Understand Your Workforce Needs to Produce Optimal Engagement

Nicole D’Uva

AVP of Employee Health & Lifework Strategies at Adventist HealthCare

Learning Objectives

Learn how Adventist HealthCare introduced new benefits during the COVID-19 pandemic to foster engagement. By anticipating employees childcare, transportation, and physical & mental health needs; employees remained engaged throughout a year long pandemic.

Key Takeaways:

  • Childcare resources for any budget

  • Creative partnerships to subsidize transportation

  • Combatting healthcare worker burnout during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond

"By anticipating the needs of our workforce during this critical time it allowed us to be successful by not only maintaining operations throughout the pandemic, but also maintaining employee engagement. "

Nicole D’Uva

AVP of Employee Health & Lifework Strategies at Adventist HealthCare


Hi, everyone, my name is Nicole to D’Uva. I serve as the Associate Vice President of employee health benefits and life work strategies here at Adventist health care, the health system in Montgomery County, Maryland.

The topic I’d like to speak with you about today is understanding your workforce needs to produce optimal engagement. And this healthcare is the first and largest health system in Montgomery County, Maryland. I’d like to share a little bit with you about our experience during the global pandemic. Many consider 2020 last year. Well, this is definitely true I like to think of 2020 is an evolutionary year for our organization. It’s been filled with learning. In 2020, we learn to be nimble, creative and offer solutions that address the challenges that our workforce faces. Today, I’d like to share with you our learnings around transportation, childcare care, and health care worker burnout. By anticipating the needs of our workforce during this critical time, it allowed us to be successful and not only maintaining operations throughout the pandemic, but also maintaining employee engagement. One of the first areas that I’d like to talk to you about is transportation. Many of you know and saw firsthand that the world began to shut down last year, more than ever, our hospitals needed to be opened and filled with skilled staff that were needed to treat patients in fight COVID-19. Our goal was to make sure that we could proactively address the concerns of employees, these concerns that they would have that would take their attention away from their normal day to day duties. And by addressing those prior to them becoming an issue, we could not only alleviate the stress for individuals but sustain our operations. One of the first things that we needed to do was quantify the need for transportation. We know that 50% of our workforce lives in montgomery county, maryland and according to the United States Census Bureau, almost 16% of all workers in montgomery county use public transit as their primary means of commuting to work. We needed to find a solution that made sure that our employees were here at our acute care facilities each and every day and on time. This led to our decision to leverage our existing relationship. Our population health team had already maintained a contract with Uber health, we latched on to that information and were quickly able to add Under the agreement and the same terms of Uber business account, that Uber business account subsidized transportation to and from our acute care settings. Here’s the nuts and bolts of the program that we offered. We utilize the Uber app to make sure that employees had the ability to book a ride to and from our acute care facilities. This program ran from March of 2020 through September. At that time, Adventist healthcare offered a subsidy of up to $10 for all of our riders. After Metro resumed a limited transportation schedule and Venice healthcare continued our commitment to transportation and easing the burdens of commute for our employees. This ensured that after a long shift from caring for patients, individuals didn’t have to wait for the next bus to come along to be able to get home. We wanted them to be able to rest immediately after shifts to prevent burnout, and also promote wellbeing. Throughout the seven month period, we provided employees with close to 17,000 rides from their home to our facilities. And we were proud to do so. So proud that Uber actually provided a case study about the program that Adventist healthcare created. We sat in a very privileged place here in the United States because we really had the opportunity to learn from our European counterparts and learn from other states as the virus moved from west to East. As schools and daycare facilities are closed across the country, Adventist healthcare recognized a need to prioritize our employees and their families. This would allow them to continue to care for patients in our community.

We chose to implement very various levels of assistance based on the needs of our workforce. Level One was something that any employer can do, we offered remote work when feasible, offered flexibility and start and end times for those who had the ability to do so and created flexibility and the ability to change ships for acute care facilities and hospital based workers. We had a very robust employee assistance program prior to the onset of the pandemic. And so we leveraged that as a get a low cost option that we could provide. Our employee assistance program provided not only childcare, Reese’s, but elder care resources as well knowing that some of our workforce were a part of that sandwich generation, not just caring for small children, but caring for their aging parents as well. As part of our EAP program and suite of services. We offered proactive education, seminars and resource documents that helped individuals locate the care that they so badly needed. As a level three opportunity, we took the existing resource, our Laurie center, those employees had been laid off due to the pandemic and the facilities were close. But we had skilled teachers who wanted to do nothing more than care for children, and what better children to care for then the children of our frontline workers, the Laurie center were able to serve in a daycare capacity. When we ran out of space at the Lurie center, we decided how can we continue to grow this program and so we entered into a relationship with kindercare. At first, we offered fully subsidized care, and transitioned as do daycare facilities began to open up to provide subsidized care based on income level. One of the things that we noticed was that our workforce was at varying pay scales. And across the country, we started to notice that those who could afford to were receiving child care from premium sources, I mean, the cost to have an in home nanny or any sort of in home childcare ballooned in 2020. And so we recognize that there was going to be a very steep gap in the education and the care that children received based on the annual income of their parents. And this was something that we needed to make sure did not occur within our community. providing excellent care at affordable rates and subsidizing or fully subsidizing that care for parents throughout the organization was an important part of saying thank you for the work that they were doing on our frontlines. I’d like to share with you just a few of my favorite quotes from the feedback that we received from employees. One of our Adventist health care leader said, one of my direct reports as a single mom and was just recounting to me how impactful this service has been for her, enabling her to work and serve during these critical times. an Adventist healthcare employee writes, I’m so happy for the great news that Adventist healthcare keeps helping employees. My family is so thankful that I work for Adventist. These emails and notes that we received from employees were honestly the bright spot and all of our days. It affirmed for us that the work that we were doing was meaningful and valued by our employees. I’d like to share with you the mission of our employee resiliency program to increase how their health care worker resiliency and prevent burnout by engaging employees in education, supportive resources, and a three pronged approach to use mental, physical and spiritual well being. This mission statement aligns with the mission statement of Adventist health care bringing in those three Mark keys of mental, physical and spiritual healing. We have a very mature employee assistance program. GRAEME as I shared prior, and this was implemented far in advance of the pandemic, prior to the pandemic, our clinicians were offering educational resources. They were staffing a call line, but they were also rounding within our health care facilities to put a name and a face to the program and the supportive resources that were available to them. So it only made sense that we leveraged this program to assist in the prevention of health care worker burnout. And so one of the things that we did prior to the onset of the pandemic, knowing what was coming our way, was increased the number of telehealth providers that we had within our network, we wanted to make sure that all those health professional offices were shutting down, that individual still had a clear path to reach mental health providers. In addition, we began offering daily support groups. These daily support groups were marketed by our EAP clinicians to leaders throughout our acute care facilities and throughout the system. We offer them twice a day at shift change. And the outpouring of support and sharing that we received was amazing. You’ll see the graph to the right shows just how many sessions we were able to offer April through July. And the number of individuals that came to us and shared their experiences shared what they were seeing on the unit, shared their struggles with others, and received caring support not only from licensed mental health providers, but also the peer support, someone standing beside them that knew what they were going through at the bedside, could cry with them could comfort them could pray with them, and continue to help move us forward. Our presence for EAP has certainly shifted at this time, and we’ve started to work on our PTSD education and support. We recognize that the past year has been a challenge for all, no more than a challenge for our bedside caregivers who have witnessed people being sick and with an illness that we’ve never seen before. They got to witness happy moments of patients being reunited with their family following their hospitalization. But we also saw some moments where without patients being able to have the support of loved ones in their room, our doctors, our nurses, our CNAs stepped in to be able to serve his family during those difficult times. So we know that our programming needs to change post pandemic, to really be able to support the individuals. How do we know it works? Well, we know that our employees are engaged and we know that we are doing our best to continually offer new and exciting resources for them that meet the needs that they have either as an individual, as a family, as a caregiver. In 2020, Adventist health care was named America’s best in state employers by Forbes. Our desire to be the best place to work and grow continues as Adventist healthcare moves forward and outside of this global pandemic. Thank you so much for giving me this opportunity to share our year here at Adventist healthcare. And to further share with you how understanding the needs of our employees is really the first step in engagement. I hope you’ll be able to use some of these programs and offerings that we’ve put in place at your organization.

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