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Hospitals Deliver the Goods for Working Mothers

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media, September 29, 2008

We hear a lot about what hospitals should do to recruit and retain key employees, perhaps by looking at success stories outside the healthcare industry. Maybe we've got it backwards. Maybe those other industries should take their cues from healthcare.

Case in point: 14 hospitals made the 100 Best Companies 2008, an annual survey published in the current issue of Working Mother magazine. By far, hospitals present the largest delegation to the list.

"It's a very strong group," says Carol Evans, Working Mother CEO and president. "They all have a common thread, a culture that says that working mothers are extremely important to them. It's not just a program here or there or some funding, it is an organization saying ‘we welcome working mothers into our employee base' and that is a cultural shift when you value that talent."

It is a cultural shift born of necessity.

"First of all, hospitals employ huge numbers of women so they are very laser-focused on the issues of women to begin with," Evans says. "Point No. 2 is that hospitals are in a terrible war for talent. It's not just for nurses. It's for top technical, administrative, and financial talent. It's an interesting time."

None of this is breaking news to human resources folks, who've been dealing with these issues for years. But it does indicate the outside world's growing understanding of the severe personnel shortages and "interesting time" affecting the healthcare industry. In addition, it shows that the hospital industry—perhaps more than any other industry—understands the pressures on working women and is on the leading edge of finding solutions that allow employees to better balance family and work, to the benefit of everybody. Hospitals on the Working Mother list share common benefits packages that center around competitive pay, flexible hours, and, of course, childcare options.

H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute in Tampa. FL, is on the Top 100 list. Yvette Tremonti, vice president for human resources at the 162-bed private, nonprofit hospital, says more than 80% of Moffitt's 3,600 employees are women. "Our benefits really emphasize not just working women but parents in general," Tremonti says.

"But when you look at those demographics, tailoring benefits to that particular group, you are going to have a high number of those women who are parents."

For Moffitt, it's not just about finding daycare for a toddler. The hospital's "Backup Care" program, for example, provides not only access to care for dependent children, but also provides care options for "sandwich generation" employees tending to infirmed parents, even if those parents live in other cities or states.

Moffitt, like many hospitals on the Working Mother list, has a number of nursing scholarship programs and tuition reimbursement programs as well.

Obviously, these benefits promote recruiting and retention. That's what they're designed to do. But, they also improve lives. Perhaps no other industry offers entry level employees—women and men—better opportunities to improve their lives, and enhance their training and income, while also filling vital roles for the enterprise. For that, hospitals should be justifiably proud.


John Commins is the human resources and community and rural hospitals editor with HealthLeaders Media. He can be reached at jcommins@healthleadersmedia.com.
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