Teams in Outpatient Therapy and Sports Medicine are celebrating their temporary reassignments on a bulletin board of Frontline Heroes Working Outside the Box.
In January, Celeste Cramer, system director of Recruitment and Retention, was making her recruitment goals for the year. Her to-do list included filling more than 1,000 positions by hiring from outside the organization.
For Cramer – and the rest of us – 2020 is not going as planned.
In the past two months, Cramer and the Human Resources team have transitioned to an entirely new set of goals. They want to balance the health system’s needs while reassigning internal staff members whose work has changed due to COVID-19.
“We have created new positions rapidly and we have completely pivoted to redeploy our internal people,” Cramer says.
‘We have a unique chance to take care of each other’
CoxHealth has long prided itself on being a top place to work. The pandemic has helped us prove it by placing employees in new roles, protecting their pay during a national crisis.
“This has definitely been a chance to demonstrate to our employees that we are there for them when they need us most,” says Andy Hedgpeth, vice president of Human Resources. “We have a unique chance to take care of each other.”
The past few weeks have been a whirlwind of staff reassignment. Employees are taking on new challenges and finding an appreciation for CoxHealth teamwork.
Hedgpeth says staff’s willingness to come in and get the work done is a reflection of the spirit that makes CoxHealth a great place to work.
“It has been awesome to see people stepping up and embracing doing something different than what they were doing just a few months ago,” Hedgpeth says. “We have been able to pivot in a moment of a crisis and make sure we are prepared for our community.
“Taking this opportunity to flex to other areas has given everyone a renewed perspective for how we are an interdependent ecosystem. It takes every person, doing every single thing.”
Employees are stepping into new roles in high-need areas
So far, CoxHealth has redeployed more than 400 employees. Cramer says volunteers “ran headfirst” into roles areas of need, such as units with COVID patients and areas that needed people to serve as PPE monitors.
Many times, reassigned staff members are working in their skillset; other times, they are doing tasks entirely unrelated to their original roles.
Staff members are paid at their usual rates, no matter where they are assigned, a move that was supported by Administration. In the rare cases when a staff member is reassigned to a role with higher pay, he or she receives a pay bump.
Cramer says employees have been up for the change.
“We had directors whose employees were hesitant, but then their co-workers tried it and liked it. They started sending selfies,” Cramer says with a laugh. “It has been empowering for people to try different things. It keeps growing — we have been able to do all of this with employees who volunteered.”
The reassignments began with new necessary positions, such as temperature screeners for entrances and support for supply chain management.
Then, HR began to look at employees who would need to be temporarily reassigned as areas reduced services to prepare for COVID-19.They coordinated many of those staff members to fill 39 open positions in areas such as Environmental Services and Food Services.
Most recently, HR created 150 temporary positions. They range from making masks, to PPE observation, to tending to delayed maintenance in our facilities.
“We have been so fortunate to have had historically high volumes that some maintenance items had been pushed back,” Hedgpeth says. “This has given us a chance to regroup and capture some of things while other areas are shuttered.”
‘We are personally invested in employees’
Cramer says as service lines ramp back up and staff return to their regular roles, HR will continue to staff the new roles, such as entrance screeners, that will be with us for a while.
“Our work with making sure people get hours will continue,” Cramer says. “We may tweak based on volumes, but this may go on, in some form, for a year.”
Although it has been a challenging few months, the work has been especially rewarding for the team in Human Resources. There is a sense of ownership in helping our people through a crisis like COVID-19.
“When I look around, these are people we recruited and hired. Our kids go to school together and we know them,” Cramer says. “As a local organization, we are personally invested in them. We care about each other, and we are taking care of our friends, family and neighbors.”
Hedgpeth says he sees the current situation as a once-in-a-career opportunity to serve our team members.
“Our organization has allowed HR to be front-and-center in decision making. Leadership has embraced our ideas, from creating COVID pay to finding meaningful work for our staff,” Hedgpeth says. “I have the sincerest appreciation for employees and their willingness to focus on our mission and embrace something completely different. It reinforces why we are a best place to work. It makes me fiercely proud of this organization.”
Be watching the CoxHealth intranet for profiles of our colleagues who are taking on temporary roles throughout the system.