Dedicated Career Pathways and Holistic Benefits Inspire Employee Loyalty and Satisfaction

Leaders foster retention through programs that help caregivers thrive

Smiling scientists in discussion while filling out paperwork in research lab

When Rachell Bishop began a temporary position as an administrative secretary at Cleveland Clinic, she wasn’t planning on turning it into a career. A recent Ohio “transplant,” Bishop thought the job might meet her needs for a few years while she was in the area tending to family members, but longevity wasn’t on her mind.

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Nearly 17 years and several promotions later, Bishop has indeed developed a career within the healthcare system. Now a program manager in the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Global Leadership and Learning Institute, she has continued to advance across multiple branches of the organization and – with Cleveland Clinic’s Tuition Reimbursement Program – has earned a master’s degree in business administration.

“Having the opportunity to move up and work in three or four different spaces within the organization has really changed the course of my professional life,” says Bishop. “Cleveland Clinic has been very, very good to me.”

This is the kind of story that many healthcare organizations hope to emulate, as retention of both clinical and nonclinical staff continues to be a challenge in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

As a caregiver in the Mandel Global Leadership and Learning Institute, Bishop helps support and nurture the organization’s leaders with the goal of encouraging their career longevity. Offering pathways that nurture professional growth, providing benefits that address caregiver needs, and fostering a culture of learning are key pillars of Cleveland Clinic’s employee-retention strategy, says Bishop and fellow program manager Lindsey White.

“We are keenly focused on our caregivers’ experience, which means doing everything we can to put them in the driver’s seat,” explains White, who began her Cleveland Clinic career almost 17 years ago as a patient care nursing assistant. “The current employment culture allows jobseekers to be highly selective when it comes to choosing – and remaining in – a workplace, so they’re asking, ‘What does this organization offer me? Can it provide me with a sense of purpose and belonging? What are the benefits of working there? How could I thrive there?’”

Internal career paths

Career pathways can give caregivers an opportunity to start in an entry-level position and grow into different roles within the organization, White says. For some, that may entail advancing into a leadership or management position. But for those who aren’t looking to move up the career ladder, growth may come in the form of continuing education and the opportunity to advance their skills within an existing role.

“Our goal is to ensure that our employees can always find a place to move within the organization,” says White. “By providing the right opportunities, we can encourage our caregivers to stay, even if they’ve outgrown or have plateaued in their current role.”

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That experience feels familiar to Bishop, who started her Cleveland Clinic career in the Philanthropy Institute and later accepted a role in Supply Chain, where she had a chance to work with physicians and caregivers throughout the health system, including in locations such as Abu Dhabi and London.

“I’ve never had a manager try to hold me back; in fact, it has been quite the opposite,” she says. “As employees move forward in their journey, Cleveland Clinic leaders come alongside them to ensure that they can be successful in those endeavors.”

White explains that administrators are encouraged to recognize – and celebrate – “peak moments” to make these positive experiences more memorable.

“We think it’s important to elevate success,” she says. “[Bestselling author] Dan Heath writes, ‘Great service experiences are mostly forgettable and occasionally remarkable.’ But we know that we can make these positive, instructive moments more powerful by instilling pride in our caregivers and helping them discover new ways to learn and connect with their peers.”

Benefits for the whole person

Offering benefits that support the holistic well-being of their employees is another way healthcare organizations can support caregiver retention, Bishop notes. At Cleveland Clinic, benefits consist of wellness initiatives, including an employee assistance program that covers up to 12 counseling sessions per year. Caregivers can also enroll in programs that address specific health conditions, including asthma, obesity and diabetes, in which they can be matched with a care coordinator to help them manage their health.

Benefits address employees’ financial wellness through retirement planning, childcare discounts and tuition reimbursement, which enabled Bishop to earn her MBA. Caregivers are also encouraged to explore the healthcare system’s various Employee Resource Groups, which provide access to educational opportunities and allow them to connect with peers who share their interests, White explains.

“Our employees are able to take advantage of a plethora of different programs and benefits that reinforce the fact that the organization sees them as whole people,” she adds.

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Culture of learning

Bishop emphasizes that Cleveland Clinic further supports caregiver retention by fostering a larger culture of learning across the organization. That starts from the top down, she says, and depends largely on the ability of leaders to empower and connect with their teams.

Designed to promote ongoing education and leadership, Cleveland Clinic’s Mentoring Resource Center has become a particularly valuable source of professional information and support, explains White. The program, which has seen a 60% increase in participation since 2021, provides caregivers with the opportunity to learn more about a specific topic, skill set or best practice by developing peer-to-peer connections.

“Our leaders are explicit about wanting caregivers to grow throughout their careers, and they regularly engage with their employees about their needs and goals,” she says.

White adds, “Professional growth is a mindset. It’s a shared responsibility – a commitment between the organization, the leadership and the employee to work together as that journey unfolds.”

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