Employers that make lasting investments in their frontline workers have mastered the art of leveraging resources from a variety of sources to start, scale, and sustain programs and infrastructure. Co-investment with philanthropy, other employers, unions, community- based organizations and government is the key to transitioning from temporary program-based funding for frontline worker development to more sustained funding of infrastructure supported by an organization’s operational budget.
Secure Seed Funding and Develop Co-Investment Strategies
Often, seed capital provided by public grants and philanthropic investments brings employers and other stakeholders together to create workforce development programs. Outside support has enabled health care workforce investments to become both more intensive, by providing a deeper level of services and career opportunities for incumbent workers, and more extensive, by expanding the pool of employees or community members supported and the range of occupations engaged. In 2004, Baltimore’s Johns Hopkins Hospital and Health System established its initial frontline workforce initiative, Project REACH (Resources and Education for the Advancement of Careers at Hopkins), with U.S. Department of Labor grant funds. The program was an 18-month incumbent worker acceleration grant designed to develop employees’ skills to fill vacant. Over time, Project REACH has become a part of the organization’s strategic plan, is sustained by 100% institutional support from JHHS, and now includes five workforce development initiatives.
Integrate with Business Operations
Full integration of workforce development into business operations ensures sustainability and signals commitment to providing accessible career advancement opportunities for frontline staff. Education and learning are part of the overall strategic plan for Norton Healthcare in Louisville. Norton uses 100 percent operational dollars to fund the over $9 million spent annually on workforce development initiatives and maintains a learning culture anchored by a career development model that incorporates virtually every best practice mentioned in the CareerSTAT Guide.
Form Industry Partners with Other Employers
Health care workforce partnerships are dynamic collaborations of regional employers who convene regularly with the assistance of a workforce intermediary to discuss shared human resources issues, exchange labor market information, and take specific actions to address workforce challenges. Baltimore Alliance for Careers in Healthcare (BACH) works with health care providers, educational institutions, and local agencies to prepare residents of Baltimore with the skills and education needed to address the critical shortage of qualified health care workers in the region.
Leverage Partner Expertise and Resources
Employers do not need to develop and maintain expertise in all aspects of workforce development to effectively support their frontline workers. Drawing on the strengths of partner organizations is an effective use of resources and demonstrates collaboration and a desire for collective impact. Boston’s Healthcare Training Institute worked with health care employers clustered in Boston’s Longwood Medical Area—including Boston Children’s Hospital and Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center—to develop an effective strategy for creating cohorts of learners across institutions and offering varying levels of English for Speakers of Other Languages classes. With support from the mayor’s office and SkillWorks Boston, HTI opened two community classrooms, giving employees from three area hospitals access to four levels of ESOL classes in a location convenient to the workplace.