Human communication

Two years into pandemic, hospitals earn high marks as America’s Top Employers

MAdeline Bell joined Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia as a night nurse in 1983. Nearly 40 years later, she’s leading the 167-year-old institution and its more than 15,200 employees through the coronavirus pandemic. “The most important thing I’ve learned is the critical importance of the physical presence of leadership,” says President and CEO Bell.

When the recent wave of omicron variants created a staff shortage, Bell volunteered in the hospital’s supply chain unit, packing and delivering supplies to hospital patients alongside employees to that she could talk to them about what they had in mind. The main concern? Burnout.

It’s a problem many frontline healthcare workers are grappling with two years into the global pandemic, as the surge and lull in new cases seem to be on an endless loop. Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, also known as CHOP, has implemented a variety of programs to help employees navigate uncertainty, including providing more flexibility in schedules and split shifts, bringing back retired nurses and providing subsidized child care through the YMCA. He also created a public health department with a hotline and town halls to help answer questions from employees about testing, vaccinations and issues such as returning to work and school for their families. .

These and other initiatives have helped CHOP secure the number one spot on Forbes‘ List of America’s Top Large Employers 2022. Forbes has partnered with market research firm Statista to identify the companies most valued by employees in our annual rankings.

“Every day, I know that something I do, and every person who works here does, is going to make a difference in the lives of children and their families,” Bell says. “And it’s a higher calling and I think we’re all very united and very connected.”

Despite two years of challenges, including staff shortages, supply chain issues and reductions in many outpatient and elective procedures, employees at several major hospitals have expressed pride and determination in their work and the way their employers were managing the pandemic. Joining CHOP in the top 10 are Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (#4), Mayo Clinic (#7), University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center (#9) and MD Anderson Cancer Center (#10 ).

“It has certainly been an evolving process,” says Leslie Ballantyne, vice president of human resources, legal and regulatory affairs at Memorial Sloan Kettering, when reflecting on the pandemic. “At all times, we looked at the multiple dimensions of our employees’ lives: what they need for themselves, what they need for their families, and what they need to do their job. »

She recognizes a major difference between the first and second year: the Covid-19 vaccines. All of the more than 21,100 employees of the 138-year-old hospital must be vaccinated. While this has helped reduce the risk of infection at work, many employees with children, especially those too young to be vaccinated, continue to face uncertainty over school and daycare closures. . Sloan Kettering already had a contract with employer-sponsored child care provider Bright Horizons to run a center for employees in Roosevelt Island hospital accommodations, as well as a backup program for employees whose usual suppliers could be sick. In February 2021, he opened another center a few blocks from the main hospital.

The hospital operates an incident command system that continuously monitors the Covid situation in New York and adjusts employee resources accordingly. For example, Sloan Kettering covered travel and parking costs when transport options were limited, and arranged hotel stays for frontline workers who didn’t want to risk exposing their families to Covid. “We just needed to be nimble and flexible and responsive and have people really listening to what was going on so we could adapt accordingly,” says Ballantyne.

In both establishments, constant communication with employees was essential. Ballantyne says her approach is, “As often as possible and as honestly and transparently as possible and in as many modes as possible.”

CHOP’s Bell says hers stems from her days as a night shift nurse. “What would I have thought when I was a nurse receiving this information?” she says. “I try to have empathy and change my way of approaching the way I interact with people and especially the way I communicate with people.”

For the full list of America’s Top Large Employers, click here. For the full list of America’s Best Midsize Employers, click here.