HR policy changes benefit hospital employees

Continuing its efforts to be a great place to work, Rush Memorial Hospital recently announced changes in its pay and benefits practices.

Beginning in July, the hospital’s minimum wage was raised to $12 an hour. This is $4.75 an hour or $9,880 a year above the Federal Minimum Wage of $7.25 an hour or $15,080 a year. For some entry level employees, this change resulted in an overnight pay increase of over $4,000 a year.

In a follow up to the minimum wage increase, RMH has announced the implementation of a “day one” benefits policy beginning Oct. 1. This policy gives new employees the ability to use all benefits, including medical, dental and vision insurance, starting the first day of their employment.

In another recent move, RMH has implemented a new employee development program. This program offers individual training and guidance to help employees improve current job performance while simultaneously advancing personal career goals.

These changes are the latest steps in a strategic plan designed by RMH Vice President of Human Resources, Brian Bane. The purpose of this highly successful plan has been to improve patient care by attracting and retaining the best employees at every level of the organization.

Major elements in the plan include the identification of opportunities for improvement, the development of employee support and the implementation of changes in HR policies.

One of the first acts in implementing the plan was the establishment of an employee recognition program. Each month co-workers and supervisors nominate outstanding employees for recognition. One Employee of the Month is chosen from among the nominees. At the end of the year, these employees compete for the title of Employee of the Year. The winner is given 5 days of PTO in which to take a $5,000 vacation. Past Employees of the Year have chosen trips to Rome, Jamaica and Hawaii.

Previous plan-related improvements have included expanding benefit and perk options, introducing flexible scheduling where appropriate, replacing the old “opt in” retirement plan with an incentivized “opt out” plan and enhancing personal time off options. RMH has also hired an outside agency to help qualified employees apply for student loan repayment and forgiveness programs, as well as programs providing tuition assistance.

The former Employee Wellness program has also been expanded. Rather than just addressing physical health, a more integrated approach was adopted. The newly renamed Employee Well-Being Program addresses physical, career, financial, social, and community priorities. The goal is to benefit not only the employee’s quality of life, but the quality of life of the employee’s family as well.

Brian’s multi-year plan required a substantial financial investment on the part of the hospital, as well as active participation at all administrative levels. This would not have been possible without a major commitment from CEO Brad Smith, who summarizes the HR plan as simply “doing the right thing” for hospital employees.

While many of the major goals of the HR plan have been achieved, the plan is not complete. RMH continues to strive for positive change. An annual Employee Engagement Survey helps identify necessary course adjustments. Survey results help the hospital keep track of where it is, so it can identify a path to maximum employee well-being. This ensures that RMH builds on its strengths, improves on its weaknesses and maintains the well-being of its employees as a top priority.