Eagles, and is an experienced guest lecturer available for public speaking engagements. For more information, visit www.chucklauer.com