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Service. Service. Service.
That's what Lisa Ponton, MSW, JD, hears each day from her team three months into her tenure as vice president of the hospital's Human Resources Department.
"Everyone in HR needs to be customer service focused, and the hospital employees and leadership team are our customers," said Ponton, who joined BWH in November, during her 90-day review with BWH Bulletin this week.
Ponton detailed the three-fold function of HR as attracting and recruiting employees, developing and retaining employees and making departures as smooth as possible. BWH must work to recruit the best applicants for all positions, HR must play a role in selecting the best available candidates and the hospital has to be welcoming to new employees and provide them the opportunity to advance their careers.
Recruiting, training and developing staff for the Carl J. and Ruth Shapiro Cardiovascular Center, which opens in 2008, is well underway, Ponton said. "Every health care facility in the region is vying for the same talent, and we need to make sure BWH remains the place to be," she said.
Stemming turnover in support areas and providing advancement opportunities for entry-level staff will play a key role in staffing the Shapiro Center. "We need to recruit people from the community and advance people who are already here," she said. Beverley Sobers, HR manager of Workforce Development, and Wanda McClain, administrative director in President Gary Gottlieb's Office, are heading up these efforts.
Ponton also has shifted top leadership at HR. In addition to John Lew's duties as director of recruitment, he is the dedicated point person for the Biomedical Research Institute. "The BRI is one of our largest and most important areas dedicated to our mission, and outside research funding is becoming more and more competitive," she said.
Ponton wants her recruiters and HR representatives to better understand the organization and the daily operations of the units they support and to play a more active role in screening and interviewing applicants. "Recruiters for the OR need to know what the OR is like," she said.
Carrying out the hospital's commitment to a diverse workforce that reflects the community around BWH also is a priority for Ponton. "For instance, if the greater Boston community is approximately 35 percent minority, but BWH's workforce is about 18 percent minority, then we need to focus on identifying ways to fill in the gap for our underutilized area," Ponton said.
"Gary (Gottlieb) clearly has a vision to close that gap, and I have the will to get it done," she added. "We need to increase minority applications, get them hired and provide them the opportunity to move up in the ranks."
And once new employees are in the door, Ponton plans for HR to maintain contact with both the new employee and his or her manager and implement a mechanism for orientation classmates to remain in touch with one another. "We need more retention interviews as opposed to exit interviews," she said. "Did your department make you feel welcome? Was orientation effective? Is there anything you know now you wished you knew on day one? Are we delivering on the promises we made you?"
She added, "We need to check in with our people and make the Brigham feel more like a family."
Ponton plans to empower managers in various departments with standards and guidelines to make their employees more accountable. "We should not tolerate poor performance and make that part of our BWH culture," she said.
Overall, Ponton said she is even more excited about her role at the Brigham after being here for three months. "I am excited about our HR department. We have a great team, and there's a tremendous amount of talent throughout the hospital. Clearly, we are the Brigham, there is excellence in everything we do and it's a privilege to work here."