Recipe for a Healthcare Talent Strategy: Advocate Aurora Health Care

healthcare talent strategy

No one knows talent competition like healthcare. The industry has shortages in almost every specialty, and it's increasingly clear that a solid strategy will have to be based on what's known about the marketplace and what it's demanding.

It's why data was the unquestionable star of the recent LEAP HR Healthcare Summit. Guessing at benefits doesn't provide a lot of return. For healthcare organizations worried about skills (which these days is all of them), Advocate Aurora Health Care's presentation, fittingly called "Transforming Career Development to Drive Engagement," was a masterclass in a data-driven strategy that identified specific talent needs and then designed a development program to reach them.

How they did it should be instructive for anyone trying to avoid gaps:

Illustrate the "Why"

The starting point is to find the trouble spots. Advocate Aurora Health Care's research showed the lure of competitors' tuition offerings was a large source of voluntary turnover. Just as telling was data showing that education assistance improvements offered the highest gain in perceived value, creating a clear path to next steps.

Start with a specific audience

Broadly offered benefits sacrifice the opportunity to synch up with talent needs. By targeting a specific population - in this case healthcare's critical and increasingly scarce nurse population - Advocate Aurora Health Care knew they'd be able to effectively raise their profile by delivering on what these important recruits value most in a job.

Design an active program

Passive education programs leave it up to the employee to figure out what to do with the benefit. Advocate Aurora Health Care's active program laid out the steps, pointing employees to a specific desired end goal (RN to BSN) and then carefully drew the map to help people get there - benefitting both the employee and the organization.

Identify and take on the chief obstacles

The most carefully designed goals can be undone by employees' inability to reach them. With that in mind, Advocate Aurora Health Care addressed money before it could even become an obstacle for employees, offering higher caps for those pursuing desired degrees, and carefully selecting and partnering with schools that offered the best value.

Make it easy to access

Potential participants will require information. But answering employee questions alone could hang up an entire organizational department. Outsourcing tuition management made sure that accessibility wasn't a roadblock; it also gave Advocate Aurora Health Care the ability to immediately report on and track progress

Template for a Successful Healthcare Talent Strategy

Advocate Aurora Health Care's program has been an unqualified success, delivering a 12-percent increase in employees pursuing degrees, and funneling nurses through at greater speed. The icing on the cake: all that came with a savings of as much as $3,400 per student.

Just as important, the organization's work isn't done. The benefit of a successful program for one cohort is how it can be leveraged for others. In fact, Advocate Aurora Health Care already has medical assistants and certified nursing assistants in its sights. It's all part of building benefits that do more than look good.

As Advocate Aurora Health Care presenter Nikki Slowinski put it, "You can't just do nice things for nice people, you have to build the business case."
Young employee speaking with a tuition program manager

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Written by: Doug Stefano

About the Author

Doug Stefano at Bright Horizons

As Vice President, Healthcare, Doug is responsible for leading growth efforts in the healthcare vertical in collaboration with team members across all Bright Horizons’ services. Doug joined Bright Horizons after more than 24 years with Standard Register/Taylor Communications, where he held a variety of roles in sales, business development, sales management and most recently as Vice President of Sales in their healthcare business unit. Doug is a graduate of Rutgers University with a Bachelor of Science in Management/Marketing.