Welcome to the Advancing Surgical Care Podcast brought to you by ASCA, the Ambulatory Surgery Center Association. ASCA represents the interests of outpatient surgery centers of every specialty and provides advocacy and resources to assist them in providing safe, high-quality, cost-effective patient care. As with all of ASCA’s communications, please check to make sure you are listening to or viewing our most up-to-date podcasts and announcements.
Bill Prentice: 0:27
Hello, and welcome to the Advancing Surgical Care Podcast. I’m Bill Prentice, ASCA’s CEO and the host of this episode. My guest today is Vicki Heinz, vice president for talent management at SCA Health. Vicki has more than 20 years of experience in human resources, with a focus on talent management, acquisition and compensation. In a previous role, Vicki was responsible for creating corporate strategies to improve the company’s diversity, equity and inclusion, or DEI. In that capacity she formulated a DEI council as well as multiple employee resource groups, ultimately achieving national awards for supporting active military, veterans and LGBTQ+ employees. ASCA has invited Vicki to speak at ASCA’s annual meeting this year on the topic of building and sustaining a culture of inclusion. And she joins me here today in Louisville, during a break from our sessions and exhibits, to share her experience and thoughts with our podcast listeners. Vicki, thanks for taking the time to talk with me today and thank you for being a presenter at our annual meeting here in Louisville. Your presentation on creating a culture of belonging in your ASC could not be timelier with staffing and staff retention being so critically important to ASCs today. I think it might be helpful for our listeners for you to tell us what a culture of belonging means to you.
Vicki Heinz: 1:47
Thank you for having me. A culture of belonging is a culture where every teammate is seen, valued and heard. And I believe it’s an intentional action to engage with each teammate to understand what they value, what experience and skills they have, and how they can contribute and collaborate. It’s a one-on-one discussion with each teammate and making them feel really welcome in our facilities.
Bill Prentice: 2:14
Well, that sounds really important, and I’m really interested to hear more about that. So, in your presentation, you make the case that creating a culture of belonging is not only about being altruistic, but that it’s also critical to the success of a business. In your presentation, you go into a lot of detail about how the culture of belonging directly impacts the bottom line. Could you speak to some of the ways that culture impacts performance?
Vicki Heinz: 2:38
Yes. There’s been a lot of research in the last 10 years, I would say, on the impact of belonging, inclusion and diversity in the workplace, and specifically how it impacts culture and performance. Working in an organization where diversity, inclusion and belonging is valued, is proven to make people want to work harder, stay longer and be strong team players. It improves discretionary effort and intent to stay. In addition, focusing on diversity in particular helps design systems and patient experience across a wide group of people and a broader range of clinical outcomes.
Bill Prentice: 3:16
That’s very impressive. Vicki, we need to take a short pause to hear a brief message from our podcast sponsor. I’m going to ask for our listeners to stand by and we’ll be right back.
This episode of the Advancing Surgical Care Podcast is brought to you by AMSURG, a national leader in the strategic and operational management of ambulatory surgery centers. AMSURG partners with more than 2,000 physicians and health systems and more than 250 ASCs operating in 34 states. Learn more by visiting amsurg.com.
Bill Prentice: 3:45
Vicki, another aspect of your presentation that I thought was really timely was your discussion about the resistance that you can encounter when trying to affect change and create a culture of belonging. What I found really helpful was your advice to basically anticipate resistance, and welcome different viewpoints as part of the process of fostering a culture of belonging. I know there’s a lot of strong personalities in the ASC space, so I can imagine how important that is. Can you talk a little bit about how a leader or an organization can overcome resistance?
Vicki Heinz: 4:16
Resistance can take a lot of different forms. It can look like hostility, it can look like a reduction in effort by teammates, it can be passive. And when you encounter resistance, I think it’s important to understand the symptoms, as well as what is the true nature? Where is it coming from? And maybe it’s because people don’t understand the rationale, or they don’t know how the change will be implemented. Perhaps they feel a threat to their role or status in the organization. And it’s important to connect with the individuals or groups that are displaying resistance and understand their concerns so leaders can take concrete steps to engage sponsors, tailor communications or modify the role, so that ultimately change can be successful.
Bill Prentice: 5:04
And I imagine in a time where there’s so much stress around the area of employment, keeping staff and employing new staff, that’s got to be a really high priority.
Vicki Heinz: 5:16
Yes. I think it’s imperative that we make the necessary changes in order to recruit, engage and retain our teammates.
Bill Prentice: 5:24
And in your presentation, you also talked about the need for organizations to solicit candid feedback from employees and develop measurements to assess progress over time. Talk to me about the importance of collecting that data and using it continuously to evaluate and improve an organization’s culture.
Vicki Heinz: 5:43
I think there’s a temptation to think that we know about employee experience, but often we don’t. And that is where data comes in. There has been a shift in the last 10 to 15 years towards continuous listening in the form of employee experience, surveys, focus groups and even interviews with individuals and groups. The data gathered is very helpful to understanding employee sentiment, but also being able to narrow that data down to tenure or location, gender, age, even race, and understand specifically what is impacting different groups. And I would say using a balance of quantitative and qualitative data will give you a really good sense of what’s going on in your facilities.
Bill Prentice: 6:25
And you talk about continuously. So, how often would you recommend an organization do that data mining and that evaluation?
Vicki Heinz: 6:33
Yes, I think that with employee experience, survey, data—in my experience, no more than two times a year. If you’re going through a significant change, then I would recommend making sure that you’re checking in with your teammates through interviews, focus groups or pulse surveys with maybe two to three questions on how it’s going, and what can be improved, and, importantly, how people want to receive communication.
Bill Prentice: 7:06
One of the points you make in your presentation is that the culture of an organization is also an important consideration for prospective employees. In fact, you cite one poll that found 80 percent of people in the workforce today said that they thought it was important for an organization to have a culture of belonging. Can you talk about how these issues have become more important for prospective employees over time, and particularly for younger people who are entering the workforce.
Vicki Heinz: 7:33
In this labor market, candidates are certainly calling the shots in terms of what companies they want to work for, the type of culture they expect and even the role they want to play. In a 2021 survey by Bersin by Deloitte, it showed that diversity, inclusion and belonging had a strong impact on employee experience, more than pay, benefits and even jobs, that if we don’t focus on diversity, inclusion and belonging, we’ll lose the best talent to organizations that do.
Bill Prentice: 8:03
That’s really interesting. So, give me your elevator pitch. If you were talking to, let us say, an older leader of an organization who may not be quite as attuned to this topic, how do you convince him or her that this is something that is worth the effort to instill in the organization?
Vicki Heinz: 8:24
The challenges that we face in healthcare require more diversity in our workforce in order for us to meet the needs of our patients and support our teammates. Our teammates expect to be included, and they expect to be engaged as part of their employee value proposition. And we as employers need to pay particular attention to what we’re doing to fulfill that promise. Candidates are expecting companies to take a position on diversity, equity and inclusion. They want to know where their employers stand, what they value and how they can engage in their interests. And companies that don’t take a position or don’t have programs for them to engage in will likely recruit talent that will leave, and they will probably see higher turnover in the future.
Bill Prentice: 9:17
That’s fascinating. And I think the elevator has reached the ground floor. So, Vicki, if one of our listeners wanted to start down this road on this process of creating this culture of belonging, where would they start?
Vicki Heinz: 9:30
There are a few things that I would start with. One is the proper sponsorship. You really need a sponsor in leadership who can help you acquire resources, build support for the change you’re trying to create and help educate the organization about why it’s important. The profile of someone who’s an effective sponsor often looks like someone who has high confidence and trust from teammates, is an effective communicator and can influence. The second thing I would say is get really clear on your mission and priorities of the initiative. What are you trying to do? Why? And how are you thinking about going about engaging people in the change? The third thing I would recommend is really clear governance on how you’re going to set up, be it a council or an employee resource group. What are the requirements for membership? Are you going to have an election process or a nomination process? What are the expectations of members once they’re involved in part of the council? And what to do if you need to dissolve the group at some point? So, really straightforward governance. And the last thing I would say is, if you are big enough to have multiple employee resource groups, I would strongly suggest putting in a steering committee that helps connect all of the efforts of those groups to aligning their mission to fostering a workplace of culture and inclusion. And then measure. Measure what you’re doing, check in often and determine: Is it making a difference? Is it achieving the goals?
Bill Prentice: 11:13
That sounds like a great roadmap for a listener who wants to get started in this, so thank you for that. Vicki, I want to thank you again for participating in ASCA 2023 here in Louisville. And thank you for taking some time to talk with me today.
Vicki Heinz: 11:26
My pleasure. Thank you.
Bill Prentice: 11:27
So before concluding, I would once again like to thank our podcast sponsor AMSURG, a leading ASC management company with more than 250 ASC partners in 34 states. To learn more, visit amsurg.com.