Companies Hiring, Executive Feature

More Than Medicine: How St. Jude Has Become a Career Destination for Employees From All Fields

When you think of hospital employees, It’s only natural to picture doctors and nurses. But as healthcare organizations continue to grow — the BLS expects the industry to add 2.4 million new jobs between 2016 and 2026 — they need top talent from all fields to help them innovate and scale their operations. This is something that Dana Bottenfield, VP of Human Resources at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, makes abundantly clear.

“St. Jude is a great place to start/grow/expand your career. We foster a collaborative, positive environment with exceptional resources. These all contribute to employee success across a wide range of hospital careers: research, patient care or business and operations,” Bottenfield says.

And regardless of department or function, St. Jude offers employees the chance to support an unbeatable mission: “to advance cures, and means of prevention, for pediatric catastrophic diseases through research and treatment.” It’s in no small part due to this mission that St. Jude beat out hundreds of thousands of employers on Glassdoor to be named one of the Best Places to Work in 2019.

To learn more about what makes St. Jude a great place to work, the innovations the organization is embracing and what they look for in candidates, we chatted with St. Jude VP of Human Resources Dana Bottenfield — here’s what she had to say.

Glassdoor: Congratulations on the win! What does it mean to have your employees honor St. Jude as a 2019 Best Place to Work?

Dana Bottenfield: It’s always an honor to receive recognition for our workplace and culture, but it means even more when it is from our employees. Every member of our institution is deeply committed to the mission of St. Jude. They are the reason we are able to embrace the challenge to create a new tomorrow.

Glassdoor: What are two or three steps St. Jude has taken within the last year to double down on company culture, employee engagement and employee feedback that may have led to this win?

Dana Bottenfield: Our efforts in 2017 were centered on further connecting employees to St. Jude, to one another and to our larger community.

We continue to grow the St. Jude Leadership Academy, a program designed to develop management skills of those who lead teams and departments. We recently expanded its original programs and broadened its audience by reaching mid-level managers and supervisors. This allows more managers the space to strengthen their leadership skills while building relationships with, and gaining insights from, others leaders across our institution.

Our performance management process also received a complete redesign this year. Based on employee feedback, our new process allows for more frequent check-ins with managers, facilitates goal alignment that better connects the work of our employees to our institutional priorities and provides an objective and fair review of performance.

We also strategically program opportunities to connect employees to our community. Building passion for our city, and stronger personal connections across our campus, strengthens employee engagement and aids retention for our talented workforce. We seek out unique activities such as Memphis 101, city tours, dinner groups, discounts to professional sporting events, theatre groups, intramural programs and so much more. All of these programs encourage employees to embrace our city and to connect with each other around common interests.

Glassdoor: This award speaks volumes about the company, but also signals to job seekers that this is an amazing place to work. Why should job seekers apply for an open role at St. Jude? What are two to three benefits, practices or traditions that are unique to St. Jude?

Dana Bottenfield: It is an amazing time to be a part of St. Jude. With research expansion and our new commitment in Global Pediatric Medicine, there is a bright future ahead. This creates a tremendous opportunity for job seekers.

Our strategic plan is aggressive. It allows us to collaborate with other institutions and organizations to make a difference in the lives of our patients and their families. As a result of tremendous donor support, we are able to provide a stable work experience with competitive benefits — backed by the training, resources and data needed to deliver on this plan.

St. Jude is a great place to start/grow/expand your career. We foster a collaborative, positive environment with exceptional resources. These all contribute to employee success across a wide range of hospital careers: research, patient care or business and operations.

Glassdoor: What roles are hiring priorities for St. Jude? What types of innovation are you investing in within that specific department?

Dana Bottenfield: As we continue to grow, St. Jude has specific hiring priorities in our research and clinical areas. These include: Genetic Counselors, Bioinformatics, Structural Biology, Clinical Research Informatics, Staff Scientist and Research Technologist. We continue to invest in the technology needed to support these roles.

Glassdoor: Glassdoor is all about transparency and helping people everywhere find a job and company they love. What insights can you share about the interview process at St. Jude? What types of questions do you ask? What types of soft skills do you look for?

Dana Bottenfield: We are fortunate to have a tremendous level of support for our institution. Often, someone is a part of St. Jude as a donor or a volunteer long before they’ve applied for a position with us. We are always excited to meet talented candidates who believe in our mission and feel connected to our institution.

Our selection process zeroes in on a candidate’s knowledge, skills and ability. Then we expand the lens to uncover if the candidate connects to our mission and values. Both of these are necessary to get the right candidate in the right role. And, to ensure the candidate thrives once employed.

We look for individuals who will take ownership of their work. A strong candidate will have a sense of urgency and embrace change. We seek out individuals who can work collaboratively to help others succeed, and demonstrate respect to their coworkers, our patients and families. We look for individuals who demonstrate empathy and compassion balanced with strong leadership skills.

Glassdoor: How do you screen candidates to ensure that they will be engaged and thrive within your culture?

Dana Bottenfield: We start off with a phone screen and progress to phone and video interviews to ensure fit prior to bringing successful candidates on-site for interviews. When a candidate comes on-site, we include a comprehensive tour of campus. This allows candidates the opportunity to see our resources, ask questions and witness our mission in action. All stages of selection focus on understanding how well a candidate aligns to our culture. We are also testing realistic job previews to help candidates better understand what it’s like to work for St. Jude.

Glassdoor: How are you using Glassdoor to attract the types of candidates you’re looking for?

Dana Bottenfield: We want candidates to understand daily life at St. Jude. This helps reduce any surprises after their first day on the job. Glassdoor is a great place for candidates to get a realistic understanding of what it is like to work at St. Jude. We encourage our employees to share their perspectives about our work culture and benefits that St. Jude provides to its growing team. We also encourage candidates to visit Glassdoor for information on the interview experience, our benefits, as well as read our employee’s feedback on what’s working and where we have opportunities.

Glassdoor: What keeps you at St. Jude for the long haul, and what advice would you give to companies focused on retention?

Dana Bottenfield: I love working for St. Jude. In fact, I just celebrated my twenty-first anniversary! I’ve found exceptional personal and professional growth, all within an organization that has a mission I feel a deep connection to and respect. When I look at what the future holds for St. Jude, I’m excited to be a part of our growth and discovery.

For organizations focused on retention, I can only share what we’ve learned over time. Involve your employees in the success of your organization. Help them connect their role to the goals of your organization. Listen to their feedback so you can understand what they need to perform their job at the top of their abilities. Invest in training for your leaders. Provide challenging work. Celebrate success. And, if a challenge doesn’t succeed, support them as they learn from the experience.

Glassdoor: Besides celebrating your 2019 Best Places to Work win, what’s next for St. Jude?

Dana Bottenfield: We continue to grow! The construction cranes are in constant motion at our new research facility. St. Jude also continues to expand its reach worldwide through our Global Pediatric Medicine initiative and cancer research available through the St. Jude Cloud. Our internal programs continue to focus on our employees: finding the right talent and then engaging them to deliver their best work. Recruitment and retention are critical to our success and growth.

Glassdoor: Looking ahead to 2019, what are 2 or 3 trends you’re seeing in the healthcare that job seekers need to understand or be aware of as it pertains to innovation? How can job seekers get prepared for the future of work in healthcare?

Dana Bottenfield: Healthcare continues to innovate through discovery and patient care. The supply and demand curve favors those looking for jobs in the industry. Healthcare jobs continue to be extremely competitive.

Healthcare models are also tapping into the collaboration aspect of care. Successful job seekers need to have a balance of strong subject matter expertise with a focus on getting results through teamwork. An ability to thrive on change and embrace their role as a change agent will also serve candidates well.

But, at the end of the day, healthcare candidates must be able to stay connected to the human side of research and patient care. Approaching patients with care and compassion are traits that technology can never replace.

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