Attracting and retaining top talent a top priority

By Michelle Niermann / Health Care Column

In light of historically low unemployment rates, almost every organization is searching for ways to effectively recruit and retain top talent.  Health care organizations are no exception.

With an incredible array of talent required – from support personnel to nurses, therapists and other clinical team members, including advanced practitioners and physicians – we are always focused on developing a committed team to provide the care we’d like our loved ones to receive.

The variety of tactics available to an organization to support recruitment, retention and engagement efforts is endless. But, in our case, we have found it helpful to adopt evidence-based frameworks to guide us in achieving our workforce goals.

Two of the frameworks we have utilized are applicable across every type of business. The Great Place to Work Institute taught us that a great workplace is one in which people trust who they work for, have pride in what they do and enjoy the people they work with. So, as an organization, we have focused on bolstering leadership communication, helping people understand how their work makes a difference and finding ways to have fun.

Jim Collins, author of “Good to Great,” once described the Baldrige Performance Excellence Program as providing “a powerful set of mechanisms for disciplined people engaged in disciplined thought and taking disciplined action to create great organizations that produce exceptional results.” The Baldrige framework spurred us to re-design our new team member orientation, performance assessment tools and recognition programs to ensure they were supporting the culture we wanted to build and the results we wanted to achieve.

While both these frameworks have helped us strengthen our organization, it is the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) Magnet Recognition Program that has made the greatest difference, not only in building our committed team but also in improving the quality of care for our patients.

The Magnet program was formed in 1990 based on findings from a pivotal nursing practice study that identified characteristics – later known as “forces of magnetism” – that created an environment conducive to attracting and retaining well-qualified nurses who promoted quality care.

The extraordinarily comprehensive Magnet framework has at its center the achievement of measurable outcomes, and emphasizes transformational leadership, solid structures and processes to support clinical practice, advancement of the professional practice of nursing, and a focus on new knowledge, innovation and improvement. Much more simply put, it is about valuing nurses and, by extension, all clinical and support team members, and creating an environment where they can do their best work, develop professionally and contribute to improved outcomes.

ANCC research demonstrates that Magnet hospitals consistently outperform non-Magnet organizations with better patient outcomes and higher patient satisfaction rates. Magnet-recognized hospitals also report increased nurse retention and job satisfaction.

On Dec. 19, we were thrilled to learn that UnityPoint Health – St. Luke’s Hospital had succeeded in achieving Magnet recognition for a third time, having first achieved the designation in 2009 and being re-designated for the first time in 2014. Less than 10 percent of hospitals in the United States have earned this recognition, and only 207 have achieved designation three times. And while the recognition makes us proud, we use Magnet for the same reason we’ve chosen to use any framework — for the outcomes it helps us achieve for our patients and our team members.

Michelle Niermann is president and CEO of UnityPoint Health – Cedar Rapids.