In the years since the Great Recession, unemployment levels have fallen across the U.S. while economic growth in the country has rebounded. As a result, competition for entry-level talent is growing, and many employers are struggling with employee turnover.
As this article is written for U.S. health systems, Catalyst Learning believes that benchmarking a few organizations in other fields can help health systems think outside the box. The organizations below are creating business and social value by investing in their entry-level talent, and some of these tactics can help U.S. health systems to stay competitive and prepare for the future.
A recent Accenture study found that 80% of entry-level workers expect some role training in their new jobs. However, many will not receive this training. This omission leads new hires who were once passionate employees to feel disillusioned and leave organizations within two years.
Not preparing a workforce for excelling in a current role and for future roles generally benefits no one, so why is this happening? It generally comes down to cost. Training can be costly, and the ROI on that training can be blurry. Instead, companies fill entry-level positions quickly and hope that new hires figure it out. Similar to investing in on-boarding, entry-level training has proven to be a strategy for operational excellence and growth.
Here are large scale organizations in different industries/sectors that have figured this out and serve as benchmarks for others.
Wegmans Food Markets (Grocer)
Wegmans is a regional grocery chain in the U.S. with stores ranging from upstate New York to Virginia. It has invested in training employees for decades. In 2017, Wegmans’ own employees voted them onto Fortune’s “Best Places to Work” list for the 20th year in a row. In 2018, they were #2 on the list. One Wegmans leader explained success this way: “We sell groceries, but we’re in the people business.” Wegmans is winning the war for talent by investing in its frontline entry-level employees, particularly those who have faced barriers to economic opportunity. New hires usually travel to different Wegmans locations to learn different parts of the business and to see opportunity, and they usually have at least 40-hours of on-the-job training. After initial training, extended training in different departments can last up to 14 weeks. Wegmans calls its training “Knowledge Based Service,” and trainees learn from all-star employees in their local area. Wegmans acknowledges that the training tactic is expensive. It is paying for trainee’s mileage, hotel, a regular wage and per diem, but the idea is to eliminate mistakes that inexperienced employees usually make. Disorganization is also expensive.
Only founded in 2007, Bonobos has established itself as a leader in the retail industry for its innovative approach to launching vertically integrated e-commerce brands in the U.S. With 165 full-time employees, Bonobos offers its program “Managing for Success” which teaches management skills to first time leaders. Bonobos also offers its “Fit for Success” program which focuses on performance management training. For new entry-level associates, Bonobos offers “How to Manage Up Well” which trains frontline associates how to navigate relationships with senior employees. Last, Bonobos offers its “Know Your Customer” training to prepare new employees with customer relations experience. The retail company offers these perks to help equip workers with skills needed to manage themselves and their teams. It also believes these programs rally people together and helps associates gather respect for each other’s skills and importance to the organization.
Marriott International (Hospitality)
A leading global hospitality company, Marriott has more than 200,000 employees at its managed properties, including 102,000 employees in the U.S. Marriott offers a variety of training to employees worldwide using multiple training delivery methods, including virtual training. The training focuses on developing skills and provides professional and career development training. Topic areas include work-life balance, leadership and management. Marriott offers this because it believes in well-being and growth of each employees says Arne Sorenson, President and CEO at Marriott International.
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts (State, Healthcare IT)
The Bay State earmarks hundreds of thousands of dollars to help spur new digital or hybrid competency-based training programs for entry-level healthcare employees. The state’s workforce development agency works to boost the skills of Massachusetts’ young adults through government investments and with community partnerships. According to Governor Charlie Baker, “healthcare, information technology and advanced manufacturing are among the most vital employment sectors in our state and is needed for Massachusetts’ future prosperity.”
Massachusetts isn’t just a national leader in healthcare and technology, it is a global leader in healthcare and technology. While clinical leaders at Boston Children’s, Massachusetts General, Tufts and Brigham & Women’s get the newspaper headlines, there are thousands of employees in entry and mid-level jobs, such as CNAs and health aides, who don’t have sufficient access to education and skill-building opportunities. The goal of this brand-new initiative (summer 2019) is to help upskill employees with digital training programs, which accomplishes the dual goal of boosting economic opportunity for workers while also addressing the state’s healthcare workforce shortages.
For some adults in Massachusetts, going back to a full-time classroom isn’t a realistic option, so these programs are built to help them. And with the rising demand for community-based care, health systems are facing growing challenges filling open positions. This type of program builds a career advancement ladder to develop the skills of staff, and the state’s investment helps hospitals to have the capacity to provide in-house IT training.
Training from the bottom-up reduces turnover rates, increases productivity, and attracts the right employees.
“Massachusetts to fund pilots expanding digital training for entry-level healthcare workers,” Healthcare IT News, July 16 2019, Mike Miliard
“New Wegmans employees travel for store training,” The Daily Progress, July 2017, Aaron Richardson
“Why Large Organizations Should Be Hyper-Focused On Entry-Level Employee Training,” eFrontLearning, 2018, Nikos Andriotis
“10 companies with awesome training and development programs,” Monster.com, Isabel Thottam
“Entry-Level Retention Makes a Billion Dollar Difference for Business and Society,” Rockefeller Foundation, March 27 2017, Kimberly Gilsdorf
“Why Companies Should Invest in the Retention of Entry-Level Employees,” Rockefeller Foundation, April 4 2017, Kimberly Gilsdorf