Hospitals vie for talent with perks beyond pay

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, hospitals and health systems have been focused on retaining employees by ensuring their staffing needs are met.  

While competitive pay is a key part of retaining workers, other perks like on-site daycare, housing and tuition reimbursement/assistance programs are also offered to workers. 

Housing:

Some hospitals are offering and building affordable housing for employees. This includes two St. Luke's hospitals in popular tourist towns in Idaho, which have seen several job applicants turn down positions because of high housing costs.

UCHealth Yampa Valley Medical Center and the city of Steamboat Springs, Colo., plan to start building affordable housing for hospital and city employees in July. The $4.5 million project consists of 12 units in a multifamily building for the hospital and 10 for the city.

Homebuyer assistance:

Beaufort (S.C.) has created a homebuyer assistance program that provides up to $10,000 in assistance for staff members who need help purchasing a home or refinancing mortgages. The funds can be used for down payments and closing costs.

Tuition coverage:

Some hospitals are also offering tuition coverage for workers. This includes Cincinnati-based Bon Secours Mercy Health, which offers workers 100 percent tuition-free education for priority clinical programs.

In a statement shared with Becker's, the health system said it entered a new partnership with Guild Education last year to create education benefit offerings that include: 100 percent tuition coverage for in-network priority clinical pathways, including nursing, medical assisting, laboratory and respiratory; up to $5,250 annually toward in-network academic programs and undergraduate degrees; and up to $10,000 annually toward in-network nursing and other graduate degrees. The health system said it also expanded its Student Loan Repayment Program.

In another example, Seattle Children's Hospital tripled its investment in its tuition assistance program for fiscal year 2022, from $225,000 to $1 million, Wendy Price, the hospital's director of workforce development and planning, told Becker's in November 2021. 

Child care: 

Altamonte Springs, Fla.-based AdventHealth offered in-home child care during the pandemic. Although the systemwide program is not ongoing, there are current child care programs that are market/hospital specific, spokesperson Melanie Lawhorn told Becker's

Take AdventHealth Shawnee Mission in Merriam, Kan., for example: The hospital offers an employer-sponsored child care program for AdventHealth employees and medical staff.

Ms. Lawhorn said the Early Learning program, which has been operating for more than four decades at Shawnee Mission, is not free for employees but it is a perk because it is on site and offers flexible scheduling. A nurse would not have to pay for a whole week if the individual only works two or three days a week.

The program is part of the B.E. Smith Family Center in Merriam and moved into a new building in April 2019, the Shawnee Mission Post reported.

Boston-based Mass General Brigham also offers child care to its employees and partnered with Bright Horizons in July 2021, the organization told Becker's. Mass General operates six child care centers that are managed by Bright Horizons, which offer child care at a lower cost.

Through the Bright Horizons partnership, employees can receive additional benefits like full-time, center-based child care, center-based and in-home backup child care, nanny services and tutoring. The hospital recently increased how much home backup care employees can use each year, now at 15 uses, compared to seven before the pandemic.

Mental health benefits:

At Chesapeake (Va.) Regional Healthcare, hospital officials brought in mental health experts and chaplains to help employees and hosted town-hall-style meetings so workers could express concerns to leadership, Reese Jackson, president and CEO of Chesapeake Regional Healthcare, told The Virginian-Pilot. Mr. Jackson also pointed to perks such as free lunches.

 

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