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A Customized Work-Study Program Helps Healthcare Provider Stabilize Maintenance Operations

The Challenge

Our client is a prominent West Coast healthcare provider. In late 2022, our client was struggling to hire and retain a sufficient maintenance operations team. Our client was leveraging their internal human resources department to source and interview potential new hires for their maintenance team. However, worker attrition was outpacing hiring and many of the hires had basic mechanical skills but would eventually abandon the role due to a lack of competency or they failed to fit into the company’s culture. 

Not having a fully staffed maintenance team had several consequences which could have impacted the client’s bottom line. The longer our client’s maintenance operations team remained understaffed the more work it put on the existing team. It also threatened to extend the downtime of equipment vital to hospital operations. They were at risk of losing their reputation as a premier healthcare provider in the area, which could lower their rating and eventually lower the number of patients they received. 

Our client reviewed their internal processes and decided their HR team may not be the best option for finding candidates with the right type of worker for their maintenance team. 

 
 
 

Aerotek's Solution

After determining their existing processes weren’t adequate for sourcing new hires for their maintenance operations team, the client reached out to Aerotek. They had previously partnered with Aerotek for strictly staffing purposes on previous projects. Now they needed a partner that could provide consultation to help guide them through restructuring their hiring practices.

Our client was open to new ideas to completely rebuilding their hiring process for their maintenance operations team. Aerotek completed a thorough audit of our client’s hiring process, the structure of their maintenance team and company culture. Specifically, Aerotek worked with the client’s maintenance shop leads or “Aces” to better understand the demands of the job and the hard and soft skills needed for someone to be successful on their teams. 

The shop leads were each asked to create a job plan of the tasks a new hire would be expected to learn within a year. After reviewing these plans, Aerotek worked with the client to create a work-study program where candidates would work at their hospital for six months. In that time, the candidate would learn how to complete the functions of the job based on the information provided by the shop leads. Every few weeks, these workers would work with a new shop lead responsible for a different aspect of facilities maintenance. 

This work-study program resembled “journeyman” programs offered in the skilled trades. Those who participated had the opportunity to gain valuable maintenance skills even if they did not complete the program or if they were ultimately not right for the position. 

To ensure candidate quality, we utilized the “Harvey Ball” method to track each worker’s progress. This method provides a visual representation of a worker’s ability to complete a task. Workers must meet specific requirements to fill in a portion of their “Harvey Ball” which is represented as circle. As the candidate progresses through the program, their empty Harvey Ball is partially filled to denote proficiency in a duty. Once their ball is filled completely, they are prepared to complete the task independently. Once the program was completed, the shop leads would be required to give their approval of the candidate and state they felt comfortable with the individual completing the without supervision.

Results

Our client agreed to start the work-study program in 2023. The client made it clear that there would be no guaranteed job offer for any worker going through the program. Anyone offered full-time employment would need to achieve the metrics set by the shop leads and be seen as a good cultural fit.  

Over the course of 2023, Aerotek provided 23 work-study participants and ultimately two completed the program. They were both hired as full-time employees for our client and are still currently working for our client. 

The success of Aerotek’s first work-study program has led the client to continuing the program to stabilize their maintenance team. The partnership between the client and Aerotek has matured to the level where the client requested for an Aerotek representative to work onsite to help manage those workers currently in the program. The client is also working to duplicate the program for their other departments that have struggled to attract and retain workers.

By altering the client’s hiring process to be more immersive and engaging, Aerotek changed the client’s process and culture. They no longer rely on their HR department to interview candidates for their maintenance operations team. They now have a more effective and efficient method of accessing talent and integrating them into their teams in a way that improves engagement and retention.