Simple Policy Fixes

Quick Steps to Real Impact

  • Adjust tuition reimbursement programs to allow for tuition advancement
  • Change policies that prevent hiring individuals with criminal records
  • Make diverse, inclusive, local hiring an explicit goal in the strategic plan

Adjust tuition reimbursement programs to allow for tuition advancement

Tuition advancement rather than tuition reimbursement does not create additional cost for the health system but can provide significant benefit to employees who might not have the savings to pay for certifications out of pocket. Instituting a policy that provides tuition advancement for employees below a certain wage threshold can make training opportunities more accessible. The potential cost is that it increases the risk for the health system that they will pay for training that the employee does not finish. Johns Hopkins University and Health System (Johns Hopkins) in Baltimore, Maryland has implemented practices to ameliorate this risk by requiring a one-year commitment from employees who receive tuition advancement. If the employee does not complete their training, they must pay back the tuition loan. However, career coaching throughout the process helps to identify any issues that may arise and prevent this from happening.  For further information about implementing tuition advancement programs, a recent policy brief from the National Fund for Workforce Solutions details the tuition advancement program at Children’s Hospital in Boston.

Change policies preventing the hire of individuals with criminal records

Sometimes policies exist that are well intentioned but create barriers to employment for community members and may force institutions to overlook qualified candidates

Sometimes policies exist that are well intentioned but create barriers to employment for community members and may force institutions to overlook qualified candidates. For example, one workforce intermediary in a mid-size city explained how policies at their largest anchor institution employer prevented the hire of anyone with bad credit or significant debt (non-criminal activities). The restriction covered a wide variety of positions, including administrative assistants and security guards, across many locations on campus that were deemed sensitive (e.g. art collections). In effect, many positions that local residents were qualified for were inaccessible to them. The policy has since been altered to exclude only those positions that handle significantly high value monetary transactions.1Boris Sigal, interview by David Zuckerman and Katie Parker, New Haven, CT, April 1, 2016, notes.

This same approach should be used to create job opportunities for those with criminal backgrounds. The prevailing logic that individuals with drug offenses cannot work in a healthcare setting creates extensive barriers to entry. While these individuals might not be able to work in a pharmacy setting, there are many positions within the healthcare system where they would not be interacting with pharmaceuticals, and where placement in these positions would not pose a risk. Johns Hopkins has taken this tailored approach, and rather than having a blanket policy, looks at each candidate on an individual basis.2Yariela Kerr-Donovan, interview by David Zuckerman and Katie Parker, Baltimore, MD, January 7, 2016, transcript.  Consequently, in 2015, they hired 174 employees with criminal records. In the Baltimore Business Journal, the president of the institution, Ronald R. Peterson, explained this approach as “a strategic part of the way we do business. We cannot afford to let good talent get away, even if that talent might need a second chance.”3Rick Seltzer, “Johns Hopkins, BGE headline $69 million local hiring and spending effort,” Baltimore Business Journal, April 4, 2016, www.bizjournals.com/baltimore/news/2016/04/04/johnshopkins-bge-headline-69-million-local-hiring.html

Make diverse, inclusive, and local hiring an explicit goal in the strategic plan

Highlighting the importance of supporting the local community through an emphasis on inclusion and diversity in organizational documents, such as the strategic plan, reinforces and institutionalizes local hiring efforts.

Highlighting the importance of supporting the local community through an emphasis on inclusion and diversity in organizational documents, such as the strategic plan, reinforces and institutionalizes local hiring efforts. Moreover, it helps to ensure that achieving local hiring goals becomes part of someone’s job. Advocate Health System in Illinois is developing an inclusive local hire effort and has brought on a system-level director who will oversee workforce development efforts at multiple hospitals, working with the staff on the ground at each hospital. Adding this staff position demonstrates that local hiring is a strategic priority for the system and ensures longevity of the efforts.4Clayton Prior, interview by David Zuckerman and Katie Parker, April 28, 2016, notes. For institutions without a dedicated staff person, embedding inclusive, local hiring as a strategic goal helps connect various departments (e.g. the office of diversity, community benefits, and human resources) that will need to work more closely together in order to implement this strategy.

Quick Practice Upgrades

  • Communicate with workforce partners and intermediaries about forecasted job needs
  • Tweak job descriptions to eliminate unnecessary requirements
  • Evaluate recruiters, hiring managers, and department heads on local hiring...

Readiness Checklist

Do a basic assessment of where your institution is at, and identify the steps you need to take to implement a local and inclusive hiring program.

References   [ + ]

1. Boris Sigal, interview by David Zuckerman and Katie Parker, New Haven, CT, April 1, 2016, notes.
2. Yariela Kerr-Donovan, interview by David Zuckerman and Katie Parker, Baltimore, MD, January 7, 2016, transcript.
3. Rick Seltzer, “Johns Hopkins, BGE headline $69 million local hiring and spending effort,” Baltimore Business Journal, April 4, 2016, www.bizjournals.com/baltimore/news/2016/04/04/johnshopkins-bge-headline-69-million-local-hiring.html
4. Clayton Prior, interview by David Zuckerman and Katie Parker, April 28, 2016, notes.