Value-added employee programs can help recruitment efforts

May 1, 2006

Hiring and retaining good employees are priorities for nearly everycompany in every industry. After all, employees are the heart andsoul of an organization. Nowhere is this truer than in healthcare,where clinical staff provide a personal, caring touch to patientsand their families when they need it most.

Hiring and retaining good employees are priorities for nearly every company in every industry. After all, employees are the heart and soul of an organization. Nowhere is this truer than in healthcare, where clinical staff provide a personal, caring touch to patients and their families when they need it most.

Not surprisingly, this workforce shortage has changed how hospitals approach their recruitment efforts. To lure new employees, some organizations are offering increased salaries, huge sign-on bonuses and other creative incentives.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the top reason why people leave their jobs has nothing to do with pay or promotions-they leave because they "don't feel appreciated." Thus, savvy employers are developing retention campaigns and partnering with vendors to offer programs that invest in their employees' happiness and satisfaction and help them achieve a work/life balance.

WORK/LIFE BALANCE

Work/life balance initiatives include any benefits, policies or programs that help employees find ways to manage the demands of the workplace and life outside of work. Especially in healthcare, where employees work alternative hours in an intense and often emotionally draining patient-care setting, work/life programs such as concierge services, wellness programs and on-site childcare can help bring balance and perspective to their lives.

CONCIERGE SERVICES

Concierge service programs are a growing sector of work/life balance services. Mostly offered through outside vendors (although they can be in-house), concierge programs serve as personal assistants for employees. Just as in hotels, concierges run errands and arrange services such as travel, entertainment tickets, parties and dry cleaning drop-off and pickup.

Concierge programs bring convenient, reliable services to employees, who in most cases, pay only the retail cost of the service requested. Many times as a result of vendor specials or volume discounts, these services will be provided at a discounted rate.

Workers who take advantage of concierge services offered by employers will enjoy having help with necessary but time-consuming tasks, and by not worrying about those tasks while at work, employees can stay focused on their jobs and their patients. While still a relatively new concept for hospitals, expect concierge services to become more common.

WELLNESS PROGRAMS

Another popular benefit with a work/life emphasis is an employee wellness program. While these programs take many forms, they generally include free, confidential health screenings and personalized health-risk assessments. Such assessments can tell employees if, based on lifestyle habits and family history, they are a likely candidate for cancer, heart disease, diabetes or other significant healthcare issues. Employees are then encouraged to share this information with their physician to make a personal healthcare plan. Wellness programs generally also offer health education and disease management options.

Those participating in these programs repeatedly recognize significant savings in employee health costs, absenteeism, healthcare premiums, workers' compensation and other healthcare-related expenditures. With healthcare premiums continuing to rise, employers can help keep their employees happy and healthy while keeping insurance costs in check