Professionals from two leading healthcare and life sciences organizations joined i4cp’s December 3rd Action Call for the Total Rewards community to talk about ways the pandemic has affected their organizations and workforces.
Jessica Harris is Compensation Director at Banner Health. The Phoenix, AZ based non-profit healthcare system includes 29 hospitals and other facilities serving patients across eight states. Banner’s workforce numbers about 52,000 people, making it one of the region’s – and nation’s – largest employers.
Senior Director of Global Benefits Angela Sim works for California-based biopharmaceutical firm Gilead Sciences. The company’s drug remdesivir has gained high visibility as a clinical treatment for COVID-19. With a presence in 37 countries, Gilead and its 12,000 employees are dedicated to creating a healthier world for all.
Among Ideas Shared Today:
- Positive responses to challenging times
- Describing her firm’s experience with the pandemic as “intense, demanding, and completely motivating,” Sim says that Gilead employees have stepped up and supported each other, their families, and the business while working to develop treatments to help patients worldwide.
- Gilead has significantly upped its listening strategies to understand employees’ concerns and needs. Says Sim, “We commit to listening, understanding, taking action, measuring progress, and adjusting course.”
- Pulse surveys of employees began in March and continued in April, June and August. A larger employee survey was fielded in late September. The pulse surveys covered varied topics, finding that struggles included burnout, financial needs, parenting and caregiving duties, lack of access to physical fitness facilities, and more.
- The company increased its emphasis on holistic well-being and safe work environments, and developed new ways to connect with employees, provide them with tips and resources, and offer benefits and strategies to help them meet the needs identified through the surveys.
- An existing policy on disaster recovery leave was adapted to provide paid time off for those dealing with pandemic-related issues and situations.
- Talent needs demand creativity
- Harris says that Banner Health has focused on how to best support its team members. In particular, emphasis on wellness and well-being has increased, as has promotion of self-care and the various programs the company makes available to its workforce.
- Banner invested nearly $35 million in creative approaches to support team members through compensation programs, including strengthening base pay for team members whose salaries were slipping below market. A hotspot bonus was instituted to provide additional compensation to team members on the frontlines of the pandemic. Further, incentives were paid to those who worked extra shifts.
- For individuals who were furloughed or took unpaid sabbaticals, Banner paid both employer and employee benefits premiums to ensure continued coverage. Another program, called SOS, helps employees experiencing difficulties by leveraging donations of paid time off.
- To fill vacancies in support positions (such as environmental services), the organization has partnered with retailers, restaurants, and other businesses that have laid off workers to offer temporary jobs.
- Support for managers … and others
- Recognizing the increased demands on managers to deal with employees’ pandemic-related needs, Gilead provided additional support through regular manager forums. Those virtual gatherings offer information and how-to advice on leading through crises, noticing and responding to mental health needs, and other critical issues.
- In addition, Gilead created tools designed to guide managers through difficult conversations about well-being and about accommodation needs. i4cp has published a case study on the company’s Manager’s Guide to Navigating Accommodation Requests.
- At Banner Health, employees are finding ways to connect patients with family members who can’t visit them in hospitals or be present at end-of-life moments. Staff have brought in their personal iPads and other devices to enable patients to see and speak with family members. “Our team is going through the same challenges as everyone else,” says Harris. “But they are going out of their way to show compassion and care for our patients.”
- Daily communications from Banner leadership begin with the number of lives saved – those in intensive care, on ventilators, and other critically ill patients who have had their health and lives restored. Harris says that starting each day with positive outcomes and the total of lives the healthcare system has saved offers a special moment of pride for Banner employees and reaffirms their efforts.
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