The worst times can bring out your best. Over the past year, CoxHealth employees have shown that as individuals, and as a team.
Now, those efforts have earned CoxHealth recognition as one of Modern Healthcare’s Best Places to Work.
It is an honor we all share. While we won’t know until September where we placed on the final list, now is a great time to reflect on the years of effort and dedication that got us here.
“This recognition is the culmination of many different people across the enterprise doing their best to advance this organization,” says Andy Hedgpeth, vice president of Human Resources. “It’s not the award, it's all the work that goes into making sure that you're in contention. All the day-in-day-out practice that makes you good, so that when the time comes, you are ready.
“For us to receive this honor the heels of the year we have just been through is an incredible source of pride. It is a reflection of the thousands of people who are so fiercely committed to this organization.”
Hedgpeth says receiving the honor in a year of COVID-19 shows that trust is strong between CoxHealth’s team members and our leadership.
He remembers vividly a conversation he had with President and CEO Steve Edwards early in the pandemic. We knew we would have to suspend some services. The financial situation was anything but clear.
While many organizations were forced to lay off staff, CoxHealth’s leaders committed to doing everything they could to retain our teams - through the pandemic and into the recovery.
“We we talked about our mission, our vision and our values, and being the best for those who need us,” Hedgpeth says.
CoxHealth had managed well and had reserves for a rainy day. Faced with a rainy year, leaders made the decision to keep investing in employees.
“What better way to put our money where our mouth is and embody our values. This was the moment to do that, and in that moment we made the right call.”
The response included expanding remote work, flexing our labor pool and quickly starting the school care program.
“Everything was geared around how can we take care of our employees and make sure that they they feel absolutely 100% secure,” Hedgpeth says. “In one of the most perilous times in our history, we said we are going to take care of people. We made a commitment.”
ENGAGING EMPLOYEES FOR CHANGE
So what makes CoxHealth stand out among employers nationwide?
Celeste Cramer, system director of Recruitment and Retention, led the effort of applying for the recognition. She gathered information on everything from benefits and diversity and inclusion efforts, to retention and communication channels to keep staff informed.
“The application process gave me a great sense of pride about the organization to see all the things we do to support and engage our workforce,” she says.
She was struck by how many of those efforts involve directly engaging our teams and acting on their input. Everything from the Recreation Council to the Innovation Accelerator shows how much effort goes into listening to employees.
“That is why it is so important for everyone to respond to surveys,” Cramer says. “We are constantly trying to gauge what we need as an organization. We need everyone to use the platforms we have to make their voices heard. We need all of us invested in supporting one another.”
That employee focus extends to another of Cramer’s passions: growing talent from within.
“I was most proud of our work on employee and leadership development,” she says. CoxHealth stands out because of efforts like our RN to BSN program, tuition reimbursement, and newer projects like our MA apprenticeship program.
“We don’t just hire people and say, ‘good luck,’” Cramer says. “We really try to map through career pathways that not only benefit our workforce but also benefit our patients as we get more staff in harder-to-fill areas.”
Hedgpeth agrees that the honor reflects CoxHealth’s commitment to staff, which is especially rewarding in a year of COVID-19.
“To receive an honor of this magnitude reaffirms all of the steps we have taken. It shows that if we continue to take care of our employees first, they can focus on taking care of our patients. When they can do that without having to worry, they are able to provide exceptional care. That is the embodiment of why I went into human resources.”
WHAT WE’VE LEARNED IN A YEAR OF COVID-19
As we look back at the year that led to the Modern Healthcare honor, Hedgpeth reflected on a few lessons we have learned:
- Employees can trust their employer and CoxHealth can can trust its employees.
“We took care of them, knowing that we would need everyone to rise up and help with the backlog of people who need care. We needed staff to step up and they did. The social contract that ‘We can trust you and you can trust us to work collaboratively together’ is still alive and well.”
- Our employees are incredibly resourceful and flexible. As staff members were reassigned, they stepped up in new roles and gained an appreciation for what others in the organization do daily.
“All of our jobs are really difficult. Sometimes it's easy when we are in our own silos not to understand what other people have to deal with. There is more appreciation for working collaboratively and understanding that patient care is complex and challenging. I think we'll see that appreciation reflected on our engagement survey."
- We need to support one another’s mental health, as an organization and within our teams. Everyone has worked at a heightened pace for the past year. Now, many of us are experiencing the stress of processing what we have been through.
“I want to make sure we have the infrastructure and the platforms in place to support our employees in need. We are committed to doubling down on offering a really comprehensive EAP and additional resources to try to support our people."
- We have to consistently re-recruit our current staff to make sure we keep the best on our team.
“It is a fiercely competitive labor market out there and people have options. I want to make sure that they don't get recruited out from under us because of how great they are. I want to help people see that there's no greater place to be than here and there's no greater opportunity to grow than right now.”