A former Target exec is transforming Banner into the 'employer of the future'

Naomi Cramer spent 25 years working at Target, where she rose in the ranks to become vice president of talent management, before joining Phoenix-based Banner Health six years ago.

She brought many lessons learned in retail to her role as Banner's chief human resources officer, which became particularly useful when the pandemic hit. Ms. Cramer joined the Becker's Healthcare Podcast to discuss what healthcare can learn from retail, talent acquisition trends and more during an episode that aired April 6.

Click here to download the full episode.

Note: This response is lightly edited for clarity and style.

Question: After being an executive at Target for so many years, what lessons were you able to take to Banner? Was there anything innovative you were able to bring to the table?

Naomi Cramer: Sometimes in healthcare we make things a little bit more complex than they have to be. Clinical care is complex, but not everything related to people has to be. I was able to bring simplicity to the table. We aligned data with our people to give them more opportunity to thrive in their careers, and we became a little bit more transparent. We've really been on a journey to become the 'employer of the future.'

How do we become the best employer out there, not just in healthcare, but anywhere? That's based on being more transparent, having better technology and having a lot of flexibility. We had to practice that flexibility during COVID-19 with things like working from home and having meetings in different ways, structuring our pay and time benefits a bit differently to help team members who work remotely.

We've learned a whole lot, and I would say over the last 12 months, our 'employer of the future' initiative we had started a couple years ago went into acceleration.

Q: What are the big challenges in talent acquisition right now for health systems?

NC: Talent acquisition is challenging, in particular in nursing. We saw a large number of nurses leave [during the pandemic]. Some just stayed home with their kids, as they were homeschooling, or decided to change careers after the devastation they went through. The same with clinicians. So we have a little bit higher vacancies than we had before, and our retention could be better. We're trying to do some really converted things around flexible scheduling, different pay initiatives and working on the 'employer of the future' idea, so we can offer not just the typical 12-hour shifts, but also shorter shifts for a little more of the lifestyle our nurses want. We want to be competitive with all things nursing.

I think most of my peers across the country feel the same way. That's probably what keeps us up at night: the shortage of nurses.

More articles on healthcare leadership:
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