Duration: 5 min. read
Management & Operations
Have we already transitioned from the Great Resignation to the Great Reengagement? For the last 2 years, most companies were rightly focused on replacing the people who were leaving, but for the most part that already has taken place. So why not focus our energy now on the people staying?
If you’re a health system leader, this idea should hit home. If you reengage your employees, they never get to resignation because they have something to hold onto, whether that something is a career opportunity, a mentoring relationship, an employee networking group, or a social justice initiative.
Reengaging for the long-term
Here are a few strategies I use at Quest to keep our employees and leaders engaged in our company and in their own work lives.
- Use inclusion to drive long-term diversity. As the pandemic began to recede, there were a lot of conversations at Quest about how we should acquire new employees, and where we should go to build our workforce diversity. When I looked at front line, just over 70% of Quest employees are women. But those numbers shrink as you move up to more senior positions. So we clearly have gender diversity here: where we need to focus is on inclusion when it comes to development. That’s one reason I decided to rebrand Diversity & Inclusion as Inclusion & Diversity. I’d encourage health system leaders to flip this conversation around as well and ask what you’re doing to retain the diverse talent you already have. What initiatives will you use to create an environment where all people, regardless of race, ethnicity, or gender, feel like they have a home and that they'll get the opportunity to thrive? We’ve just got to develop that talent with more inclusive behaviors.
- Build culture by fostering belonging. At Quest we talk about creating community connection, as well as the importance of expanding connection opportunities to the front line. As in health systems, it’s important to develop practices that also touch frontline workers, not just professional staff. That’s one place our 11 Employee Business Networks (EBNs) come in. These networks create a platform to engage new colleagues as well as senior leaders, to support advocacy and education, access leadership development opportunities, drive community involvement, and influence business strategy. Our EBNs run the gamut of networks from Veterans to Hispanic/Latino, Pride, and Caregivers. Regional EBN chapters allow us to get to the front line, since our third shift is our largest. Meetings here might be at 2:00 AM rather than 2:00 PM, for example. Looking to start an EBN-like group? My suggestion is to start by following the voice of your own employees. They will tell you which networks are needed the most. Then ask for volunteers and get organized. Create a strategy as you would for a small business. Plan events. Establish a budget. Then course-correct along the way.
- Inspire trust in your talent. Although we focus on acquiring diverse talent at Quest, we continue to invest in developing and mentoring existing employees as well. In addition to participating in a leadership academy with a major consultancy that has specific cohorts for Black, Hispanic/Latino, and Asian employees, we are putting the finishing touches on a foundational training program called “The Speed of Trust.” This name reflects our belief that when leaders understand the value of getting their employees to trust them, they will build new credibility that yields dividends in greater retention and development of new skills.
"When leaders understand the value of getting their employees to trust them, they will build new credibility that yields dividends in greater retention and development of new skills."
- You’re in healthcare, so push for health equity. We do whatever it takes to support the communities in which we operate. To demonstrate our commitment, we’ve donated $100 million to help close the healthcare disparity gap in the US and partnered with QuestCAN, our Community Action Network EBN, to lead volunteer efforts like food and coat drives, vaccine fairs, and testing events. As part of our Quest for Health Equity initiative, we are sponsoring efforts that support more facets of social determinants of health. In New York, for example, we fund the curriculum for Green Bronx Machine, a program which grows and harvests healthy foods in classrooms. Participants not only grow the food; they also learn how to harvest and cook it, and they take these nutritional lessons home to what are often multi-generational families. Access to nutritious, fresh foods is part of health, so it’s part of our community programs as well, and it’s deeply meaningful to our employees.
- Acknowledge bias and work to reduce it. Bias in health systems has been a hot topic recently, and not just for employees. Race, weight, and other factors also influence how equitably patients are treated by caregivers. It’s a hard thing to confront but I always advocate for opening up to the truth. We all have biases. We try to help employees acknowledge bias, understand how it shows up for them, and more importantly, work with them on how to mitigate it. In the case of job interviews, we try to ensure that the interviewers are diverse, not just the applicants. This step helps you offset bias, as does interviewing everyone for the same amount of time, asking the same questions, and not cutting the interview short because a person might not be qualified in your mind based on an unconscious bias.
Engagement prevents regret
In closing, I’ll point out another “great” trend to be aware of: the Great Regret. This happens when someone jumps to another job, realizes the grass is probably a similar shade of green compared to where they’ve been, or sees that the new job is missing something they used to value in their previous role. My point is, why let a great employee get to that point? At a time when engagement is missing from too many jobs, focusing on building engagement will pay dividends in retention that will do wonders for your recruitment as well.
In the second article in this series, I’ll share some strategies we’ve used to ensure the programs we develop stand the best possible chance of being understood, attracting participation, and succeeding.