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2021 Northwest Health

Cindy Ruffing

Pictured is Cindy Ruffing, SPHR, SHRM-SCP, NWHealth Director of HR.

Arkansas SHRM is pleased to announce Northwest Health with several locations in Northwest Arkansas is the 2021 ARSHRM Best Practice Award. This award and recognition are not given every year, but this year we have an example every organization can look to as a Best Practice in unprecedented times.

The COVID-19 pandemic affected few industries as much as it did health care. Northwest Health reacted with innovative solutions, not only to both patient care, but with employee communication, engagement, wellness, retention and recruitment.

COVID 19 challenged the speed of communication across many industries. At times, critical information was being delivered multiple times in a day! COVID-19 Updates were sent daily or as-needed via email. Conference calls were held daily for leaders and Town Halls were held to ensure all employees had the necessary information to provide safe, quality care to their patients and for themselves.

In response to a surge of patients needing care, multiple recruiting strategies were utilized to retain and acquire employees in high demand roles. During the COVID-19 surge, an incentive staffing agreement was created to financially incentivize current PRN staff and newly hired PRN staff. The result allowed the hospitals to quickly increase their Full-Time available staff – many of whom were already trained and orientated to the departments.

A quick re-vamp of their employee referral program included increased referral dollars for high demand positions, a transition to Google forms for ease of participation and a QR code on all communication materials for immediate access to capture referrals.

As the entire region was competing for talent, it was critical to maintain their employees and attract qualified applicants. A market compensation analysis was conducted and implemented on 23 positions. The new wage structure allowed Northwest Health to remain extremely competitive in the region to attract new hires.

On top of all that, they supported their staff teams in this unprecedented time with an EAP, provided Courage & Compassion Silicone bracelets, dedicated resources to ensure monthly recognition and/or engagement activities. Staff regularly receive meals, snacks, and other recognition items to show their appreciation.

When the state government created an opportunity for health care workers to receive additional compensation, Northwest Health applied for funds on behalf of their employees and administered the funds through their payroll processes.

How appropriate during these times that we recognize a health care facility in which HR led the way to address the needs of its employees, the organization, and the community to keep taking care of patients during a covid pandemic.

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