By Todd Schmiedeler
Today, America is boasting its lowest unemployment rate in 50 years. According to the non-farm payrolls report, the number currently sits at 3.5 percent. Employers all over the U.S. are struggling to navigate this tight labor pool, and healthcare, like most other industries, is feeling the pain.
At Trilogy Health Services (Trilogy), instead of placing most of our focus on recruiting new talent, we’ve been executing aggressive and innovative strategies to invest in the talent we already have. Recruitment, more so than retention, has been our focus. Here are a few of the initiatives we are proudest of:
Quarterly Wage Investments
Trilogy offers Quarterly Wage Investments to all hourly employees. Most recently (3Q2019), all hourly employees will now see an increase in pay every three months (once per company quarter)! Our nurse aides, dietary aides, cooks, housekeepers, activities assistants and med techs/QMAs all received a 1.5 percent increase on October 1. It’s Trilogy’s responsibility to care for them as they care for others. We’re passionate about continuously investing in the fiscal well being of our employees.
According to a recent CareerBuilder Survey, many employees want to get ahead in their career, but aren’t offered educational opportunities to learn the skills needed to do so. For example:
- Only 32 percent of employees are satisfied with the training and learning opportunities at their current company.
- 58 percent of employees think that their company does not offer enough opportunities to learn new skills and grow their career.
- If offered, 73 percent of employees whose companies do not currently offer educational opportunities or workshops outside of work hours say they would be likely to participate if they were available.
The message is clear: Employees want employers who help them grow.
In 2017, Trilogy began to build out our Fast Track Apprenticeship programs with the goal of providing our employees solid career pathways. Our first step was to register our Nurse Aide and Culinary Apprenticeship programs with the Department of Labor. Over the past three years, more than 5,200 nationally recognized certifications have been earned by over 3,500 employees. Most importantly, the improved skills and pay raises that are a result of these programs have positively impacted employee retention.
For example, over the past year, nurse aides that have earned at least one certification have an 80 percent retention rate – compared to a 51 percent retention rate for nurse aides that did not earn a certification during that same time.
Over the next six months, Trilogy will expand our apprenticeship programs by developing a stackable apprentice model for both clinical and non-clinical campus roles.
Reducing Student Loan Debt
The presidential debates have shined more light on the student loan debt crisis in America. Today, more than 44 million Americans have outstanding student loan debt. All told, this debt now totals more than $1.5 trillion. For so many of our employees, their debt is an elephant sitting on their chest.
Over the past few years, Trilogy has been helping our employees pay off these loans by providing $100/month towards their principal. This year, we enhanced our efforts by partnering with Tuition.io. Over 1,200 employees have now received financial education and support, totaling $1 million in principal payments.
Some companies ask, “Is there a ROI?” Our answer is that retention for employees in the student loan repayment program is 3.54 years, while a comparable group not in the student loan program is 1.28 years.
This June, we entered into a partnership with Purdue Global to offer free tuition to all full-time and part-time employees. With 172 degrees to choose from, our employees can obtain a degree in their field of choice, without being saddled with nearly unmanageable debt. Currently, more than 400 employees are enrolled at Purdue Global. Through the Trilogy Foundation, we have also awarded more than 2,400 scholarships to employees attending other schools.
The labor market in Kentucky and throughout the country remains very tight, but we’ve found that our strategy is working. We continue to see higher retention and lower year-over-year turnover. But perhaps most importantly, we continue to hear from employees who believe in what they do, because their employer believes in them.
-Todd Schmiedeler is SVP of Foundation & Workforce Development at Trilogy Health Services.