The National Fund for Workforce Solutions and Career Stat recognized West Michigan’s Mercy Health for their three diversity, education, and upskilling initiatives in a 2017 report. They explain that “striving to meet increased demand for a sizeable and healthy workforce, Mercy Health has made it a strategic priority to grow and diversify regional talent pipelines and develop those who come into the organization.” Mercy Health’s three initiatives have:
- Reduced first-year turnover,
- Reduced time to fill positions,
- Increased the number of non-white hires from 18% to 38% in 2016, and
- Increased overall workforce diversity from 13.4% non-white in 2010 to 20% in 2016.
Evidence Based Selection Process
Mercy Health’s first initiative is their Evidence Based Selection Process (EBSP), which was implemented in 2010. Designed to “complement the skills and experience of talented recruiters and hiring managers with data-driven methods and analysis,” EBSP evaluates candidates’ skills, knowledge, and abilities and narrows the candidate pool through these traits alone. It eliminates unconscious bias by removing markers such as names or appearances from the majority of the selection process.
In designing EBSP, Mercy organized all positions into job families and then identified “occupational and foundational competencies” for each group. Candidates are screened for these competencies, which include both cognitive and character elements, during the interviews and selection processes. Hiring Managers are only presented with top candidates and can be sure that each candidate they interview is highly qualified. This removes the possibility of a Hiring Manager choosing a candidate based on a “gut reaction” or personal impression, which often relates to unconscious bias.
EBSP not only removes bias in hiring, it helps Mercy make the best overall hiring decisions. “In a loose labor market, the EBSP allowed Mercy Health to establish a competitive advantage by hiring the best available talent; but in tighter markets, developing a regional talent pipeline quickly emerged as the only viable, long-term solution.”
Medical Assistant Apprenticeship
In partnership with three community colleges, Mercy Health created a Medical Assistantship Apprenticeship with the goal of reaching populations which have barriers to employment and college education.
For 11 months, apprentices spend two days a week in the classroom and three days working in a physician’s office. This allows them to study while simultaneously gaining experience and earning a paycheck with benefits. The apprenticeship model means that most participants graduate debt-free and ready to start a career.
Program for Certified Health Environmental Service Technicians
A final program for Environmental Service (EVS) Technicians, the Program for Certified Health Environmental Service Technicians (CHEST), was implemented to upskill Mercy Health’s employees. EVS Technicians participate in CHEST by completing online learning modules during paid time either before or after their shifts.
After completing the modules and earning the CHEST credential, EVS Technicians earn a raise and contribute to an increased quality of care and safety for patients, which has been proven through higher cleanliness and related scores.
Aligning with Company and Community Values
All three of these initiatives have contributed to Mercy Health’s recognition as a leader in workforce diversity in West Michigan. Grand Rapids mayor Rosalynn Bliss named the organization’s work in her Racial Equity Initiative, and Mercy Health has found that the projects align with Trinity Health’s values. According to the report, Mercy Health’s leadership is happy with the programs because they help ensure that their staff reflects the diversity of the community.