Better Quality of Life
By Aimee Linke
Vice President, Human Resources
Seventy-two percent of Vital Decisions’ workforce are behavioral health clinicians: counselors, social workers, people trained to care deeply for others. We hire clinicians who are especially skilled at being empathic and compassionate, helpful guides in healthcare decision making and advance care planning. We serve individuals who are navigating complex health issues, some just learning about a diagnosis, some facing serious illness, others considering how they want their goals and values incorporated into their healthcare, now and in the future if their disease progresses toward the end of life.
Helping others navigate vulnerable conversations and think through difficult decisions is a special talent. Our clinicians are very special people. It’s vital that we take good care of our employees, who are taking care of others.
The nature of our work means we have to take special care of those we employ. Providing support for a workforce primarily made up of caregivers and behavioral health clinicians comes with unique nuances that differ from other fields. It’s not enough to just help employees succeed in their roles; caring for employees includes providing a level of support needed to sustain personal and professional stamina.
A third of our employees have had to take time away from work, at some point, because of a personal loss or as the result of being a caregiver. We grant time away well beyond the protected leave period, as we know how critical it is to take time away to care for self and others. Turnover following a leave of absence is minimal and employees are grateful for the flexibility in being able to manage their personal and work lives. We also allow our clinicians to work remotely, again giving them greater flexibility.
The short answer to how we attract and retain our highly valued employees is by listening to what is most important to them. We do this by creating opportunities for feedback, and then incorporating feedback and adapting. As a result, our company truly reflects the values and culture of our people.
We are driven by our mission and grounded by our values; these steer our determination for evolution and growth. Eliciting feedback is vital for the evolution we strive for, and this is grounded in our values of transparency, communication, respect, and collaboration. Because we constantly keep an ear to the ground and an open door policy when it comes to feedback, we’re structured to constantly evolve. With each new hire comes a new story, a new perspective, which has the potential to shift the company as a result.
With change comes its own set of challenges in supporting staff through the transition. During the 5 years I’ve served as the VP, Human Resources, I’ve seen the organization implement numerous strategies to support staff. These strategies help with building stability and trust with our employees and are directly in line with our core values.
1. Forming committees, focus groups and pilot teams
2. Consistent surveys and inviting feedback
3. Structuring policies and frameworks for flexibility and individualized support
4. Acknowledging and building upon shortcomings
5. Understanding the impact of grief and loss on the workforce
6. Facilitating peer-to-peer sharing & storytelling
The work of discussing Advance Care Planning is not light work and comes with its own challenges for supporting those in the field. Employees’ needs stretch beyond the basic Human Resources realm, which is why gleaning feedback, with a focus on evolution is key to supporting the unique needs of a workforce in supporting roles. The work we do is personal; Advance Care Planning conversations permeate through the professional/personal barrier. The goal of Human Resources in this field is to not only bring knowledge of employee rights and benefits, but also compassion and adaptability.
Aimee has over 15 years of experience in Human Resources, 10 of which have been in a leadership role. Holding a Master’s degree in HR Management from Rutgers University and a Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR) certification, Aimee has spent her career in the HR field in a variety of industries including Healthcare, Non-Profit, Manufacturing and Energy. Aimee was hired in 2015 at Vital Decisions as the first Human Resources professional and tasked with building the HR department, practices, processes and programs we have today. Aimee oversees the HR function for the organization, including HR strategic initiatives, DEI efforts, recruitment and retention, compensation and benefits, and employee relations.