On-Demand Webinar - It Takes a Village: HR Executive Strategies for a Post-COVID World

team meeting in office

The future after COVID has been on employers’ minds for months. And that future is almost here. With offices reopening and the economy picking up steam, there’s an unmistakable sense of urgency for employers to position themselves for what comes next.

Hear HR leaders discuss the tools and strategies for the moment, specifically:

  • What employees want and expect post pandemic – and what changes look here to stay.
  • Concrete ways to identify and stay in front of the head-spinning evolution of skills
  • How to establish “a village” of support that can elevate your culture and foster the connected and resilient workforce needed to thrive in the now of work


Mike: Hello, and thank you for joining us for today's webcast, "It Takes a Village: HR Executive Strategies for a Post COVID World." This event is part of the SHRM webcast series, you can learn about upcoming and on-demand programs from our E-newsletters, and the webcast homepage @shrm.org/webcast. SHRM thanks today's sponsor, Bright Horizons for making its program available to the HR community.

Now, about today's program. With offices reopening and the economy picking up steam, there's an unmistakable sense of urgency for employers to position themselves for what comes next. That's the focus of today's webcast, what employees want and expect post-pandemic and what changes are probably here to stay. You'll also hear how you can stay in front of the head-spinning evolution of skills. To lead our program, we're pleased to welcome Maribeth Bearfield from Bright Horizons and Penny Ferrell from Wellstar Health Systems. Here is some background on our speakers.

Maribeth Bearfield is Bright Horizons’ Chief Human Resources Officer. She is responsible for representing Bright Horizons’ leadership in HR practices and the services it delivers. She is a thought leader with more than two decades of HR leadership experience in financial services, high tech, telecommunications, and the professional services sector.

Penny Ferrell serves as Executive Director of Employee Wellness & Work-Life Programs at Wellstar Health System, one of the largest and most integrated health care systems in the state of Georgia. Ms. Ferrell oversees all corporate initiatives and team member wellness, fitness, and work-life programs. These include on-site daycare, Back-Up Care, tuition reimbursement, on-site concierge, and employee assistance program, and Wellstar's reward and recognition program. With introductions complete, I'm pleased now to turn over the webcast microphone to our first speaker, Maribeth Bearfield.

Maribeth: Thank you so much. And it is truly my pleasure to be here with you all this afternoon, and also to be sharing the virtual stage, if you will, with Penny Ferrell. And Penny and Wellstar are great clients of Bright Horizons and take advantage of many of our services. So excited to share this presentation and talk about some of the things we do and how those actually come into play. When I think about the past year and a half, I just keep shaking my head as a CHRO. It has truly been quite a year. I know that I have done things in HR or began to think about things differently as an HR professional, more so than ever before. And so the title, "It Takes A Village," it's an old African proverb that really talked about it takes a village to raise a child, because it takes many people coming together to really be able to help and build.

And Penny and I put this presentation together. The intent is really to talk about how we as HR professionals really need to come together and create that village of all kinds of supports for our employees today. So really excited to be here with you all. I'll turn this over to Penny for a few minutes. And then we really look forward to beginning the presentation.

Penny: Well, thank you, Maribeth. It is a great privilege to be here today and have this conversation with you. I talk about one of my favorite subjects of which is supporting our team members. And I had to laugh when you said that about it takes a village because I never appreciated that saying as much as I did when I had children. And then I didn't appreciate it even as much as when I had children and began to work with children. And so I think this is such a great topic today. And I hope that some people get some things out of it. And then we can help tell the great things that we're doing that we have made some impact with our team members, and we know that is making a difference in their ability to balance work and life.

Maribeth: Well, let's take it away, Penny, we hope you all enjoy this, and as Mike said we will save some time, at the end for any questions you may have. So think about it, what a year and a half we've had in many industries, the most in-demand occupations today did not exist 10 or even 5 years ago. I think about roles like data scientist, or an Uber driver. These are roles that again a few years ago we didn't even know about. When I think about the fact that 65% of children entering school today, may be in jobs that you and I don't even know about. They don't even exist yet. And I think, Penny, you can share a little bit about the healthcare industry and what's happening there.

Penny: There's so many different occupations coming up when I think about self-driving cars. It makes me laugh because there's those traditional occupations that you talk to your kids about, you wanna be a doctor, a lawyer, an engineer, a businessman or a businesswoman. What do you wanna do? And now we don't even really know what to ask them anymore, because there's so many crazy careers coming out. But one of the things that is very consistent is the healthcare industry continues to have some of the fastest-growing jobs, and some of the most in-demand jobs out there. And so I know that there was an article in the "Wall Street Journal" this past April that really talked about 6 of the top 10 occupations expected to grow at the fastest rate of the next decade, are still in healthcare. So, it just shows you that the healthcare field is always one that you can go in and be guaranteed a job. We have lots of room for growth here. And it just keeps growing.

Maribeth: Oh, that's great. And you know, Penny, companies today are really changing. It's more about intangible than it is tangible. I think about when I started in HR, and it's too many years that I will put a number to, but when I started in HR, it was all about the physical building, the assets the company had, the physical presence. Today, those things really don't matter as much. It's all about the intangible, what's your brand? What's your reputation? What's your culture? What are people saying about your company? Companies that have no assets, I talked to somebody the other day, their company has never had a workplace. They are completely and totally virtual. And so you just think about then, as HR professionals, how that has changed our role, especially as the keepers of the village.

And so when I think about HR, then and now, we are being asked to do things so differently. Ten years ago, I really believe as I saw the employer and employee relationship change, we began to see things like benefits was no longer medical, dental, and life insurance. Benefits became how are you going to help my well-being? How are you going to help my family? How are you going to help me come to work? And today, especially after COVID, that has been even more magnified. Because now employees are saying, "I can't come to work if I don't have the supports I need." And our people are our greatest assets.

And so we wanna break this presentation into really three places, and we're going to start with, It Takes a Village to Build a Family. And then we're going to talk about It Takes a Village to Build a Career. And It Takes a Village to Preserve Wellbeing. And those three things being so critical, as we begin to think about getting employees back into the workplace.

And so when we think about it takes a village to support a family, we're near a breaking point, you guys. Just the statistics in and of themselves are startling. We've seen a true shift in women coming back into the workplace. We've seen a true shift in people wanting to come back into the workplace or having the support systems they need to come back into the workplace. And that truly is changing the way we as HR professionals need to do our job because we need to support these employees of ours. We need to help them support their families, whether it's childcare, whether it's school-age care, whether it's elder care, all those aspects so that they can work. And whether that work is being taken place in an office or at home, they still need those supports. So Penny is gonna share with us a little bit more about how Wellstar helps its working parents.

Penny: Yes, well, this is one area that's near and dear to my heart as a working mom trying to juggle. Luckily, I have a 14-year-old as my youngest I have to in college. So I was lucky this year that mine was able to take care of himself and with virtual learning, but not everybody had that luxury. And 82% of our workforce at Wellstar are women. And so many times the parenting and child-rearing and childcare decisions are a little bit more on the mom sometimes, not always. But we have 82% of our workforce as women, the average age is 46. So we're kind of right in the middle of raising children, having aging parents, and how do you help them with that juggling act?

And so we really try hard to do that with our team members. And our partnership with Bright Horizons has been incredible. We have three different verticals that we have with you guys, on-site childcare centers that you manage. Two of our largest locations and the one central to our downtown area. We also have the Back-Up Care hours that we're gonna talk a little bit more about, which I love, that you can use for your school-aged children, young children. For someone to come to your home and say that they wake up sick and they can't go to school or school is out for a week, and you just don't have that Back-Up Care hours support that. Or if you use them for your aging parents, if they have surgery and they need that extra hand at home.

But we also have the additional family supports with you guys, that really helps with some of those life challenges that you just don't know how to navigate as a parent. So we're very proud of that relationship that we have with you guys. You talked a little bit about COVID. And childcare is challenging no matter what on the best of days. But then factor in COVID, where most of the schools closed for a period of time, childcare centers closed. What were you to do if you had to go to work? We don't have the luxury of our folks being able to work remotely. Our folks have to take care of patients, and they have to be at a hospital or at a medical practice to take care of those patients.

So instead of having to decide like, do I take care of my kids? Do I miss work? Do I go to work and not take care of my kids? We did a lot of things for them this year to really help out in that area. So we never closed our childcare centers, which was incredible. We did that with your partnership and your workforce coming in and taking care of our team members' children. We also had virtual learning sites. So we made some of our childcare centers have spots with virtual learning access. So the school-aged children can come to our childcare centers and do that virtual learning.

We also partnered with the YMCA, and opened virtual learning sites on campuses, and so the kids could come there if they needed to and learn so the parents could still come to work. And probably the most incredible thing, I think, that we did for our team members this year was we offered something called Crisis Care through Bright Horizons. And what this was, is really just one of those, random things that happen when there's no availability of childcare. So we very rarely have this happen, but we had it happen this year.

And so when you can't find someone either to watch your child in the home with Back-Up Care hours or just anywhere, the schools are closed, childcare centers. We reimbursed our team members $100 a day to enlist someone to watch your child, whether it be your parent, your neighbor, someone from church. Your neighbor's high school kid that was also out of school, someone kind of in your village, if you will, but we reimbursed you $100 to do that. And through that program, we had over 23,000 distinct care sessions that our team members activated. And so it was just a true help for our team members to say you don't have to choose between work and taking care of your child.

Maribeth: It's amazing, it's amazing, Penny, and truly a company that did everything. Wellstar, you truly did all that you could do to help your working parents. During the time that we were all trying to figure out what and how to do that kind of support for our employees, you guys really went above and beyond. And look, it created great stress. We had to think about family support back-to-school support, and beyond.

And I know even if at Bright Horizons we do a modern family index, where we look at working parents and what happens. And the stress level of 2020 versus 2019 was just amazing. And the mental load that parents were carrying. And what was kind of very interesting, I thought was the mental load increased on they believed, their spouses had more stress or the mental load on their children. That their children were really losing a year of their childhood. And not just a year of their childhood, but possibly a year of education.

Penny: Absolutely.

Maribeth: Yes. So they were looking at other ways to be able to do that. But it was really difficult, a really difficult time. And I know you guys really stepped into that.

Penny: Yes, and I mean, I think that this slide illustrates a lot of that how parents are extremely concerned about their kids reaching milestones for missing that in-person learning. I said, I have a 14-year-old so he missed a lot of in-person instruction and that's just so critical, especially when you're talking about elementary-aged school children. And so one of the things that I love is that Bright Horizons has been able to pivot and adapt to some of these changing needs. And so one of the things that we're offering to our team members starting next month, with the partnership with Bright Horizons and our Back-Up Care hours is we're kind of shifting some of that access.

And so from Back-Up Care, you can use that for younger kids for a caregiver to come into your home. Well, now what our team members can do with those Back-Up Care for people like me with a 14-year-old, who I don't need someone to come to my home, so I didn't really use those hours. Now, I can convert those Back-Up Care hours to virtual tutoring hours for my 14-year-old. And so now he can get some catch-up on some of the areas that he may have gotten behind in. And so what a great thing to give more of our team members access to the things that they need for their family right now.

Maribeth: Absolutely. As a CHRO, Bright Horizon we have 34,000 employees globally, we have to do the same. We had to support our teachers so that they could be in the centers we had to support their families. We began as a company to look at enhanced family solutions, like, what are the other things we can do? School-aged care that was new for us to. We enhanced our ability to do summer camps through acquiring a company. So, all those ways that help employees be able to work and be more productive in the workplace.

So, let's switch now to It Takes a Village to Grow a Career. Wow. So, once again, employees, so you've got all this stuff going on for working parents, and any employee with family support or concerns. Then we have employees worried about careers. So careers are changing, as we talked about in the first slide, we are seeing that new jobs are being created, and new things are happening.

And so one in five employees are citing that lack of development opportunities is a reason for quitting. And we've always known that people will leave a job because of their manager. They don't have a strong relationship with their manager, with their colleagues, or they don't see a career path. So to think that one in five, 20% are concerned about this. And that only 16% of new hires possess the skills they need.

And so as we create these new jobs, and we have this hiring crisis, and we're not even going to go into that bag of doughnuts. But we've got this hiring crisis, people are going to need to be upskilled. And also people are craving the ability to do more and to be more. And I know that this is another great area where Wellstar stepped up for its employees. And I'd love for you to talk to the group about that.

Penny: Yes, well, I think you hit it right on the head, people have to feel that they have a career path, and they have a connection and to what they wanna do. And so sometimes people start a job, and it's just a job, and it's not their career yet, and how do you help them get there? So we have so many different opportunities, I wanna spotlight one that I think is really interesting and just such a great asset to the company. So this is our new CNA program. It's a certified nursing assistant program.

And so again, in order to recognize the needs of our team members, this is a program that they can do while they're working. And so say that you are one of our folks in nutrition and food services or environmental services. And you see what the nurses are doing and what the certified nursing assistants are doing every day with that patient care. And you really want to do that, that's like something that you think "I could have a career in that, but how do I get there?"

So this program was created so that while you're working in your current job at Wellstar, Wellstar will pay 100% of the fees and tuition for you to go through this program that we've partnered with some local institutions to do. And it's a six to eight-week program that you can get through while you're working. And then you come out with your CNA certification.

And I have a great story, I oversee our 15 fitness centers. And one of our biggest ones, Health Place is a community fitness center. And one of our aquatic assistants really wants to be a nurse. And so she asked if she could go through the CNA program. And she did, she went through the program with our support and our blessing because we wanted her to be able to do what she wanted to do. She graduated from the program in December. She's already working as a CNA on a telemetry unit and wants to go back to school with the help of our tuition reimbursement and get her BSN to be a nurse. So it's just a great way to start a career path from anywhere you want to at Wellstar.

Maribeth: Absolutely and anything is possible. Especially when you have the support of your employer, that's just amazing. That really is. And so also, we talk about your partnerships investing in the future of healthcare. Do you want to talk a little bit about that, Penny?

Penny: Yes. So I mean, I think it's really important to fill that pipeline. I mean, everybody has probably heard, there's a nursing shortage in this country. And so how do you even start that pipeline. And so we have a long history of investing in the next generation of, really, compassionate caregivers, like our nurses. And one of our educational partnerships, as early as high school has helped fill these critical positions. We've collaborated with Kennesaw State University, which is Georgia's second-largest university for more than 40 years. And really to build that strong pipeline of nursing talent.

We solidified that partnership, if you will, in 2003, when we added the Wellstar name to the College of Health and Human Services, School of Nursing, and now it's the second-largest nursing program in North Georgia, which is wonderful.

We have invested heavily in this program, so that we can ensure that we have the skilled nurses that we need. And right now there's 500 students enrolled. And the goal is to increase that number 20% each year. So the ultimate goal is to have 1,000 future nurses over a five-year period.

The greatest thing is once they start that nursing degree, we have a year-long nursing residency program for our new nurse grads that really focuses on their professional development, and wellness skills, once they get here. Because the first year in a job like that is really tough. So we wanna support them once they get here. They are a team member of ours, we wanna make them have the skills they need and set them up for success.

Maribeth: That's great. That's amazing. And I think you have one particular story to tell.

Penny: Yes, so I love this story, it's just another example of how you can progress in your career if A, you have the initiative, but you have the support of your employer as well. So Danielle is one of the wonderful people that I get to work with every day on my team. I met her years ago, she's been with Wellstar, 11 years. She started out as a young, in her 20s as a surgical tech at one of our largest hospitals, Kennestone Hospital, not really knowing what she wanted to do yet. She thought this is a good place for me to start, it's a job here.

And what she found out is that she really had an interest in exercise science, finding out how the body worked. And so she went back to school at our tuition reimbursement help and got her undergraduate degree in exercise science. She started working with that degree at Wellstar and realized that she wanted to go even further. She did an internship at one of our very actuated medical clinics. And went back and got her master's degree in exercise science with a certification as an exercise physiologist. And then became our supervisor of our employee wellness program.

And about two years ago, we had a director of our fitness centers, that role came open. And it was a role that she felt like, was a stretch role for her. But she really said, "This is my dream job, I wanna do it, I know I can do it. I just know that I don't know if you think I can do it." And we were like "Apply, apply for it," and she did and she got the role. And now she says it's the job she has always dreamed of.

And I think it just goes to show that if you have a company that supports you with things like tuition reimbursement, with things like our Wellstar Leadership Academy, that she went through a six-month program to kind of build up future leaders. And then you have support and mentors along the way, you can really do anything you want. And so, I'm just so proud of her for her career trajectory at Wellstar where she is right now.

Maribeth: That's a great story. That's a great story about Danielle. At Bright Horizons, we, about a year and a half, two years ago started a program called The Horizons Program. And it's a program where teachers can get their bachelor's degree, totally free. We pay your books, we pay your admissions, we pay for your application, no out of cost to you. And you can get your bachelor's degree for early childcare education.

And one afternoon I was in one of our centers here in the Boston area. And I met one of the teachers and she was a young woman, she had graduated from high school and we got talking and she said, "You remember..." She found out I was in human resources and she said, "You don't remember but I just need to tell you a story." She said, "I never thought I would be a college student." And she said, "And I joined the Horizons Program and I'm now a college student." And she said, "And I never thought I would have my own laptop and my own ability to really be successful if I ever did go to college." And she said, "Through the employee purchase program, I spend $10 a paycheck, and I have my own laptop." And she said, "Those two things have changed the course of my life." And you just go wow.

And that's what we want to continue to be about, helping people do the things that they want to do and creating those pathways. We did this through our EDassist program, creating those pathways for companies to be able to do that, and to be able to do that easily for people. So those are great, great stories. And look, that's all about retention. That's all about you give to employees, they give back. There's a great story there as well. And we've seen from our horizons program, a true change in turnover. And so it's been very successful.

So I wanna keep us moving. And our last area to talk about is, It Takes a Village to Preserve Well-being. And when I think about our employees today, when I think about all of us today, and all that we are going through, exhaustion is widespread. We know that people are worried, they're concerned, we're stressed, stressed about employees and families. And I'm right there too, this has been really difficult to work at home. And I can say, we're not working from home, we're living at work, we're living there.

It's just, our whole world is now in this one place. And so I think people are so stressed. And as we talked a little bit earlier about that mental load, that concern for themselves for their partners, for their children, for other people, for their neighbors. And so, we've really taken a strong stance about what we need to do in regards to well-being. And I know, Penny, you at Wellstar have done the same.

Penny: Yes, I tell you, this is the part that really touches my heart the most because you're right. I mean, our folks, especially, COVID hit the healthcare industry particularly hard. At least when most people are in their offices at work, or you're working at home, you're not with a mask on all day or PPE. That didn't happen with our folks. I mean, we were living in it 24/7. And so we really were trying to find ways to support them. And one of the things that we did this past April, so just a few months ago, we really started looking at how do we give control to the team member for what they need most?

So we implemented something called MyCare Rewards. And really, what this was about was recognizing that our team members had this stress, had this burnout, and how can we make things a little bit better for them just in the moment?

So we offered them the option of taking two additional PTO days to use as they want. And this is for part-time, full-time, or PRN employees all 24,000. Or they could have $500, as a one-time grant. And the reason we really wanted people to take the days, but some people, we found that the big stressor was financial. And they may need the money to buy an appliance or pay off a bill.

And so that was more important for creating some ways to alleviate their stress than taking the PTO days. And so this was obviously something that our team members loved. And we're very appreciative of it because it gave them a little bit of control on what is gonna help me the most in the moment. And so that was something that we just did like I said in early April, and was just a big win, I think, for our team members.

Maribeth: Yes, that's amazing Penny and we did something similar for our employees, where we offered them if they would like to have paid out a week of vacation. And so we don't accrue, we stop accruing at a certain level and so we would pay them out and thousands of employees took advantage of that. But to your point exactly, money was a concern, for some people and so this just kind of helped to relieve a little bit of that burden. And so, again, it's all those things we're doing for individuals' well beings. And I know you have a lot of other programs that I would love for you to talk about.

Penny: Yes, so as part of MyCare Rewards, we did a few extra things. So one of the things that we recognized is that we were seeing a lot of burnout, depression, anxiety, even coming into work every day. I mean, people were seeing a little bit more death than normal. I mean you see that, unfortunately, in hospitals but with COVID it presented a whole another slew of complexities. Patients couldn't have their family come and visit, our team members became their family.

And so one thing that we have done is that starting next month. We are having three on-site EAP counselors that will be on-site every day for the next year to support our team members in the moment. We also have a new EAP program coming with spring health that's going to be incredible. It's a very proactive, personalized approach to mental health. We also gave all of our team members access to Headspace, which is a resource for health that it's incredible.

And so the other thing that we did, which I'm so proud of, is that we announced that we're building out 17 wellness rooms across our system. And so what that means is that every hospital health part that we have, we will build out these wellness rooms that people can go to, in the moment. If they're having just a stressful day, a stressful moment, they had some event on the floor that they have. They can go away to these rooms that will have massage chairs, aromatherapy, mats to pull out, and you can do yoga or meditate whatever you want in the room.

And research shows that if you can just get away from that stressful environment and have something like this for five minutes, it really can help your stress levels. And we really are just doing this to show that we know our team members have worked so hard. And they are facing these enormous complexities with health care right now and COVID that we wanna support them every way we can.

One of the other things that we're doing is we are launching Sharecare, which is an employee wellness platform. So we're very proud of that. And then we also have our ongoing support with Bright Horizons and all the incredible programs we have there, along with an onsite concierge. And the really cool thing about this is we have a concierge that will run your errands, they will go get your lunch, they will plan your trip for you. They just planned a trip for me, I went out to the Grand Canyon, and they planned the whole thing for me.

So like a true concierge service. And the time this saves our team members is incredible because they really just can't leave and go somewhere during the day and run an errand. And so we really want to bring those resources to them to help them again, balance that work life. So that if you need an errand run, let us do it for you. And there's no charge to our employees for that service.

Maribeth: It's amazing. It really is amazing, all the things that you all are doing to make their lives easier. To help and support their well-being and to make them more productive, it really is wonderful. And I could use that wellness room right now as a matter of fact.

Penny: Yes. You can come down [crosstalk 00:32:50].

Maribeth: Great idea. And it's [crosstalk 00:32:51]. Exactly, exactly.

Penny: And so, this slide really illustrates, besides just some of the resources we have. We wanted to take a look at really their overall mental and well-being as it relates to how they were having to do their jobs. And so our organization has really made this a key priority. And so we just established last month, with the help of Dr. Ryan Breshears, who's our chief behavioral officer a wellbeing cabinet. Our CEO was in our first meeting the entire time talking about what a priority this is for her, Candice Saunders. Because again, she started out as a bedside nurse, and she is now our CEO, she understands what our team members go through. And so it just shows how it's going to the top of our organization.

One thing that we did back, I wanna say back in May of last year, when COVID really hit, and things were starting to close and things got really crazy at work, we developed with our behavioral health line, our People Care Tool Kit. And this was a toolkit that really looked at how do we support your mind, your body, your relationship, your resources that we can provide to help with that balance. And it was just this really comprehensive guide on all of the resources we have, resources that were available in the community, everything that a team member could take advantage of.

The other thing that we did is we came out back a few months ago with a toolkit for leaders. And what we saw, and this is one of the things that we recognized very early on, was that leaders sometimes were having the hardest time. Because not only are they having to take care of themselves and their families, they have to take care of their work-family too and the team members that they manage. And so it was like how do you know when something is causing your team member distress? Because you may think it but you're not really sure and how do you help them? So with our behavioral health team, we created this guide that really looked at the things that cause your team members distress.

And it really like went to the basics of like Maslow's hierarchy, like you have to meet those basic psychological and safety needs, or physiological needs of like bathroom breaks. Are you drinking enough water during the day? Are you making sure that you're taking a lunch? Just all the things in the moment and those might may sound very like, "Oh, you should always do that." But when you're working on a unit in a hospital that's very, very busy sometimes you forget. And so it was really empowering those leaders to understand what they could do to make that impact for their team members.

And we also one of the things I'm most proud of is we had a 24/7 hour COVID hotline that team members could call from the get-go. So when COVID first hit, they could call if they needed to get tested, if they thought they have symptoms, what do I do? I've tested positive, what do I do? And so it was this manned hotline that they could call any time and get in-the-moment resources and help. And we had an option on that helpline if you felt like you were in distress, or you were having, mental health issues that you needed help with right away, one of our behavioral health providers would talk to you at that moment. So it really was just trying to wrap our arms around our team members and give them every resource we could to help them through this time.

Maribeth: Yes, that's wonderful. That is wonderful. And so I think you have a little bit, one more story to share with us, which is great.

Penny: I know all these resources are incredible. And I think that companies are having to reinvent what they do every day to be relevant and be successful in attracting and retaining talent. But I will say that even with all of that, it really comes down to creating a culture of trust and engagement that supports your team members. And I say that because I love this slide.

So in the first half of our fiscal year, we rehired over 700 team members that worked with Wellstar previously, and they left for whatever reason, but they came back. And when we asked them why they came back, it all came down to our culture. And they just missed it, they missed the family feeling, they said that when they went somewhere else, it just didn't feel right and they missed Wellstar. And they missed the culture that they felt like it was a family that we were supportive of them. And help them with all these things that we're talking about whether it was childcare issues, or helping them with their career development, or just supporting them from a resiliency standpoint. So it's just a great way to show that making sure you offer all those things, but backing it up with your culture, it really will help you retain those employees.

Maribeth: Yes, that's wonderful. Great stories. And I know, so, the key takeaways. And when I think back on the past year and a half as well as what we've just talked about, it really is you mentioned, Maslow's. It really is what are the basic needs? What do employees need today? And how can we best help them?

And I think it's much different today than it was, again, 10 years ago, because the needs have changed, and employees really need our support. And so I think, as HR leaders we need to be those stewards. We need to be those individuals who are creating those support villages, and those support communities. And being very empathetic about what employees are going through in order to be able to be productive. And to do the things we hope they'll be able to do to support our businesses.

I also think and it's always been a part of Bright Horizons culture is about allowing employees to bring their whole selves to work. So we are no longer afraid of employees saying, "I have mental health concerns, or I need help with my elderly parent. Or I'm just really struggling because I have three children, and I can't get my work done between the hours of."

And I think we have created today an environment where employees can comment, and share that. And today, they're expecting the employer to help them with that. And so, I think that's where we as HR professionals really have to lean in, to what our strengths are, because we're there. I keep saying, "I'm the people person," we're the human resource, we're there to help humans. We're the resource for all humans in our companies. So it's amazing, Penny, the things that Wellstar has leaned in to do.

Penny: Yes, I think that you're so right. I think we have to as HR folks, we have to continually think differently and adapt to those changing needs and what we're hearing from our team members. And like you said, I mean, Wellstar, our strength is that we have a behavioral health line, we have an employee wellness team. We leaned into that and we took advantage of those resources that are our strength.

And so I would encourage any company, whatever your strength is, whether it's technology, and you can create something that helps processes. And anything you can do to help your team members that's what you have to continually keep doing and reinventing the wheel, if you will, for what the needs are, and how to meet those needs of the team members.

Maribeth: Yes, and I agree so much, Penny, and also how can we partner with each other? So if that's not our strength, maybe it's your strength. And we can lean on you and you can lean on us, and we can help each other. Like, the example you gave on the Crisis Care. That's a service Bright Horizons has provided for a number of years. Never was it utilized, like, it has been in the past year and a half. All of a sudden, it was a crisis, people needed support. And it was really created kind of for those one-off situations, not for thousands and thousands of employees but we learned.

And so, how do we learn from each other? When you need to get people into the workplace for those essential jobs, especially in healthcare, in education. You got to do it, you got to figure out ways to help your employees. And so paying your employees $100 a day to be able to pay for their caretaker, that's just amazing, truly going above and beyond.

Well, I just have to say, and first of all, to the audience, so this is Penny, and I kind of had 30 minutes to figure out how this all ties together. But you may disagree. I think it ties when companies are committed to doing the right thing for their employees the story is so easy to tell. And Wellstar has just done an absolutely amazing job of that. And Penny you leading that have done an amazing job. So it's so much fun to hear that story and learn from it.

And so right now, you guys, we would love to open this up for any questions that you have. I've learned more over the past year and a half from other HR professionals than ever before in my career. Because I think we were doing things for the first time, and so and I've always said HR people are great copy and pasters. So if you've got questions, we would love to hear them. And we would love to take maybe the next 10 or so minutes to answer those.

Mike: All right great, we will turn to audience questions in just a moment. SHRM thanks Bright Horizons for sponsoring this program and the SHRM series of free webcasts for the HR community. Bright Horizons is a leading partner of...sorry, Bright Horizons is a leading provider of workforce education and care solutions. More than 1,300 employers rely on Bright Horizon programs to differentiate their brand, strengthen their culture, and retain their best people. Services include childcare, Back-Up Care, college advising, education assistance, student loan assistance, and more. See how these solutions can elevate your people at brighthorizons.com/at-work.

All right, let's turn to some of those questions that are coming in. We'll start here, audience members asked. A lot of these, by the way, are geared toward Ms. Ferrell and the program at Wellstar. We'll start here for her. Wellstar's employee programs are impressive. How did you get buy-in from the executive team to make these kinds of investments?

Penny: We're very fortunate that our executive team really is looking at how to support our team members the best way possible. I mentioned our CEO was a former nurse, she recognizes some of the challenges that come with being a healthcare professional. And I think that, it's listening to our employees, and then the executive team seeing that, hey, this is really important to not only our team members being productive, but being resilient in their jobs.

And so I think it's just looking at that return on investment and value on investment many times. And when we can show that and shows us the value that the program is bringing, our executives have just been wonderful in supporting these types of resources.

Mike: That's great. Another viewer asked, how do you choose what you offer to team members? Do you do surveys? And also how do you determine program success? Are you measuring participation?

Penny: Yes, so a little bit of everything. So we try to do as much as we can listening to our team members. We do an annual trust survey, it gives us just incredible information. We just finished one Monday was our last day for the stress survey. And, we really take to heart a lot of the things our team members are saying.

For a lot of the programs, there are some ROI that we can look at. So for instance, with our concierge, we can show how many hours we save by them running errands for our team members, while they're at work.

When we look at our Back-Up Care hours with Bright Horizons, we can show the amount of hours that are saved by a team member coming to work by using the Back-Up Care service. And that we didn't have to either, call in a temp service or, some other person to come in for them. And it really is showing all that payoff through measures like that, so ROI'ing a lot.

And then a lot of it's the value of the investment on many things like with our wellness programs. When we see that, we have a custom question on our survey about, do you think that we have special and unique benefits here at Wellstar? And when people answer that question and then make some narrative around that about the programs they love. We really take that to heart and make sure that we continue with these programs. And just look at them every year and make sure that we are offering the best thing that we can. So we look at vendor selection and vendor programs out there to see what's the best offering.

Mike: Great. Again, for Ms. Ferrell, an audience member asked, what did your company consider in terms of how to fund these types of programs, rewards, and services?

Penny: So I think it really comes down to it was looked at as an investment in our people. Again, a lot of these things like Crisis Care, it was our team members having to decide whether they're gonna come in or stay at home with their five-year-old who's doing virtual learning or their six-year-old. And there was just no decision there. I mean, our executives were like, "We have to support our team members to come to work. And if this is what we have to do, we need to do that."

And so I mean, there's obviously more that goes into it. But I mean, a high level, it's an investment in our people every day by doing these types of programs and showing that we know what it takes to support them. And get them to work and to do their job and an environment that's going to be productive and set them up for success.

Mike: Did wealth care...I'm sorry, did Wellstar have outside help with conducting an analysis of all the various options available to create the innovative benefits and wellness program? Or was all that work done in-house?

Penny: Oh, gosh, that's a good question. So I am the luckiest person, I always say, I have the best job in the world because I have the greatest team in the world. So we have an incredible work-life manager that oversees a lot of these work-life benefits. We have an incredible wellness manager that has a team that looks at our wellness options.

And then we did have some help from...we do partner with an outside consultant on some of the items. But a lot of it is just looking at it we're all moms, we all look at things that we would need. We take it to people that we know, at the sites and say, "what do you think about this?" But so it's a little bit of a combination and hybrid approach. A lot of it internal but some external validation of the programs.

Mike: Another question for Ms. Ferrell. Do you have any numbers as to how many people who started your CMA program actually completed it?

Penny: We've had two cohorts now. So I'm not sure of the actual numbers that went through it. But I do know that it's been a very popular program because of the fact A, that you Wellstar was funding it for the employee, but also they could do it while they were working. So I will find out the numbers on that. But yes, I know that it's been something that we're very proud of because again, we've got nursing shortages and we've also got CNA, certified nursing assistant shortages across this country, there's just such a demand for them. And we wanted to make a program that they would be able to do and not interrupt their life so much. And that we would also have that built-in job that they could go to when they completed it like, Savannah did on our team.

Mike: Yes. And another audience member wants to know from the turf, who you see as competitors for Wellstar talent?

Penny: I like to think that we are the best. There's obviously, there's that competition for talent. So any healthcare system I think is going to be a challenger. Here's the thing with a lot of our roles. Again, we don't have a lot of flexibility in having remote workers for things like nursing and CNAs. But we do a lot with flexible scheduling. So that folks can do their own scheduling and make it work for their life as much as they can.

So where there's not an opportunity to work remotely, if that's what somebody wants, we try to make it where they can have a lot of flexibility and how they build their schedule. And that's been very popular as you can imagine with our staff to be able to kind of control their schedule.

But I think any other healthcare system is competition, I think there's also other occupations that nurses can do that are not in a hospital. So we're constantly trying to make sure that we provide those types of benefits and resources that compete with all of that so that we continue to attract and retain that top talent.

Mike: That's great. Some logistical questions here again, for Ms. Ferrell. How did you maintain honesty when reimbursing for childcare like paying an employee when a grandparent would have babysat anyway? Did they have to complete a form or provide documentation?

Penny: Yes, so they did have to complete a form. And it wasn't, I don't know that it was like a receipt or anything. But they did have to complete documentation on the Bright Horizons website through that their enrollment and registration in that program. Honestly, I think that there's a lot of trust that goes into this.

And we do trust our employees, I know that there's always going to be that opportunity for someone to take advantage of it. But for the most part, we had very little of that if there was ever, I mean, I can think of two instances that we thought there was something a little crazy, but out of 23,000 transactions, that's pretty good. I mean, I think people were just, they were trying to survive in that time, and do whatever they could to support their families. And we just wanted to be there to help them with that.

Maribeth: Yes, and I think I would just add to that. I think that's what we found across the board for the companies that do offer crisis care assistance, is that most people did the right thing. And I think we've all learned in HR that there are always, unfortunately, I shouldn't say always, but there are often those few who will look as to how they can take advantage of just about anything. And so I've always been of the mindset, I can't worry about that, I need to worry about those who really need this kind of support and care at this time.

Penny: Absolutely.

Mike: I put together a couple of related questions. One audience member asked if you can share the plans for the wellness rooms. I've considered this for our lactations room in a clinic. Another audience member asked what are the logistics to keep wellness rooms clean?

Penny: Oh, big question. So luckily, we have some experience with this, we already have a space like this down at one of our hospitals in Atlanta, we call it our Integrative Health Center. And it has been open for several years. And so we had a great model to model these wellness rooms after. And so before a team member can use the rooms, they have to do an online, almost like an education piece, and verification that they understand how to clean it, how to take care of the equipment, how to use the equipment, all of these things that we're trying to do.

We have badge access to the room so that we can see who's used them. If something gets broken, we can see the last person. And then we have a wellness team, that is Wellstar folks. And they are assigned at every one of our hospitals and health parks. And they will be in those centers every day helping to clean and make sure that we maintain those safety standards around COVID and the cleanliness standards.

Mike: That's great. I think we have time for one more question here, an audience member asked, many employees experienced the drop in productivity during the pandemic. Where do you draw the line between understanding and supportive and requiring that the business and job needs are met?

Penny: Gosh, I don't know, Maribeth, if you wanna take that one or I'll start? I mean, I think that for our team members, there's very little downtime when you work at a health care system.And so we almost have the opposite problem. We have to make sure that our team members are taking breaks and going and taking their lunch.

And really what we have envisioned with these wellness rooms is empowering the leaders to make sure that they're going around and making sure their team members are taking that self-care time. Because they do it so little, they're on 12-hour shifts usually. And again, it's so busy your day, you look down at the clock and eight hours have gone by.

And so our goal is to make sure that our team members are taking those needed breaks. Because we don't typically have that problem with worrying about if they're doing enough of the work. But again, ours is a unique challenge with folks that are not sitting at a desk all day or at home. And so we are just constantly trying to find ways to support our team members to do that self-care that they need to be resilient.

Mike: Exactly. All right, thank you, with that question and answer, we're gonna begin to bring today's webcast to a close. Before we sign off, SHRM wants to thank Maribeth Bearfield from Bright Horizons and Penny Ferrell from Wellstar Health System for the time and insights they provided today. And we wanna thank you in the audience for being online with us and for choosing SHRM for the HR webcast. That concludes this program.