Attracting top talent is one of the most pressing challenges facing health systems across the country.
But retaining employees once they’re hired can be even more difficult. Each age group tends to view work differently, adding further potential complications.
Still, it’s possible to create environments where everyone can thrive.
“The value of healthcare (as an industry) is that there is something for everyone,” said Deborah Visconi, president and CEO at Bergen New Bridge Medical Center in Paramus, New Jersey.
Workplace satisfaction depends on intentional and sustainable actions from leadership, especially regarding staff feedback.
Visconi said it’s vital for those in positions of power to follow up on concerns and take substantive steps to solve problems. To facilitate communication, she carves out time in her schedule for employees to have a meal with her.
“It’s about listening to the associates on the front lines,” she said. “Really listening to them … with the intent of collaborating with them to find a solution to whatever the issue is.”
“People want to be heard,” said Aimee Claiborne, chief human resources officer at Dartmouth Health, based in Lebanon, New Hampshire. “They want to feel like they contribute … in a meaningful way.”
Dartmouth disseminates employee engagement surveys and forms focus groups incorporating viewpoints across experience levels. In doing so, the organization hopes to start cross-generational conversations and spur change.
Community building also plays a key role in helping workers stay connected.
Providence uses caregiver resource groups to invite staff members across service lines to share their perspectives with each other.
“People believe with their heart, not their head,” said Dr. Amy Compton-Phillips, the Renton, Washington-based health system’s president of clinical care operations. “So it’s not necessarily sharing facts on what other people experience, it’s showing their story and the emotion behind it.”
In addition, many health systems are prioritizing innovative approaches to allow for more remote work, which is increasingly important for younger employees.
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“In a lot of ways, it’s going to become the future of work,” Claiborne said. “Gen Z, for example, is really thriving.”
The potential benefits of in-person professional interactions vary among workers.
“Now as we go back to work, we are finding some differences,” Compton-Phillips said.
Bergen New Bridge offered roles in telehealth services to some clinical staff who wanted to work remotely.
“For us, it was really about meeting them where they were, understanding, respecting it and trying to put things together that would make them feel respected and their voices heard,” Visconi said.
The healthcare industry will be forced to adapt to a changing world, leaders agreed. Systems that can spin up creative solutions will have an easier time attracting top talent, they said.
“Healthcare has to pivot,” Claiborne said. “Infrastructure has to change to accommodate what people’s preferences are. The traditional ways of doing things that might have worked won’t work in the future.”