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Starting on the right foot: New committee sees early improvement in employee retention

02/15/24 01:00:pm

A new committee focused on starting employees on the right foot is off to a strong launch of its own.

About six months after a “First 100 Days” committee was formed to improve onboarding, data shows recent improvements in 90-day retention.

Jamie Wood, executive director of Learning and Culture Advancement, says that not only benefits new employees, but the whole team, from stable scheduling to a knowledgeable workforce.

“Retention is massive,” Jamie says. “Would you rather work in a place where it’s new people training new people all the time or a place where there’s some real seasoned people and longevity is valued and admired? That’s the kind of place people get excited for and find meaning showing up to work.”

Jamie says historically, about 80% of employees tended to stay with Rogers to the 90-day mark, meaning about one in five ended up leaving.

Now, Jamie says as the most recent cohort of new employees near completion of their first 90 days, data shows nearly 95% are still with the System.


June retention graph.JPG Oct retention graph.JPG


“When I meet new teammates on day one in orientation, they all come from such different backgrounds and experiences,” Jamie says. “Yet, something in them feels the pull to serve in behavioral health. Providing a good initial experience is our way of honoring their desire to serve and make behavioral health a career path for them.”

He points to several recent onboarding changes he thinks have made a difference, including an investment in the advanced physical skills curriculum in the first week of New Employee Orientation.

“Getting people to recognize what the environment is actually going to be like and feel confident that they’re going to have the physical skills to be safe has been a huge improvement,” Jamie says.

Kortney Kappel, who started as a mental health technician in West Allis around the beginning of the year, says her onboarding experience has been positive.

“Everyone is willing to help you learn and give you the materials you need to be successful,” Kappel says. “Everyone has been caring, and I never felt judged.”

Changes also include improved handoff from orientation and early integration into employees’ teams, along with a training curriculum on how to be a preceptor, a responsibility that can now help career growth.

“This team has done amazing work to improve our onboarding, from position acceptance through their preceptorship,” says Sylvia Winzentsen, director of residential services in West Allis and Brown Deer. “This work has directly led to improvement both in our 90-day retention and our new staff feeling more supported and better trained.”

The focus on a strong team extends to those behind the efforts. Jamie says the committee itself is a result of a large collaborative effort across departments.

“The people who are on the committee are wonderful, intelligent, caring people who want Rogers to be a fantastic place to work and a fantastic place to receive care,” he says.

Jamie says the committee is just getting started, devoted to trying new strategies and learning how best to improve the employee experience from day one and beyond.

“We’re going to get very specific about this. We want to start thinking about key moments, like how a person feels when they walk into day one,” he says. “This is something we’re intending to spend a lot of attention on for the foreseeable future.”

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