Workforce challenges continue to be a top concern for children’s hospitals, inspiring creative solutions for staffing shortages. But long before staffing became an acute need, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta launched a unique program for its community that turned out to be a valuable recruitment pipeline.
Ten years ago, Linda Matzigkeit, MBA, chief administrative officer at Children’s, founded the MomForce program to provide stay-at-home parents the tools necessary to reengage their careers. The hospital conducts two sessions each year for up to 20 participants who get to brush up on technology and learn new skills to add to their resumes. At the end of the sessions, participants are ready to enter the job market, with many transitioning to permanent positions with Children’s.
Children’s Hospitals Today talked with Matzigkeit about MomForce, its far-reaching impact and its unlikely beginnings in a tropical jungle.
What was your inspiration for MomForce?
About 11 years ago, I was in Nicaragua on a mission trip. I was mixing cement with another mom who was telling me that her kids were getting older, and she wanted to go back to work. She had been out of the workforce for a long time and didn't know how to reenter. I thought there must be some organization in Atlanta or even nationally that helped moms ramp back up for working, but she said, "No, I've looked."
So, for several hours over the next few days, we crafted the program. We came up with the concept right there in the jungle of Nicaragua. When I came back to Children's Healthcare of Atlanta I said, “I have this great idea,” and MomForce was born.
How does MomForce work?
The goal of the program is to provide skill building for parents who paused their careers to stay home with their kids and have been out of the workforce for at least three years.
We have spring and fall cohorts, which we arranged to line up with the school year. We ask that associates work 20 hours per week for 12 weeks, but we're very flexible with the hours. They get work experience in a non-clinical area like human resources, marketing, finance or information systems and technology. They learn how to use new technology and give presentations, and at the end of the program they do a presentation.
During the 12 weeks, they're allowed to take any of the training programs we offer. We encourage them to network with other areas they might be interested in. They get a one-on-one session with our recruiters to work on their resume and interviewing skills. If they’re interested in working here when their 12-week program ends, our goal is to help them find a job at Children’s, whether in the area where they did their MomForce training or another department.
The part-time and flexible scheduling is key. The program is a toe back in the water. If they have school-aged kids, we want them to be able to drop them off and pick them up. Going straight to full-time is very difficult for many people.
The benefits for MomForce participants are clear. What kind of benefits does the program provide to Children’s?
It's a great recruitment tool for us. We have a lot of hiring needs, and it has been a pipeline for talent.
Over the years, we've had 114 MomForce associates successfully complete the program and about half of them have found permanent positions at Children's. In our most recent cohorts, we converted about 75% to permanent roles here at Children's.
For the hiring manager, it's an opportunity to get to know the MomForce associate before they come on board—think of it as a temp-to-permanent hire. You get a chance to learn about them and they get a chance to learn about the job. It’s an efficient recruitment tool with no risk. With our last few cohorts staying at a 75% clip, the return on investment for us is huge.
What advice would you offer to others looking to build their own MomForce?
The program needs a champion, someone who's passionate about it. They need someone to run the program and be the point person. They also need to gain support from leaders in the organization because other departments are responsible for hosting a MomForce associate, giving them a meaningful assignment, and working with them. We’ve been fortunate because the program has been so popular. For this fall’s cohort, eight new departments that have never hosted a MomForce associate have asked to participate.
It is a paid assignment, so there is also some commitment of financial resources from the organization. But I can tell you the return on investment for this program is exponential.