To Retain Talent, Embrace A Pivot

When it comes to tackling talent shortages and retention, Tina Krebs, chief people officer at Relias, sees the challenges as an opportunity for positive change.

How does an employer combat the challenge of workforce shortages and retention of key talent? By continuously upskilling and reskilling valued employees, and actively driving an inclusive culture.

So says Tina Krebs, chief people officer at Relias, a company based in Morrisville, North Carolina, that provides workforce education and enablement solutions for the healthcare industry. Krebs explains how she and her team are approaching these critical workforce issues.

How has the staffing shortage across healthcare technology companies impacted training? What are the current issues?

Technology companies have been experiencing a shortage in technical talent for the last two to three years, especially in the cloud engineering, data science and cybersecurity fields. Recognizing this was becoming an issue, our company began to focus on upskilling and reskilling our current talent.

This meant new competencies had to be defined for roles, individuals needed to be reassessed against the revised competencies, and training plans put in place to ensure staff were developing these new competencies. This has been a large effort for our L&D organization over the last two years.

What are the top ways to attract new talent? How do these incentives differ across ages and generations?

As a healthcare technology company, our mission is to measurably improve the lives of the most vulnerable and those that care for them—and this mission speaks to a lot of our applicants. The new generations as well as older generations in our new hire classes mention how much they wanted to work for an organization that aligns with their inner purpose, or just in general wanting to work for an organization that is making a difference. We do this with our products every day.

So, while we have terrific benefits and policies that support an employee and their families’ overall well-being, I believe that having a mission that aligns with an individual’s purpose and knowing how their individual job helps us achieve this goal is an attraction in the market.

What are the best methods to retain current employees?

There are a few things that I believe are table stakes—competitive pay, a strong benefits package and having some sort of opportunity to move up in the company. 

However, the elements that drive retention for us are ensuring an inclusive work environment, providing strong development options that lead to increasing opportunity within the business every few years, supporting a flexible, hybrid work environment, providing innovative opportunities for technical talent—and really enjoying who you work with.

Can you elaborate on some of Relias’ DEI initiatives?

While DEI has been a focus for Relias since 2017, it’s only been in the last few years that we decided to flip our approach to be more discussion-based. The typical approach of just assigning annual training and covering concepts in managerial training just wasn’t cutting it in helping us establish an environment of inclusion where people felt like they could speak up or be their authentic selves.

So, we revamped our construct to provide learning opportunities via multiple modalities including online learning combined with small group discussions on topics like confronting bias and microaggressions, podcasts on relevant topics like microinequities and book clubs covering different aspects of diversity, such as accessibility, introversion, race issues.

We also encourage conversations sponsored by our employer resource groups, as well as provide the opportunity for employees to select what type of intensive coursework they would like to complete that is combined with small group discussion. One such course we offer is called “21 Days of Equity,” focusing on racial disparity in the U.S.

All these discussion-based activities have driven an increase in the number of ERGs at Relias in the last year, as well as resulted in more issues being raised to HR when people have concerns and a stronger awareness at the leadership levels of what we should be focused on to drive an inclusive culture.

How does Relias facilitate a healthy company culture?

There are multiple ways we’ve maintained culture during and since the pandemic as we’ve stood up a hybrid work environment. Actively recognizing individuals who display our values in day-to-day operations, training new hires on the cornerstones of our culture, while ensuring our managers provide an inclusive, collaborative, exciting, yet supportive environment ensures that we continue to cultivate an environment of collaboration, respect and innovation.

In addition, our leadership team has focused on improving communications across the business, ensuring we are listening to employee needs and adapting our messaging, as needed, while also increasing knowledge of the business and the “why” behind certain decisions.

We are also focused on leveraging onsite interactions to strengthen relationships at Relias—these are what sustained us when we all went to our home offices in March 2020 and what is the glue behind the supportive culture we have today.

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