August 8, 2023 Best Practices for Establishing a Roadmap to Employee Engagement and Retention

In today’s healthcare landscape, where high vacancy rates in specific roles and employee burnout are common occurrences, creating a work culture that enhances employee engagement and retention is a challenging task. In their Leader Connect Series, Laudio partnered with UNC Health to talk about “Best Practices for Establishing a Roadmap to Employee Engagement and Retention.” During this webinar, healthcare leaders from UNC Health discussed the successful workforce strategy they implemented to improve their organizational culture and mitigate employee turnover. They also shared insights on how they achieved internal alignment, established their execution strategy, and then implemented the plan throughout the organization. Those who attended the live webinar received HRCI credit.

The first of the three speakers from UNC Health was Tanya Content, System Executive Director of HR Operations and Teammate Experience. Tanya oversees strategy and planning, employee engagement and retention, as well as learning and development. Joining Tanya was Kathleen O’Neill, Communications Manager whose duties include shaping organizational culture, increasing employee engagement, and building an inclusive workplace. The third speaker was Ingrid Jones, Director of Culture, Engagement and Retention. Ingrid leads teams responsible for strengthening organizational culture, teammate engagement as well as organizational strategy and programs. 

Shaping a culture of increased employee engagement and retention

Tanya kicked off the discussion by explaining how in order to tackle the challenges of high vacancy rates and employee burnout, UNC Health embarked on a journey to create a comprehensive workforce strategy to shape a culture of increased employee engagement and retention. They collaborated with consulting firm, Deloitte to develop a people strategy framework and design an integrated roadmap. Since gaining internal alignment was the first step, it was fortunate that UNC Health already had a board and an executive leadership team that is committed to aligning organizational objectives with a long-term strategic roadmap to improve the workforce experience. 

A strong partnership between senior leadership, HR, and internal communications, as well as a collaboration among their executive stakeholders helped to facilitate participation in fact-finding discussions. Over a dedicated six-week period, Tanya’s team gathered stakeholder feedback and conducted extensive listening exercises including focus groups with participants from various levels of the organization. The entire process began in early 2022 and by May 2022, the people strategy framework was ready to be presented to the organization.

Introducing a six pillar people strategy framework  

The results was a six-pillar people strategy framework named, “UNC Health For Me,” a workforce strategy that illustrates a comprehensive commitment to UNC Health employees from recruitment to retirement. The initiative’s six pillars focus on all the ways UNC Health welcomes, develops, values, cares for, engages, and include their employees/teammates throughout their employment journey.  The development of this framework brought clarity and organization to UNC Health’s efforts to improve employee engagement and retention. It also provided a roadmap and context for their work, enabling stronger communication and awareness of existing talent. 

The framework highlighted areas for improvement, allowing UNC Health to continuously evolve its programs and initiatives. However, transforming a strategy from words on paper to reality is often challenging, and UNC Health recognized the framework needed to resonate and be relevant to their employees. Therefore, UNC Health’s next steps were to set up an execution strategy and then put it into action. 

Strategizing an execution plan to revamp all communication channels 

Kathleen then talked about how her team created the strategy to make the pillars come to life. First, they thoroughly assessed all their communication channels across the entire health system to see how they could create initiatives with content that aligned with each of the six pillars. Their objective was to ensure that the messages conveyed through UNC Health For Me resonated with current teammates while also effectively attracting potential employees. 

One of the initiatives included creating recognition weeks where each pillar was highlighted with activities focused on the pillar’s messaging. For example, during Develop Me Week, UNC Health offered tips, challenges, and information on career mobility and development to employees. Another initiative was revamping a workforce engagement survey to incorporate the teammate experience, aligning with the Engage Me pillar. In addition, their weekly internal newsletter addressed specific topics related to the Include Me and Value Me pillars. 

Kathleen’s team also conducted a roadshow, visiting different departments within the organization to engage with team members, gather feedback, and observe how they were integrating the pillars into their work. Furthermore, they developed recruiting materials to introduce UNC Health For Me to potential employees to create familiarity with the framework before they joined the organization.

Branded templates and Laudio technology facilitates internal engagement

The UNC Health intranet site showcased the pillars with information about benefits and activities aligned with each pillar. Resources such as branded templates representing each pillar were available on the intranet so employees could access icons, PowerPoint decks, and social media backgrounds for their communication needs.

Tanya added that these templates and the ones available in Laudio were very helpful for internal engagement efforts. Laudio’s platform empowers leaders to effectively connect with their teams by automating tasks, reminders, and tracking important interactions like one-on-ones, recognition, and rounding. Laudio allowed UNC Health leaders to easily facilitate employee engagement or effectively initiate a process. When leaders logged into Laudio, they were greeted with pop-ups offering ready-made templates to encourage their direct reports and teammates to take surveys. These templates provided a communication starting point, alleviating the challenge of crafting personalized messages and saving leaders’ valuable time.

Reinforcing the pillars leads to notable achievement 

In addition to overhauling their communication, Kathleen’s team developed a workforce strategy implementation roadmap. Regular meetings were held to assess the alignment between the pillars and their work, as well as gauge employee response. To make sure progress was made, a governance team met regularly to review all the initiatives and recommend necessary adjustments. 

Kathleen and her team are consistently reinforcing the pillars and their corresponding activities and initiatives within the health system. As a result, they noticed various departments increasingly adopting and utilizing UNC Health For Me in their communications. As more individuals and departments embraced the people strategy framework, it became more prominently reflected in all their messaging. One notable achievement was the creation of the first HR annual report that highlighted all the pillar initiatives and activities conducted throughout the year. This success fostered further internal acceptance and engagement of the framework throughout the organization including from leadership.

Executing the framework with an employee retention campaign

Ingrid talked about how her team implemented the pillar framework with a focus on two key areas. The first was enhancing the employee experience since the framework is built on a commitment to employees throughout their UNC Health employment journey. One of their initiatives was the “Retention Starts With Me” campaign, which focused on the crucial issue of employee retention, particularly on the relationship between an employee and their leader. 

The campaign adopted a three-pronged approach with the first prong emphasizing leadership development. It offered courses, workshops, and speakers to provide valuable insights into effective strategies and tactics for building strong relationships to promote employee retention. Videos featuring UNC Health’s leaders sharing personal insights were also utilized so that leaders could learn from the expertise of their colleagues.

The next aspect of the campaign involved sharing employee engagement and retention tools like Laudio. Ingrid described how Laudio’s features seamlessly integrated with UNC Health For Me pillars, enabling leader-team connections with pillars such as Welcome Me (connecting with new teammates), and Value Me (providing recognition for achievements and personal growth). In addition to using technology like Laudio, UNC Health facilitated online communities for leaders to connect, share articles, announce programs, participate in discussion circles, and engage in idea exchanges. These avenues promoted connections among leaders, fostered mutual learning, and facilitated professional development.

The final component of the employee retention campaign was encouraging leaders to apply the strategies they learned. In the campaign, a variety of different strategies were offered but leaders were urged to select the ones that resonated with their teams. Leaders were also provided access to UNC Health-generated metrics so they could monitor the impact of their efforts and develop additional strategies based on their own experience.

Empowering leaders to leverage technology for employee engagement

The second key area that Ingrid’s team focused on was supporting their leaders through technology and data-driven insights. Ingrid emphasized that leveraging data is crucial to measuring and tracking the results of their efforts. Each leader used UNC Health dashboard with HR metrics to assess retention statistics, exit interview data, and analyze various factors. These tools enabled informed decision-making and outcome identification. Ingrid’s team will continue tracking leadership participation in educational programs and encourage regular monitoring of retention dashboards. In addition to measuring results, Ingrid and her team use listening strategies to gather feedback from both employees and leaders. This valuable input allows them to provide data and information that can be utilized in other employee retention initiatives. 

UNC Health consistently reinforces the application of the pillars by empowering leaders to leverage technology and create an environment where it can be used. For example, Laudio is a tool they use to support leaders in holding and tracking professional development conversations. The feedback regarding Laudio’s technology has been overwhelmingly positive. Initially implemented with the nursing teams, Laudio is also now used by clinical and administrative leaders who have praised how Laudio has facilitated relationship-building and helped to improve employee experience.

The future of UNC Health For Me

When it comes to future developments with its people strategy framework, Tanya said that UNC Health will continue to integrate its workforce strategy into all its daily operations across the organization. They also will continue to gather feedback from teammates and leaders to stay informed of their needs and expand their suite of manager dashboards to provide leaders with the necessary information to support employee engagement. Other upcoming focus areas include designing and measuring talent development and career mobility efforts so they can track employment opportunities for employees within the organization. Lastly, UNC Health plans to always explore ways to leverage technology to further enhance the employee experience

Click here to see how UNC Health uses Laudio to operationalize its people strategy.

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