During times of full employment, healthcare systems often find it harder to fill entry-level roles, and HR leaders spend too much time recruiting! To retain top employees, it’s important to think about those “next level,” hard-to-fill roles and how to prepare motivated entry-level staff to someday fill them.
While leaders can come from many different places in the organization, here are five examples of roles that have transferable skills, where workers could move up in the company if they’re given supplemental skill training. Recognizing potential and growing the skills of entry-level workers can help you show your employees there are career paths available. It also can help you begin to build a talent pipeline.
1) Administrative Assistant: Successful employees in this role need to be organized, have good interpersonal skills, and be skilled at managing information flow among executives, abilities that can help AA’s move into a department management position. (If AA’s can manage the VP, managing a team may come easy!) When talented personnel in these roles start looking for new challenges, don’t let them go to your competitor. Offer opportunities to improve skills needed to advance with internal programs designed to teach conflict management, adapting to change or stress management.
2) Patient Assistant: Patient assistants play a critical role in delivering care, and the job provides them with direct patient experience and familiarity with medical terminology. These skills are required in better paying jobs such as physical therapy assistant. Help employees who excel in this role prepare for the next step in their career with training to develop skills associated with patient engagement, service recovery, and handling unsafe situations.
3) Medical Secretary: Managing the various duties associated with this role requires attention to detail, strong organizational skills, and the ability to prioritize tasks. Employees who excel in this role are able to transition into department secretaries or managers. You can support their career growth with training that focuses on communicating more effectively, including how to better organize their thoughts, be concise, and improve listening skills.
4) Food Service Worker: Whether they prepare the food or work in customer-facing roles, good food service workers are adept at working as part of a team, managing supplies, and following health and safety rules for food storage and preparation. A solid understanding of food service responsibilities can help entry-level workers move on to manage employees in nutrition, food delivery or dietary departments. Provide star employees with training to help them get set up for career success and understand possible career paths that are available in food management in your organization.
5) Help Desk Support: Troubleshooting basic IT problems requires employees to have strong problem-solving skills, good customer services skills, and familiarity with your systems and IT setup. Employees with strong IT skills can be an asset in a hospital’s IT department, serving as analysts or project managers. Help them hone the skills such as developing good work habits, building strong relationships, and understanding organizational expectations. This can allow them to take on greater responsibilities in a new role.
Employees who excel in these, and other entry-level, roles can move up in your organization instead of taking their job experience to your competitors. With the skills they’ve learned on the job and employee development support, the foundation is built for professional growth. These employees can go on to higher-paying jobs such as patient services representatives, department secretaries, or patient care technicians. They also can advance to department supervisor or management roles in nutrition, environmental services, and other key departments.
What does a real-world success story look like?
In 2012, Wendy Fausett started working for UnityPoint Health as a frontline employee working in housekeeping. Although she wanted to advance her career at UnityPoint Health, she thought her criminal background and a lack of formal higher education would prevent her from moving up. However, by working with a Retention Specialist at UnityPoint, Wendy realized that possessing the right skills was the most important factor in advancement and that her background would not stop her from securing a promotion.
Through participation in UnityPoint’s School at Work program, Wendy started developing managerial, interview, and professional skills, which allowed her to successfully apply for and secure a promotion as a housekeeping supervisor. Wendy’s training led to both career advancement and a wage increase of more than $5.00 per hour.*
Don’t just offer a job, offer a career path
While you may already have programs such as tuition assistance to help employees advance, entry-level workers often need more support to move into other roles. Basic skills training and career development programs can help entry-level employees build a strong foundation for success. When skills training is provided in conjunction with career development support, it creates momentum that helps fully prepare entry-level workers to advance.
Think more about employee engagement, so you can ideally focus less on recruitment
Workforce development helps your employees realize their full potential and allows you to promote people who already know, and share, your organization’s core values. Of course not all entry-level workers are thinking about career advancement but basic skills training can improve their current job performance, satisfaction, and morale.
Ultimately, the money invested in employee development can help curtail the high cost of replacing talented employees who move on to other jobs with more opportunities for growth. Emphasizing your commitment to helping employees grow and advance will also help you attract candidates who are looking for a career, and not just a job.
*Information provided by the National Fund for Workforce Solutions, and its CareerStat Frontline Healthcare Worker Program.