Building a Strong Employer Brand

Building a Strong Employer Brand

A children’s hospital developed an employee value proposition to better position itself in the marketplace and enhance employee experience.

There was a time when an institution like Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago didn’t need to introduce itself to potential employees—its reputation of more than 140 years of excellent care in the community spoke for itself. But times have changed.

“As we looked at a labor market that was continuing to be more competitive, we saw challenges from a pay perspective and also in retaining talent,” says Audrey Williams-Lee, senior vice president and chief people officer at Lurie Children’s. “We realized there was an opportunity to articulate what was special about Lurie Children's.”

The hospital seized upon that opportunity to not only promote the benefits of joining the Lurie Children’s team but to also redefine its culture. The result: the creation of an employee value proposition (EVP).

Understanding "employer attractiveness"

Lurie Children’s partnered with an outside firm specializing in employer branding to build their EVP. It began with a rigorous research process to better understand how the hospital is perceived externally and what attributes are most important to those already working at Lurie Children’s. The data collection entailed interviews and focus groups with senior leaders, more than a thousand employees and hundreds of external professionals in the spring of 2022. It focused on four primary areas of “employer attractiveness”:

  • Reputation. How Lurie Children’s is viewed in the community—including quality of health care, innovation, social responsibility and ethical standards.
  • Compensation. In addition to pay and benefits, advancement and leadership opportunities are among the criteria considered.
  • Culture. Includes the hospital’s work environment and the organization’s commitment to equity and work-life balance.
  • Work. What is it like to work there? This encompasses job-related characteristics such as challenging work, varied job assignments, training and development and the focus on patients.

“We found that data piece was really important to make sure we were grounding our work in the right areas,” Williams-Lee says.

Three foundational principles

As Williams-Lee and her team reviewed the research and set upon building their EVP’s framework, the data led them toward a familiar concept that would ultimately serve as the project’s cultural theme.

“Even before we started on to work on our EVP, ‘The Power of All’ was already in our lexicon,” Williams-Lee says. “It was already how we talked about what this place could bring—so we asked, ‘How do we define that?’”

In the hospital’s EVP, it defines the “Power of All” culture as one where team members “lead with integrity, champion equity and commit to constant discovery” to impact the lives of its patients and their families. It’s one of three pillars supporting the EVP’s core proposition, “A Career at the Heart of Care.” The other supporting concepts are:

  • Care. Lurie Children’s strives to promote a culture of care where its support of the team enables them to best provide care for the hospital’s patients.
  • Advancement. Focuses on investing in employees to empower them to be their best by providing every opportunity to lead, including knowledge, experience and skills to help them grow.

EVP aims must be within reach

Lurie Children’s is now working to activate its EVP across the organization. This involves infusing the concepts into the day-to-day work and the overall employee experience. To accomplish this, Williams-Lee and her team are developing behavioral statements in support of the three core principles to identify how they look in practice and to be able to quantify their applications.

 Additionally, activation involves a broad messaging strategy that consistently conveys the platform at every point along an employee's journey with the hospital. Uniform and consistent communications of an organization’s EVP are vital, according to Williams-Lee. But the message itself must be one that resonates with employees for it to succeed.

“This is really about a promise—an employer brand promise—so it’s important to make sure you can hold to that promise,” Williams-Lee says. “Your EVP has to be attainable and realistic. It should be aspirational and stretch to where you want to be, but it can't be so much of a stretch that people don't recognize your organization.”

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