Employment managers are working harder and more creatively to retain their best talent, especially given the stresses and challenges companies are facing during rollout of the Affordable Care Act along with other industry dynamics, Edwards says.
“Every organization is asking every employee to do more with less, take on more duties,” he says. “There is more emphasis on employee engagement and satisfaction, so you can reduce that cost of turnover (and) reduce the stress it puts on the organization when you have positions vacant. ... There is that trend to go to a 'rewards mentality'—to look at the overall package. It's not just, 'We've got a base salary or an hourly wage, plus a benefits package.'"
Joey Dizenhouse, healthcare consultant with Towers Watson, agrees that healthcare providers are facing a major overhaul in how they do business, which, in turn, affects how they work to attract and keep employees.
“Fundamentally, (the industry) is undergoing an overhaul. Something as simple as how they make money is changing,” he says. “Providers will over time be more rewarded for potentially using fewer services. ... They're looking for ways to strategically position themselves. A lot of them are growing through acquisition. Figuring that out means bringing on new groups of people, and all the people issues associated with that.”
Mike Horton, retirement practice leader at Towers Watson, has heard plenty about cost cutting, too. “I've heard from a number of clients that traffic is down in the emergency rooms, the beds aren't filled, they're looking at cuts in their reimbursement rates, they're looking at reducing the cost of providing medical care,” he says. “They definitely have to strike a balance between being an attractive place to work ... and delivering medical care at a very small profit margin.”
Creative benefits and rewards have definitely been part of Aspen Advisors' human resources strategy. The No. 1 small employer provides a $1,000 bonus at the three-year anniversary and a four-week paid sabbatical at five years, says Shawna Schueller, director of marketing and business development. And Aspen provides quarterly bonus incentives based on performance. “We have high expectations, but several employees each quarter go beyond them,” she says.
Jones of First Transitions says he has received several requests recently to help structure what he calls “stay-put bonuses” for key people clients want to make sure they keep. “They want those people to be there during whatever time frame when there is all this change going on,” he says. “You take care of your best people. In times of changes, those are the people most likely to be recruited elsewhere. We want to work hard to retain those people who are high performers.”
Healthcare benefits are one of the central items that attract top talent, starting with medical insurance, but also including pharmacy, vision, dental, disability coverage, wellness policies and more, Dizenhouse says. Hospitals and other healthcare providers hold an advantage over other types of employers in that they have the ability to steer their employees to their own operations, which more of them are doing, he says.
Pay and benefits are among the most significant differences between companies that made the Best Places to Work for 2013 and those that did not. Employees of top 100 employers were satisfied with their pay 82% of the time and benefits packages 89% of the time, while responses from employees of companies that didn't make the cut were 68% and 75%, respectively.