Inside Scripps' 'leadership academy' — the force behind its workforce wins in 2023

Workforce retention is top of mind for the many healthcare leaders as staffing shortages run rampant.

Some health systems have gone all-in on solving this growing crisis. At Scripps Health in San Diego, worker retention rate and headcount notably increased in 2023.

Eric Cole, Scripps' corporate senior vice president of human resources, joined Becker's to share how the system revamped its strategy to maintain a thriving workforce. 

Editor's note: This response has been lightly edited for length and clarity. 

Question: How has Scripps Health changed the most over the last year, and what change/update that you made in 2023 as a chief human resources officer has paid off the most?

Eric Cole: In the last year, Scripps Health has focused intently on retaining our valuable workforce. Using a multifaceted approach that leverages workforce predictive analytics, multiple listening posts and staff ideas, suggestions and decisions that affect their work, we increased our workforce retention rate from 82% to 88% (82% to 89% for RNs). We also decreased agency and traveler dependency from over 300 to less than 30 and increased our workforce headcount through recruitment by 6% (11% for RNs). These outcomes allow our workforce to support Scripps’ national recognition for delivering high-quality patient care, reflected by our ranking among the top 15 health systems in the United States this year by Premier Inc. artificial intelligence.

In 2023, Scripps relaunched our Front-Line Leader Academy, one of our unique leadership development and cultural assimilation programs. Led by our CEO, Chris Van Gorder, and supported by the chief human resources officer and chief medical officer, this program brings multiple cohorts of supervisors together to help front-line supervisors cultivate and use open communication, authenticity, empathy and other tenets of front-line leadership to foster healthy, productive teams. We have received feedback from participants that the Front-Line Leader Academy has been a transformational experience. Continuing these development opportunities and supporting their growth is integral in maintaining and improving our workforce retention efforts.

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