gggg

2020 Training & Development Trends for Frontline Healthcare Associates

As we enter this exciting new decade, what are the “can’t miss” tactics that healthcare Learning and Development (L&D) Directors should not miss out on? One “trend” probably isn’t the takeaway here, the key insight is that training opportunities will occur seamlessly in the flow of work. Compartmentalized trainings, like reading a manual, are being phased out. On-the-job training with immediate application is the way the associate adult learning world is moving. With every associate now connected via devices, technology, and push notifications, employee training has followed suit. L&D initiatives drive more holistic and integrated training opportunities, with targeted micro-learning experiences leading the way.

What are the top training and development trends for frontline healthcare associates in 2020 and into this new decade?

The Definition of a Leader is Changing; Core Soft Skill Training is a Renewed Focus

The ‘Leadership’ definition is broadening in U.S. health systems, and the traditional org chart doesn’t capture what a leader is. Systems are considering individuals to be leaders based on impact, not just on authority. This makes sense for frontline healthcare workers, as these associates are the face of your organization to your patients. A leader for these roles is a top-performer in their specific role. As the definition of leader has changed, core skills are a renewed focus. There is now greater demand for development programs which teach communication skills, critical thinking, collaboration, and customer service, all of which aim to improve long-term employee value and productivity.

Movement from Boss to Coach Changes Learning Interactions

Top-Down management is pivoting toward Partnership-Coaching management. “Because I’m the boss” is becoming a relic. Today, effective managers realize that coaching is the way to motivate and engage their team. Managers want employees who will perform and grow, and this happens when managers are partners who enable. In the book The Heart of Coaching, by Thomas G. Crane, transformational coaching is discussed. This author discusses how manager-coaches should be clear in communication, challenge employees by looking for positive ways to stretch and develop skills, and build collaboration on the team. As managers make this transition to coaching, this will change the employee L&D experience. Manager/coaches will look for ways to tie any corporate training to every day applications, and build 1×1 “teachable moments” to reinforce L&D. Training and development won’t be top-down, just like management won’t be top-down. Training will be an opportunity for associates to interact and receive positive coaching instead of an HR driven mandate.
For more on this topic, see our related article, “Frontline Employees: Coaching For Success.”

Adaptive Learning via Analytics – It’s not just for Clinical Roles any more

Adaptive Learning is a way to enable personalized learning to scale. No student learns at the same rate. Adaptive learning works by assessing learner performance and activity in real time, then using analytics to personalize content to reinforce concepts that target each learner’s strengths and weaknesses. Most often this will result in knowledge retention, increased confidence, decreased frustration, and improved results. Adaptive learning is most used in industries that rely on manual labor and experience high levels of employee turnover such as the healthcare, retail, transportation, and hospitality fields.

In hospitals, adaptive learning technology is used to train staff in essential functions such as the on-boarding process, customer service standards, and role specific training. Adaptive learning can meet employees at their own level, regardless of unique backgrounds or geographically separated locations. Adaptive learning helps employees get up to speed quickly and acquire the skills needed to make immediate impacts in alignment with health system goals. At this time adaptive learning is typically only offered within clinical roles. The New England Journal of Medicine, for instance, creates adaptive learning courses for physicians to maintain certification and receive continuing medical education. But in this new decade, adaptive learning could help transform corporate recruitment and employee development on the front-lines. For example, instead of requiring Certified Nurse Assistants or Health Aides take a 120-hour training, systems could offer micro-accreditation to make training for these hard-to-fill roles more appealing to adult learners.

There is a Need to Train Associates for New Digital Interaction Jobs

With changes in technology, and younger consumers preferring digital interaction, hospitals will be challenged to prepare Frontline workers for jobs which don’t even exist yet – think Administrative or Medical Records roles that involve Social Media outreach and interaction. Digital interaction will also change Medical Assistants and Technician roles that deal with Teledoc customers, or keep health records organized, especially as care moves away from large hospitals to quick-care and community- based health centers. As hospitals become more invested in social media and engaging patients online, entry-level workers will need to be trained on how to provide positive customer experiences in a virtual setting. If your system hasn’t started a social media strategy yet, this will probably soon change, especially as patients begin to shop for healthcare the way they shop for cars or electrician services—by searching the Internet, looking for quality metrics and patient reviews, and comparing prices.

Another digital trend is Chatbots, and it might replace some administrative type roles. But that doesn’t mean Frontline workers in these positions will necessarily be replaced. It means they will have to be trained to meet the new demands of the technology. In the new decade, imagine associates learning to analyze data from patient wearables, associates teaching patients how to use wearables at home, and moderating Telehealth forums to interject and provide patient care when the chatbot is unable to resolve a question or issue. These are just a few examples of how digital interactions will drive future training and development needs for health systems in 2020 and into the decade.

Microlearning

Although microlearning certainly is not new, this trend in associate development will continue and get stronger in the coming decade. Microlearning breaks down new skills and concepts into small individual chunks to be consumed, one topic at a time. These learning modules can be completed while an employee continues in their professional role, allowing associates to incorporate new information into existing work routines almost immediately. Health systems often do not find it feasible, nor affordable, to pull staff cohorts from their day-to-day operations and send them to participate in a training program. Microlearning modules can be assimilated during mere minutes of an associates’ day by using mobile platforms and interactive technology to deliver learning in small bursts. Microlearning is especially well-suited to the information-gathering style of millennials, who are used to rapidly scanning and can have shorter attention spans. And gamification elements in microlearning can show associates how they stack up against peers and allow them to earn badges, which is also appealing to younger learners.

While microlearning is not new, the trend is a realization that traditional LMS microlearning is no longer enough to meet employees’ expectations. A one-size-fits-all, 20-minute course on “Leadership” for any role in the hospital no longer works. Content needs to be based on a specific employees’ role and portray situations and experiences which an employee could see on the next shift. For more information on this topic, see our related article, “Microlearning: What is it, and why should it be used?”

Are you familiar with CLiMB?

CLiMB is an online library of focused microlearnings that provide actionable training for frontline employees, on key concepts such as basic professionalism, communication, using time wisely, and providing exceptional customer service. Practice activities use real-world scenarios from healthcare-specific settings and focus on the entry-level job positions of the targeted learner. CLiMB also provides support tools for teachable coaching moments between managers and direct reports. Feel free to contact us HERE to learn more.

Sources

“Trends in Training and Development,” American Management Association
“Moving from Boss to Coach,” American Management Association, September 13, 2019
“Healthcare providers are teaming with chatbots to assist patients,” Modern Healthcare
“What Should We Expect For The Future of Corporate Training in 2020?” Edge Point Learning, Corey Bleich
“Digital Tools For the Future of Healthcare Providers,” Fingent: Shaping the Future, Tony Joseph, April 26, 2019

Increase Productivity and Retention of Entry-Level Employees

Businesses from many industries including retail, hospitality, and agriculture struggle with turnover and consistent productivity, most notably with frontline lower-paid associates. These industries understand the difficulties of keeping employee productivity at a high and turnover at a low. Actual costs to replace an entry-level worker in healthcare runs into thousands of dollars.

Can anything be done about it? Especially during times of full employment in many metro areas, what can hospitals do to slow down attrition of entry-level employees, while also increasing productivity?

Here are 6 actions to take to help avoid the turnover problems facing many industries today:

Training & Development

Low-wage employees who most need to increase job skills and build upward mobility are also the least likely to be offered formal training programs.

Training can help employees be more engaged, committed, and satisfied with their jobs and achieve bottom-line results for their employers. Providing training that is directly applicable to actual roles helps associates be more effective at work and achieve a better quality of life off the job.

There are numerous ways companies can support a culture of employee training and development: individual coaching, workshops, courses, seminars, shadowing or mentoring, or even just increasing employee responsibilities to show trust. Growing employee job skills will allow associates to improve their efficiency and productivity.

For more, read our related article, “4 Large Organizations That Are Hyper Focused On Entry-Level Employee Training.”

Measure ROI

What gets measured, gets managed. Be sure to track retention metrics and team productivity and track entry-level associates who move upward in your organization. If possible, report these metrics (and hopefully improvements) to senior leadership.

TriHealth, one of the largest healthcare providers in southern Ohio, produced one of the most thorough entry-level workforce ROI studies we have seen to date. This ROI plan measures employee training and development ROI. TriHealth tracked employee longevity, upward career movement trends, and recruitment savings over the course of 5-years. TriHealth saw a savings of almost a quarter million dollars when all metrics were considered. To read more about this study, click here: “Investing in the Future of the Healthcare Workforce: An Analysis of the Business Impact of Select Employee Development Programs at TriHealth.”

Help Employees Build a Personal Development Plan

In partnership with team managers, or possibly an internal mentor, encourage your low paid associates to plan for upward mobility. This includes showing them what opportunities are available in a large organization and how to navigate HR systems. Within this plan, have employees weave in development opportunities offered by the organization, or even outside the organization, with certification courses. This personal plan should improve skills for current roles, as well as help associates acquire new skills for future roles.

Get Higher-Quality Work by Improving Morale

At the end of the day, happy, engaged employees work harder and better. Those who dislike their jobs and feel disenfranchised may go through the motions, but burnout (then probably turnover) is inevitable. When open lines of communication and employee appreciation are baked into the employee experience, the result is higher quality work.

Mercy, headquartered in Chesterfield, Missouri takes entry-level employee morale very seriously. This organization even has an internal “Lowest Paid Co-Workers” committee which is led by the CEO. To open lines of communication with employees, Mercy shows each employee how their role contributes to organization success. Mercy also takes associate development, mentoring, and community partnerships very seriously, which also fosters morale.

Teach Managers/Supervisors How to Better Communicate

Most entry-level associates (or most all associates at any organization level) don’t leave organizations, they leave bad managers. Poor communication skills usually go hand-in-hand with bad managers. Teach your managers basic team communication techniques, like focusing on the future instead of rehashing past issues. This demonstrates a manager’s commitment to moving forward and helping find positive solutions. This doesn’t mean ignoring past team member failure is good either, but instead, teach a positive way to discuss it. For example, teach managers to start 1×1 or team performance discussions with what positive things are happening. Modeling positive, open communication sets a precedent for all team members from top down.  In early 2020 I hope we can get some articles going from ATM’s use of CLiMB.  This would be a perfect place to link to an article about improving manager coaching skills.

Workplace morale depends on employees respecting their leadership. If employees do respect their leaders, they will be more enthusiastic about their work. Supervisors need to act the way they expect their employees to act.

Increase Praise and Recognition

If an employee does something that merits praise and recognition, don’t let the opportunity to give praise pass by. Recognition can actually be an even better motivator than money. Be specific in praise given, and be sensitive to the individual. Some enjoy public praise while some prefer a private word. Get managers on board with organization efforts to give recognition.

 

BONUS: CLiMB® supports entry-level healthcare workforce development. The CLiMB online library of focused microlearnings provides actionable training customized to frontline healthcare employee settings. CLiMB focuses on key concepts such as basic professionalism, communication, using time wisely, and providing exceptional customer service. It allows associates to practice activities pulled from real world scenarios.   The CLiMB total support package also includes exercises to strengthen supervisor coaching skills  and a framework for employees to build personal development plans. To learn more about CLiMB, CLICK HERE and Catalyst Learning will follow up with you.

 

SOURCES:

“Improve the Efficiency of Your Employees: 10 Proven Tips for Small Businesses,” Hub Productivity and FreshBooks blog

“Increase Productivity and Retention of Entry-Level Employees,” Business Know How, April 22, 2018, Patricia Schaefer

“Top 10 Ways to Improve Employee Efficiency,” Your People Inc., Alexandra Hicks

“5 steps to creating career development plans that work,” Insperity Training & Performance

5 Tactics to Manage Entry-Level Associates Who Have Low Ambition

It’s a rewarding feeling for HR professionals and mid-level managers when they attract rock star entry-level employees.  It’s equally deflating when a new hire isn’t working out or is lacking ambition. Questions then begin to come up between the hiring manager and recruiting staff. Why isn’t this associate working out? What could we do better to motivate? There could be many reasons a frontline employee is showing low ambition. It could be communication issues, skills gaps that weren’t apparent at first, poor onboarding, or a culture clash. Here are some tactics to help manage an entry-level associate with low ambition or who is struggling.

Consider connecting the associate to a Coach/Mentor
A coach can help associates adapt to a new work environment and offer advice on how to grow and succeed. Coaching, which comes from someone trusted other than a direct manager, can be an opportunity for employees to share their concerns or issues without feeling like it will be used against them. A coach/mentor can help make introductions across an organization, show employees opportunities available, and help with a development plan. A coach/mentor may also help an associate see the “unwritten rules” of a hospital’s work environment and can help speed up the worker acclimation process.

Prioritize Areas for Improvement
Short-term, achievable improvement goals can help keep employees motivated. It can also help employees from feeling overwhelmed. Prioritizing with an employee also gives the employer the opportunity to course correct without having wasted too much time if improvements aren’t happening quickly enough.  Make sure your workers know what their top priorities are, what needs to be done, and any applicable deadlines. Vagueness can really hurt an associate’s motivation or direction.

Built Trust, Check-in, and Praise Accomplishments
Workers strive harder for managers and organizations they believe in. Teach managers to build trust with their team and show empathy for associates’ concerns. Have check-ins on a weekly or bi-weekly basis with employees who are struggling to revisit how things are going and revise performance plans as needed. Making time for this step in the short-term will save time and effort in the long-term. Check-ins can provide an opportunity to acknowledge worker accomplishments and make plans for the next improvement priority. It can be difficult for entry-level associates to understand how they contribute to the hospital’s success. Show them that their work is helping the organization be successful. Nothing is more motivating in the workplace than a sense of ownership.

Of course, supervisors need to strike a balance. Supervisors do not need to be a helicopter parent—employees at any level need to be able to stand on their own two feet—but need to be prepared to answer questions about why work needs to get done, the workplace culture, or the health system at large.

Manage how an Unmotivated Employee Affects the Group/Team
Within work teams, if a peer gets away with something multiple times, other associates begin to think they should also start getting away with a performance issue (tardiness for example). Explain to teams how this affects team cohesion as well as the work, and have supervisors address individual associate issues quickly. This will help keep an unmotivated coworker from affecting their entire team’s performance and dynamic.

Don’t assume an unmotivated associate is out to “take advantage” of coworkers. It could be a case of misunderstanding an original request, but make sure to address it. If an associate is bringing down the team, consider removing that person from the team or finding a new role to utilize their skills that is a better match.

Encourage Employees to Develop Themselves
Let employees know of any HR or performance building tools available in the organization. Don’t just assume associates will know about these tools. Instead, promote and use them proactively, and encourage managers to use them as a coaching tool.  For examples of coaching tips, see our related article, “Frontline Employees: Coaching For Success.”

An example of a self-development program is the CLiMB® online library of focused microlearnings. CLiMB provides actionable training for frontline employees. This training teaches key entry-level work concepts such as basic professionalism, communication, using time wisely, managing stress, and providing exceptional customer service.  CLiMB offers lessons in real-world healthcare-specific settings, using scenarios created based on input from customers and subject matter experts. Courses like Providing an Exceptional Patient Experience help show employees how to engage with customers/families. CLiMB provides basic skills training for employees that result in practical behavioral skill gains and allows for self-directed learning and the opportunity to explore solutions. CLiMB also prepares your managers/supervisors to coach by showing how supervisors can provide efficient one-on-one “teachable moments.”

For more information on CLiMB, click here and one of our team members will promptly get back to you.

Chances are, if a manager feels an entry-level employee is struggling or not meeting expectations, the employee likely also has concerns. But many entry-level employees are too timid to admit they need help. As an employer, supervisor, manager, or HR professional, use these tips to address performance concerns, and help turn that struggling entry-level employee into the rock star employee you hoped you were originally hiring.

SOURCES:
“Coach’s Corner: Keys to being an effective manager for entry-level workers” Star Tribune Business Magazine, Liz Reyer, January 21 2018
“10 ways employers can turn struggling new hires into rock star employees,” Recruiter magazine, Matt Krumrie, June 22 2017
“7 Ways to Get your Unmotivated Workers Off Their Butts,” Entrepreneur magazine, Carol Tice, February 24 2012
“How to Motivate and Manage Entry-Level Employees,” Washington Post, Kate Johanns, August 27 2018
“7 Dos and Don’ts for Dealing With an Unmotivated Employee,” Huffington Post, Diane Gottsman, July 8 2014

4 Large Organizations That Are Hyper Focused On Entry-Level Employee Training

In the years since the Great Recession, unemployment levels have fallen across the U.S. while economic growth in the country has rebounded. As a result, competition for entry-level talent is growing, and many employers are struggling with employee turnover.

As this article is written for U.S. health systems, Catalyst Learning believes that benchmarking a few organizations in other fields can help health systems think outside the box. The organizations below are creating business and social value by investing in their entry-level talent, and some of these tactics can help U.S. health systems to stay competitive and prepare for the future.

A recent Accenture study found that 80% of entry-level workers expect some role training in their new jobs. However, many will not receive this training. This omission leads new hires who were once passionate employees to feel disillusioned and leave organizations within two years.

Not preparing a workforce for excelling in a current role and for future roles generally benefits no one, so why is this happening?  It generally comes down to cost. Training can be costly, and the ROI on that training can be blurry. Instead, companies fill entry-level positions quickly and hope that new hires figure it out.   Similar to investing in on-boarding, entry-level training has proven to be a strategy for operational excellence and growth.

Here are large scale organizations in different industries/sectors that have figured this out and serve as benchmarks for others.

Wegmans Food Markets (Grocer)
Wegmans is a regional grocery chain in the U.S. with stores ranging from upstate New York to Virginia. It has invested in training employees for decades. In 2017, Wegmans’ own employees voted them onto Fortune’s “Best Places to Work” list for the 20th year in a row. In 2018, they were #2 on the list. One Wegmans leader explained success this way: “We sell groceries, but we’re in the people business.” Wegmans is winning the war for talent by investing in its frontline entry-level employees, particularly those who have faced barriers to economic opportunity. New hires usually travel to different Wegmans locations to learn different parts of the business and to see opportunity, and they usually have at least 40-hours of on-the-job training. After initial training, extended training in different departments can last up to 14 weeks. Wegmans calls its training “Knowledge Based Service,” and trainees learn from all-star employees in their local area. Wegmans acknowledges that the training tactic is expensive. It is paying for trainee’s mileage, hotel, a regular wage and per diem, but the idea is to eliminate mistakes that inexperienced employees usually make. Disorganization is also expensive.

 Bonobos (Retail)
Only founded in 2007, Bonobos has established itself as a leader in the retail industry for its innovative approach to launching vertically integrated e-commerce brands in the U.S. With 165 full-time employees, Bonobos offers its program “Managing for Success” which teaches management skills to first time leaders. Bonobos also offers its “Fit for Success” program which focuses on performance management training. For new entry-level associates, Bonobos offers “How to Manage Up Well” which trains frontline associates how to navigate relationships with senior employees. Last, Bonobos offers its “Know Your Customer” training to prepare new employees with customer relations experience. The retail company offers these perks to help equip workers with skills needed to manage themselves and their teams. It also believes these programs rally people together and helps associates gather respect for each other’s skills and importance to the organization.

 Marriott International (Hospitality)
A leading global hospitality company, Marriott has more than 200,000 employees at its managed properties, including 102,000 employees in the U.S. Marriott offers a variety of training to employees worldwide using multiple training delivery methods, including virtual training. The training focuses on developing skills and provides professional and career development training. Topic areas include work-life balance, leadership and management. Marriott offers this because it believes in well-being and growth of each employees says Arne Sorenson, President and CEO at Marriott International.

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts (State, Healthcare IT)
The Bay State earmarks hundreds of thousands of dollars to help spur new digital or hybrid competency-based training programs for entry-level healthcare employees. The state’s workforce development agency works to boost the skills of Massachusetts’ young adults through government investments and with community partnerships. According to Governor Charlie Baker, “healthcare, information technology and advanced manufacturing are among the most vital employment sectors in our state and is needed for Massachusetts’ future prosperity.”

Massachusetts isn’t just a national leader in healthcare and technology, it is a global leader in healthcare and technology. While clinical leaders at Boston Children’s, Massachusetts General, Tufts and Brigham & Women’s get the newspaper headlines, there are thousands of employees in entry and mid-level jobs, such as CNAs and health aides, who don’t have sufficient access to education and skill-building opportunities. The goal of this brand-new initiative (summer 2019) is to help upskill employees with digital training programs, which accomplishes the dual goal of boosting economic opportunity for workers while also addressing the state’s healthcare workforce shortages.

For some adults in Massachusetts, going back to a full-time classroom isn’t a realistic option, so these programs are built to help them. And with the rising demand for community-based care, health systems are facing growing challenges filling open positions. This type of program builds a career advancement ladder to develop the skills of staff, and the state’s investment helps hospitals to have the capacity to provide in-house IT training.

Training from the bottom-up reduces turnover rates, increases productivity, and attracts the right employees.


SOURCES:

“Massachusetts to fund pilots expanding digital training for entry-level healthcare workers,”  Healthcare IT News, July 16 2019, Mike Miliard

“New Wegmans employees travel for store training,” The Daily Progress, July 2017, Aaron Richardson

“Why Large Organizations Should Be Hyper-Focused On Entry-Level Employee Training,” eFrontLearning, 2018, Nikos Andriotis

“10 companies with awesome training and development programs,” Monster.com, Isabel Thottam

“Entry-Level Retention Makes a Billion Dollar Difference for Business and Society,” Rockefeller Foundation, March 27 2017, Kimberly Gilsdorf

“Why Companies Should Invest in the Retention of Entry-Level Employees,” Rockefeller Foundation, April 4 2017, Kimberly Gilsdorf

 

5 Entry-Level Healthcare Jobs That Can Lead to Career Advancement

During times of full employment, healthcare systems often find it harder to fill entry-level roles, and HR leaders spend too much time recruiting! To retain top employees, it’s important to think about those “next level,” hard-to-fill roles and how to prepare motivated entry-level staff to someday fill them.

While leaders can come from many different places in the organization, here are five examples of roles that have transferable skills, where workers could move up in the company if they’re given supplemental skill training. Recognizing potential and growing the skills of entry-level workers can help you show your employees there are career paths available. It also can help you begin to build a talent pipeline.

1) Administrative Assistant: Successful employees in this role need to be organized, have good interpersonal skills, and be skilled at managing information flow among executives, abilities that can help AA’s move into a department management position. (If AA’s can manage the VP, managing a team may come easy!) When talented personnel in these roles start looking for new challenges, don’t let them go to your competitor. Offer opportunities to improve skills needed to advance with internal programs designed to teach conflict management, adapting to change or stress management.

2) Patient Assistant: Patient assistants play a critical role in delivering care, and the job provides them with direct patient experience and familiarity with medical terminology. These skills are required in better paying jobs such as physical therapy assistant. Help employees who excel in this role prepare for the next step in their career with training to develop skills associated with patient engagement, service recovery, and handling unsafe situations.

3) Medical Secretary: Managing the various duties associated with this role requires attention to detail, strong organizational skills, and the ability to prioritize tasks. Employees who excel in this role are able to transition into department secretaries or managers. You can support their career growth with training that focuses on communicating more effectively, including how to better organize their thoughts, be concise, and improve listening skills.

4) Food Service Worker: Whether they prepare the food or work in customer-facing roles, good food service workers are adept at working as part of a team, managing supplies, and following health and safety rules for food storage and preparation. A solid understanding of food service responsibilities can help entry-level workers move on to manage employees in nutrition, food delivery or dietary departments. Provide star employees with training to help them get set up for career success and understand possible career paths that are available in food management in your organization.

5) Help Desk Support: Troubleshooting basic IT problems requires employees to have strong problem-solving skills, good customer services skills, and familiarity with your systems and IT setup. Employees with strong IT skills can be an asset in a hospital’s IT department, serving as analysts or project managers. Help them hone the skills such as developing good work habits, building strong relationships, and understanding organizational expectations. This can allow them to take on greater responsibilities in a new role.

Employees who excel in these, and other entry-level, roles can move up in your organization instead of taking their job experience to your competitors. With the skills they’ve learned on the job and employee development support, the foundation is built for professional growth. These employees can go on to higher-paying jobs such as patient services representatives, department secretaries, or patient care technicians. They also can advance to department supervisor or management roles in nutrition, environmental services, and other key departments.

What does a real-world success story look like?
In 2012, Wendy Fausett started working for UnityPoint Health as a frontline employee working in housekeeping. Although she wanted to advance her career at UnityPoint Health, she thought her criminal background and a lack of formal higher education would prevent her from moving up. However, by working with a Retention Specialist at UnityPoint, Wendy realized that possessing the right skills was the most important factor in advancement and that her background would not stop her from securing a promotion.

Through participation in UnityPoint’s School at Work program, Wendy started developing managerial, interview, and professional skills, which allowed her to successfully apply for and secure a promotion as a housekeeping supervisor. Wendy’s training led to both career advancement and a wage increase of more than $5.00 per hour.*

Don’t just offer a job, offer a career path
While you may already have programs such as tuition assistance to help employees advance, entry-level workers often need more support to move into other roles.  Basic skills training and career development programs can help entry-level employees build a strong foundation for success. When skills training is provided in conjunction with career development support, it creates momentum that helps fully prepare entry-level workers to advance.

Think more about employee engagement, so you can ideally focus less on recruitment
Workforce development helps your employees realize their full potential and allows you to promote people who already know, and share, your organization’s core values. Of course not all entry-level workers are thinking about career advancement but basic skills training can improve their current job performance, satisfaction, and morale.

Ultimately, the money invested in employee development can help curtail the high cost of replacing talented employees who move on to other jobs with more opportunities for growth. Emphasizing your commitment to helping employees grow and advance will also help you attract candidates who are looking for a career, and not just a job.

 

*Information provided by the National Fund for Workforce Solutions, and its CareerStat Frontline Healthcare Worker Program.

Mercy Health: Living the Mission through Education of Frontline Coworkers

Providing educational opportunities to frontline co-workers is deeply rooted in the mission of Mercy, headquartered in Chesterfield, Missouri, whether they work in rural areas or the ministry’s largest hospitals. Leaders of Mercy recognize that education allows co-workers to realize their abilities, advance financially, and improve their own sense of dignity. Sister Mary Roch Rocklage, RSM, health ministry liaison and a respected leader in the healthcare community, understands that education is inherent to improving the lives and capabilities of ministry co-workers.

“Education ties in to what we are about,” Sister Roch said. “It comes from a Latin word – educare – that means you draw out and lead forth additional knowledge from inside a person, and you teach them how to use that knowledge.”

The desire to include all co-workers when developing its Compensation for Lowest-Paid Co-workers initiatives prompted Mercy to expand Catalyst Learning’s School at Work (SAW) program from St. Louis and Springfield to across the organization. SAW helps frontline co-workers refresh essential skills, such as the basics of reading, writing, math and communication, and gain a better understanding of healthcare-specific subjects during their work hours. It also gives co-workers knowledge and tools to improve job performance and potential for upward mobility.

In addition to SAW, Mercy offers ECHO (Expanding Your Career and Healthcare Opportunities®), which uses a blended-learning model to enhance critical thinking and advanced communications skills. The program prepares students for a degree or certificate program while increasing engagement and motivation.

“SAW and ECHO are natural iterations of our core mission,” said Tanya Marion, regional vice president of human resources for Mercy. “We have co-workers who possess a great deal of talent. The programs allow us to help augment those positive qualities that are natural to them while extending their opportunities at work.”

The emphasis on skills and development programs for frontline co-workers is especially impressive given the range of communities served by Mercy. It is the sixth largest Catholic healthcare system in the U.S. and serves millions of people annually. Mercy includes 32 acute care hospitals, four heart hospitals, two children’s hospitals, three rehab hospitals and one orthopedic hospital, nearly 700 clinic and outpatient facilities, 40,000 co-workers and more than 2,100 Mercy Clinic physicians in Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma. Mercy also has outreach ministries in Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas. Whether they work in rural areas or the ministry’s largest hospitals, the mission of Mercy is to serve.

“When you think about all the communities where we serve, we range from small towns in rural areas to multi-faceted organizations in larger communities,” Marion said. “Smaller hospitals and communities may not have the opportunities for additional learning because of the geography in which they live. We want to support our co-workers in smaller communities as much as those facilities and cities with larger groups of people.”

“It’s the whole idea of oneness,” said Sister Claudia Ward, RSM, a specialist in Mercy’s Talent Development and Optimization division. “Mercy is one body with many parts. We certainly want to share the wealth of what’s piloted and successful in one area across the ministry.”

While Mercy leaders like Marion and Sister Claudia recognize that programs like SAW and ECHO require an investment by healthcare organizations, reduced turnover and improved succession planning mitigate the financial investments associated with the programs.

“In healthcare, we’re all trying to do more with less,” Marion said. “Sometimes that results in the idea that there’s not enough time or resources to invest in training and education. But it’s because of those constraints that it’s even more important to invest in these programs. We have an opportunity to make a small investment for a huge return. Lower turnover and higher engagement are investments that pay off.”

“Who touches and impacts the patient? It’s our frontline co-workers,” Sister Claudia said. “Who has one of the largest impacts on patient experience? Again, it’s the frontline co-workers. When we invest in these co-workers, we enhance the learning and productivity of the organization.”

Site coaches provide guidance and feedback for program participants. Jan Dieke, clinical education specialist in Mercy’s Talent Development and Optimization division, is a coach for Mercy’s SAW program who sees her role as both educator and “cheerleader.”

“Catalyst Learning gave me the tools to be an effective SAW and ECHO coach,” Dieke said. “A major aspect of the program is providing opportunities and giving encouragement to participants. I call myself a cheerleader because we are there to encourage even the smallest achievements. We see their potential and provide positive feedback and constructive criticism.”

To help share the success gained from educational programs like SAW, Mercy has used a virtual classroom format that allows management or human resource professionals from one facility to support training and development classes at other facilities within the system.

“Technology must work for the virtual classrooms to succeed and that takes getting the right coworkers throughout Mercy working together to coordinate the conference rooms, laptops, webcams, participant guides and other tools for each remotely participating location, in order to facilitate continuity and cohesiveness among all participants,” Dieke said.

As a result of Mercy’s emphasis on training and education for its frontline co-workers, the success and achievements of program participants have benefited those co-workers personally and professionally while also enhancing patient services across the ministry. Education and talent specialists like Dieke and Sister Claudia agree that co-workers gain new confidence in their positions, have a newfound and positive outlook, and become open to other job opportunities within the ministry. Sister Claudia cited a recent survey of SAW graduates and found that 86 percent reported an increase in confidence, which she said can only be a positive boost to patient services as well.

“SAW incorporates patient and customer service modules,” Sister Claudia said. “That allows us to talk about service – to talk about Mercy’s values and the expectations of our patients and co-workers.”

“It’s an extension of our overall mission at Mercy,” Marion added. “We take care of those in our care and those who help provide that care. We are a very large employer in many of the communities in which we serve, and this gives us an opportunity to give career paths for many of our fellow co-workers.”

Sister Roch said, “There’s a joy and pride you have in the women and men who go through the program. It’s a journey for them and opportunity for them to advance. It’s also an investment where you hope there’s a return for them personally, and if they stay with the ministry you hope they can grow along their journey.”

That growth has been seen in ministry co-workers like Rachel Blankenship, now a charge nurse with further ambitions to advance her career. Eight years ago, Blankenship began her career at Mercy in the Environmental Services Department. The SAW program gave her not only professional skills, but also the confidence to move forward with a new career. While most SAW students have a high school diploma, Rachel did not; after SAW, she went on to acquire her GED and started pre-requisites for nursing school. Blankenship was accepted into nursing school after she completed her pre-requisites and became an RN in 2011.

Debra Gouse is a graduate of the first SAW class at Mercy St. Louis in 2004. After completing the program, Debra completed college and went on to get her master’s degree in business administration.

Debra is the first to get a college degree in her family. Vergie Cooper, an environmental services tech, has graduated with a bachelor’s degree in business administration and is now planning to begin work on her master’s degree.

Alan Chapman, human resources manager at Mercy, cites Blankenship, Gouse and Cooper as several of the many success stories that have resulted from the SAW program.

“It’s the spark in the students – that’s where success starts,” Chapman said. “But you have to show them a path or make them aware of other opportunities. When they’re in class, they might be exposed to a job they weren’t aware of or we might set up a scenario for shadowing or learning more about a position. We want them to be self-directed and motivated but you have to help plant that seed and encourage it to grow.”

The growth of SAW graduates like Blankenship, Gouse and Cooper has helped Mercy HospitalSpringfield reduce turnover in traditionally high areas such as housekeeping, while also increasing the overall tenure of frontline co-workers. Marion said the program has increased levels of engagement and provided Mercy more opportunities to promote from within.

“We have the experience of working with these participants so they are a known quantity,” she said. “These are people who are doing great things, and we are moving them into other positions.”

Sister Roch summed the impact of Mercy’s longtime partnership with Catalyst Learning by how the educational programs have supported the ministry’s mission for 10 years.

“Catalyst Learning is investing in women and men who serve because of their great respect for them and their dignity,” she said. “We started our partnership with Catalyst Learning when there was a deep concern for how Mercy could invest money into bettering the lives of our co-workers. We only accomplish our mission by investing in our people.”

Additional successes achieved by Mercy’s SAW students:
• Ernest Blackburn: Advanced from environmental services tech 1 to supervisor of environmental services.
• Sakiba Delic: Transitioned from financial counselor to human resources recruiter.
• Silvia Miranda: Advanced from interpreter to lead interpreter.

Frontline Employees: Coaching For Success

Hit the ball, make the shot, row in unison. Understanding the basics of any team sport is easy, but if knowing the requirements of the game was all it took to succeed, everyone could play in the major leagues. To be a top athlete, it takes time, talent and dedication, but even those elements may not be enough.

Regardless of the sport, the one thing all teams have in common is a coach. The coach’s job is to bring out the best in every player and provide the guidance they need to not only play well but to function as a team. It’s a critical role in the sports world, but it’s equally important in business, especially with frontline jobs where pay is low and turnover is high.

As healthcare organizations struggle to retain hourly workers, the key to success isn’t found in a thicker training manual or additional policies and procedures; it’s in helping frontline employees develop all of the skills needed to succeed. While employees may understand the tasks they need to perform in their daily job, they may struggle with more basic concepts such as time management or communication.

A good manager helps frontline employees learn these and other soft skills because it makes the workers more effective in their jobs and more satisfied with the work they do. The result is employees who are more engaged and far less likely to be looking for a new job.

The American Management Association emphasized the importance of coaching in a recent article, noting that it’s “the most effective way for managers to lead” and is now a “core skill required of every successful manager in the 21st century.” It goes on to say that if managers don’t acquire these skills “it is unlikely that they will be able to achieve sustainable long-term positive results for themselves or their organizations.”

One of the barriers, according to a Harvard Business Review (HBR) article, is that “managers tend to think they’re coaching when they’re actually just telling their employees what to do.” The authors analyzed managers’ coaching skills through self-assessments and expert evaluations before and after leadership skills training.

Before leadership training, managers tended to overestimate their coaching abilities. They saw coaching as listing and directing the steps employees needed to take to accomplish tasks; but effective coaching isn’t about directing, it’s about helping employees learn.

In fact, many aspects of successful coaching are based on principles of adult learning. A Rutgers University article on adult learners noted that, in general, “Adults cannot simply act as passive receptacles of others’ expertise as children often do.”

Instead, the Rutgers’ article points out that “adult students prefer a self-directed approach that allows for discovery on their own.” It also notes that adults typically respond better to learning a concept if they understand why they need to learn it in the first place. (For more information on Adult Learning Theory, read our related article, Health Industry Employee Training – 6 Key Principles)

To assess managers’ coaching skills, the authors of the HBR article identified nine core leadership coaching skills that follow these adult learning principles:

1. assisting with goal setting
2. letting the coachee arrive at their own solution
3. listening
4. questioning
5. giving feedback
6. showing empathy
7. recognizing and pointing out strengths
8. providing structure
9. encouraging a solution-focused approach

These skills allow managers to help employees understand “the why” and they allow for self-discovery. Even when it targets one area such as time management, effective coaching for frontline employees helps associates build foundational skills that will be beneficial in other areas.

What all this means to healthcare organizations is that employee training needs to focus on more than the hard skills required for the job at hand. Helping employees improve decision-making, problem solving, conflict resolution and other soft skills is just as important, if not more important than task oriented training. It doesn’t just help frontline workers become better in their current role; it helps them become better employees in any position.

Read more about adult learning principles.

“Most Managers Don’t Know How to Coach People. But They Can Learn.” Harvard Business Review. August 14, 2018. Julia Milner, Trenton Milner
https://hbr.org/2018/08/most-managers-dont-know-how-to-coach-people-but-they-can-learn
“Five Ways to Transform Managers Into Coaches.” American Management Association. Mike Noble
https://www.amanet.org/training/articles/five-ways-to-transform-managers-into-coaches.aspx
“The Principles of Adult Learning Theory.” Rutgers University.
https://online.rutgers.edu/blog/principles-of-adult-learning-theory/