After hearing from employees that they didn’t need that kind of support at the moment, Marimn did not go forward with the plan. But the fact that employees saw the organization’s willingness to take such actions to meet their needs helped increase the level of trust at a time when the system had to take all-hands-on-deck approach to addressing the health needs of their community, Dunn said.
Another factor that contributed to increasing trust between leadership and staff during this time has been Marimn’s commitment not to lay off anyone but to instead repurpose workers to fill other areas that were not shut down due to the pandemic, like having swimming pool lifeguards work as parking attendants.
“Everybody had a job to come to every day even if it wasn’t their regular one,” Dunn said.
Job security and the pandemic aside, many of this year’s Best Places to Work in Healthcare winners had already been trending toward giving staff greater flexibility in balancing their workloads.
“When people aren’t stressed about their benefits or about doing what they need to do to take care of their families, they’re able to focus a lot more on work and be more productive,” said Nick Culbertson, CEO and co-founder of Protenus, a healthcare compliance analytics firm based in Baltimore.
Protenus has an unlimited paid-time-off policy and provides 12 weeks of paid time off for new moms and dads. The company had already instituted a work-from-home policy prior to the pandemic that resulted in nearly one-third of full-time staff working remotely. Culbertson believes having those policies in place made it easier to transition 100% of staff to work from home during the pandemic. Companies would benefit from starting their relationship with employees from an assumption of trust, he added.
“At a lot of companies, when you start work, you immediately go on probation for 90 days before you get a lot of benefits and get treated like any other employee,” Culbertson said. “Things like that just give off the tone that the employees and the employer are not on the same team.”
Dan Burton, CEO for Health Catalyst, said assuming positive intent from employees has been the reason why the firm offers its full package of benefits to staffers starting on their first day of work. Burton said such actions establish the kind of trust needed during times such as these, when organizations and their workers are relying more heavily on each other to get through the economic challenges caused by the pandemic.
“There has to be a system that reinforces at every stage that team members matter,” said Burton, whose company employs about 1,000.
Nick Loporcaro, CEO at Landmark Health, agreed that establishing a relationship with employees built on trust played a key role in the organization being able to successfully transition most of its staff to working from home, with employees unlikely to return to the office until next year.
As part of its employee benefit offerings, Landmark established a program that provides reimbursement of up to $2,000 a year for child care or senior care. During the pandemic the company has provided each employee with a free subscription to the relaxation app Calm.
“People like what we offer as a mission but also in everything else we practice as an organization in taking care of our team members,” Loporcaro said.
Enhancing some family-friendly concepts took on an even greater priority during the pandemic at organizations like Conway Regional Health System in Arkansas. Benefits already included paid paternity leave, paid time off for volunteer work and tuition reimbursement. But during the pandemic Conway expanded its offerings, including converting a gym to provide free daycare services to employees and offering free meals in the hospital cafeteria, as well as discounted, prepared take-home meals.
Conway CEO Matt Troup said such benefits have helped retain higher levels of staff engagement, which he said correlates with employees’ perceptions of the organization being a family-friendly place to work. He said that requires leaders to show they are concerned with the lives of their employees and their families.
“We always try to ask ourselves how we can make work meaningful for our team,” Troup said. “People want their work to have meaning and purpose and being family-centric is certainly high on people’s list when you ask what’s important to them.”
Best Places to Work in Healthcare - 2020