Lovelace Westside Hospital Knows Their Icebergs

Brian Beck PHR, MHROD
February 10, 2009 — 2,355 views  
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What exactly does the scene look like out there...or what will it look like?

·     11 million = Number of US workers age 55+ in the next eight years.

·     But, companies should be looking at strategies to continue to work these folks...right?

·     17% of employers said that this age group are "less attractive" than younger workers!

·     By the year 2020, registered nurses deficits will reach nearly 340,000!

·     By the year 2010, we will face a labor shortage of 10,033,000 people.

·     There is rumored to be a huge shortage of management candidates for industries.

·     Nursing schools can't turn out enough new grads to keep up with demand.

·     4 to 6 job changes in a career is no longer a stigma, instead, it's becoming the norm.

·     Journal of Business Strategy estimated that annual costs of US turnover to be $5 trillion in 2003.

·     Organizations are spending tens of thousands of dollars in advertisements.

·     Job fairs are becoming a joke....don't often produce strong candidates.

·     Conventions are expensive to recruit at.

·     Turnover continues to rise in a lot of companies and those organizations don't know why.

·     Xers and Y Generations are just too picky; take too much time to manage.

·     Love, inspire, guide, mentor, train, develop, allow for flexible scheduling?...who has the time?

The Psychoanalytic School of Thought (Motivation)-

One of a few schools of the psychology of human motivation, the idea behind the Psychoanalytic School of Thought (Freud), states that your outward manifestation of your psyche is kind of like the tip of a submerged iceberg.  The submerged portion of the iceberg represents your unconscious needs and motivation.

I've taken this concept to another level and applied it to the idea of recruitment and retention strategies.  Let's face it, the statistics noted above are real life situations that are currently happening or soon will be.  I would like to spend a bit more detail on what I believe are the conscious and unconscious needs (icebergs) that your employees are screaming for their managers and organization to pay attention to as a good retention tool(s).  First, let's look at how Lovelace Westside's HR metrics look.

Westside Hospital's HR Metrics/Recruitment/Retention

·     Nearly a 90% retention rate hospital wide.

·     In October of 2008, voted #54 into the Top 100 Best Places To Work in the country by Modern Healthcare Magazine, the only hospital in New Mexico to earn that designation.

·     In November of 2008, voted into the New Mexico Business Weekly's Best Places To Work in New Mexico.

·     Contract labor averaged 17 FTEs in February of of November of 2008, these contract labor positions have been eliminated because staffing has improved and retention strengthened.

·     Average number of open job requisitions has dropped 95% in less than 8 months.

·     93% drop in incurred costs 2007 vs 2008 in workers compensation.

·     Lovelace Westside holds the highest employee satisfaction survey marks in the whole of Ardent Health System ranked in the 95th percentile.

How does a 95-bed, 350 employees and another 140 volunteers pull these kinds of numbers off?  It's all about knowing your icebergs.

Taking a glance at the model above, what do you see?  Above the line you see items that describe who a person is on the outside.  Below the line, the submerged portion of the iceberg, is what we as managers often don't see or don't care to see in relation to our employees. 

Remember that Freud says the top portion of the iceberg is the outward manifestation of your psyche.  When looking at conscious, what you see, non-verbal, personality, behaviors, my desk/space, and who I may be, those are areas that an employee shows to the workforce each day.  It can be seen in how they act, their moods, work and process flow, how they do their jobs, how they view the organization, etc.  When thinking about this kind of information, most managers will say that they do know their staff.  However, what about the bottom half?  Most managers don't understand these kinds of "touchy-feely" concepts of their staff, but yet this is the most important part of who they are!  Let's spend a little time below the water level.

Inspire Me

Here you need to be of strong support to your employees and staff.  Take them to the next level; show them you care about their development.  Please throw away the older management concept of "chain of command."  I'm here to tell you that this concept will not work with 21st century management.  The next generations of employees only respect a leader after the leader has shown respect to them.  A leader that inspires, and really takes the concept of servant leadership to the highest mark, will see the lowest turnover and the highest productivity from their teams, it's just that simple.  Inspire me is all about being one with an employee.  You provide the tools, you provide the means for them to do their jobs, give them what they need. 

Love Me

Big hugs?  Not necessarily, but employees are wanting to be cared about.  We spend a lot of time at work and as human beings, we need to feel cared about and loved, even when we're away from our families.  Then again, how many times do you hear in the workforce that your department is "one big family?"  When your employees espouse those kinds of feelings, they are real.  Take it easy HR folks, no need to panic.  However, managers, I'm serious about this concept.  Love can be shown so many different ways and the dividends are huge!

Listen/Communicate/Talk With Me

One of the top reasons why people leave companies is lack of communication with their manager.  Let's face it; people leave companies because of bad management.  Feel free to give me a call or email and I can elaborate.  I've studied and participated in exit interviews and no matter what the reason the exiting employee gives, down deep inside, it's the manager that is the reason.  Communicate with me!....say your staff.  Listen, talk to me, tell me how we're doing, how does my position contribute to the common good, or simply take some time to just talk to me and tell me how your weekend was.  Through good communication techniques, a manager can break down so many barriers of mistrust with employees.  Get and keep employees engaged, have them work hard for you and really go the extra mile for their leader......communicate with them.

Know Me

Do you know your employees?  It doesn't matter whether you manage 5 or 50, the question is do you know your staff?  Who are they?  What are their likes and dislikes?  How about their favorite thing to do on the weekend?  We spend so much time as managers talking about how we can retain our people.  In fact, 80% of companies talk about retention strategies, but only 20% actually execute plans to combat it.  It's sad really.  Do you know me?  Make it a part of your schedule to spend one on one time with staff to learn about them.  Goals?  Dreams?  Inspirations?  Phobias?  Greatest successes?  Take the time to get to know your staff.

Care About Me

Earlier in my HR career, I once thought that employees needed to leave their personal issues at the door when they walked into the office.  Leave your personal problems on that virtual hanger on the door when you come to work and pick it up when you leave.  How wrong I was!  It took me nearly ten years to observe and understand just the opposite.  If our staff has personal issues going on, it's our job as managers to assist them with getting through those tough times as much as we can.  Organizations often have many tools to assist with this.  Despite your personal proxemics, this could be the best time to offer a hug to a staff member or even a prayer.  Managers and leaders, we need to hold ourselves accountable to loving our employees.  In other words, if we can pay as much attention to employee's needs as we do with P&P and SOP, we'd be in a much better place as an organization.  Take the time to show some love!

Family, Friend, Interests

It never ceases to amaze me just how little most managers know about their employees in this area.  Do your staff members have brothers, sisters, children, special interests?  What do they like to do?  Aspire to become?  Pictures on desks or cubicles are good starting points.  Most people have a bunch of family pictures, mementos, or memories sitting around their work space.  I'll bet you that their faces will light up when you take an interest in those pictures and items....they are what make up your employee's life!  It's part of their submerged iceberg. 


The main point of this article was to challenge managers to consider a concept that if managed correctly, can greatly increase your company retention rates, save a lot of money, and make your customers happy to do business with your organization.  Organizations that ignore the iceberg, simply continue to float in a sea of worry, loss of resources, and revenue.  I'm not saying that this concept of getting to know your employees below the line/water level is going to be easy.  In fact, as a manager, it could be the most challenging task you've had to take on.  Yet it's so critical to the success of your recruitment and retention strategies.  Don't "not" have the time to exercise these concepts.  Your organization can't afford to wait. 

Some have argued with me on these ideas that it's too much for managers to get this involved with their staff.  After all, there are privacy issues, and quite frankly, do I really need to know, as their manager, what their personal problems are, their fears, worries, and other items that are going on in their lives?  My answer to those who pose this question is this:  Yes, if you want to really attain the retention goals you are after, you will need to find some opportunities to walk through those doors, some slighter than others, but do walk. 

Bottom line is your organization must contribute funding, time, attention, and drive to leadership development tools.  This needs to be more than an eight hour training session on conflict management for example, and then sending the trainees on their way.  This is a big deal that needs to be driven into management minds.  Lovelace Westside offers two weeks worth of leadership development sessions and retreats that HR sponsors and delivers each year.  These are fun, worthwhile, and mandatory to the group.  This is the meat of all the above concepts, facts and figures.  Lovelace Westside was not able to drive the kinds of HR metrics that we have been able to have, nor secure the kind of culture that we have based around the iceberg principles without the leadership development. 

If you would like to learn more, or wish to discuss in detail, please feel free to give me a call or send an email.  I would enjoy an opportunity to discuss strategies on how you can offer more love to your staff and company.

Brian Beck, PHR, MHROD
Director of Human Resources
Lovelace Westside Hospital
(505) 727-2255
[email protected]

Brian Beck PHR, MHROD


Brian J. Beck, PHR, M.H.R.O.D., has worked in the human resources field for over 15 years, focusing on recruitment/retention, HR strategic planning, organization and leadership development.