To build a workforce that can respond to the healthcare industry’s rapid transformation, Scripps Health, in San Diego, accommodates the needs of employees at the beginning, middle, and later stages in their careers. The result is higher morale and impeccable performance. “One-size-fits-all HR practices don’t work when you want a diverse, knowledge-based workforce,” says Victor Buzachero, corporate senior vice president for innovation, human resources, and performance management. “Originally many HR practices were designed primarily to be consistent and to avoid legal issues. Today our focus is on HR practices that engage people and encourage a higher contribution.”
For example, Scripps has implemented daily “huddles,” where workers can offer input and affect decisions—something especially prized by millennial employees. “In the past workers wanted a supervisor who acted like a “boss.” Buzachero say, “Today they want a supervisor who acts like a coach, and we’re educating our supervisors to be strong coaches.”
In one program, seasoned nurses are trained to mentor recent nursing graduates to improve their critical-thinking skills; as a result, the graduates indicate they feel more prepared for their role. Scripps currently offers over 1,870 skills-building, leadership training, and continuing education units.
Scripps also encourages movement across the organization to remain a career destination for talent mid-career. For example, workers in medical surgical units can receive 26 weeks of training to shift into areas where skilled workers are in short supply, such as operating rooms.
Also, traditional retirement packages that max out at age 60 can encourage these experienced workers to leave, even if they want to continue working. Scripps lets retirement plans continue to grow past age 65, while allowing staged retirement programs such as job sharing. “One of our most successful clinical nursing units is managed by two women who job share,” Buzachero says. “If we didn’t offer that kind of flexibility, they may have gone somewhere else.”
This lifeycle approach creates a diverse workforce able to address the healthcare industry’s mandate to improve outcomes while cutting costs. “As patients ask for more and more from us, we need a workforce with all-encompassing view and innovative approach, Buzachero says. “But we can only build a highly skilled, varied workforce if we satisfy the many career needs of a varied workforce.”
When Mary Barra was a kid, she used to hang out in the garage with her dad tinkering on cars. Little did her father, a lifelong die-maker for GM’s Pontiac division, know that his daughter would one day become the CEO of the company and the first woman ever to lead a major U.S. car manufacturer. But that’s what happened in 2013. Barra was unanimously chosen by the board members of General Motors to lead the company—a decision employees cheered when they heard about it over the loudspeakers at corporate headquarters. Maybe they cheered because unlike GM’s previous two CEOs, Barra was one of them. Having worked in multiple departments at GM since she was 18, she knows the car business through and through. “There’s nobody with more years of honest ‘car guy’ credentials than she has,” says Ross Gordon in the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan.
Barra, who grew up in a Detroit suburb, initially began working for GM in the 1980s as part of a work-study program. In this program, which is also referred to as a co-op program, students alternate working full time (for pay) and going to college. She earned an undergraduate degree in electrical engineering and GM later sent her to Stanford, where she got an MBA. During her career she has rotated through various positions at GM. Besides working in engineering and design, she managed one GM’s manufacturing plants and most recently was the senior vice president for global product development and quality control. Under her watch, the company has rolled out successful models that have helped bring the company back out of bankruptcy during the latest economic recession.
Barra has a reputation for getting results. Not only does she know cars, she knows people and how to manage them. When an updated version of the Chevy Malibu floundered because of design and other problems, she mobilized a team of employees and found a way to fix the Malibu in record time. Her great people management skills might explain why when GM was going through bankruptcy, she was put in charge of human resources for GM, an area she had never worked in before. GM hoped putting her in the job would prevent key talent from heading for the exits during the bankruptcy process. It did and GM bounced back. In 2016, GM sold more than 10 million vehicles worldwide, and its net income exceeded $9 billion. GM’s Chevy Volt was named North American Car of the Year in 2017, and the company announced a partnership to develop on-demand, self-driving vehicles in conjunction with the ride-sharing company Lyft. In short, the company is on a roll.
Sue Meisinger, formerly the president and CEO of the Society of Human Resources Management, says that Barra’s being named CEO underscores the importance of HR personnel working in and understanding different areas of their firms. “If you’re interested in a career path that extends beyond HR, you need to have experience in multiple facets of the business,” Meisinger says. She notes that for many HR professionals, their crowning achievement is to be the head of HR. Barra’s rise to CEO, however, will have many of these professionals shifting their career goals.