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John Muir Health improves employee retention, performance, and well-being

Industry Healthcare
Industry Healthcare

Healing healthcare burnout

Like all healthcare organizations rocked by the pandemic, John Muir Health was struggling with severe employee burnout and high turnover, which can directly impact patient satisfaction. It was critical for the organization to prioritize employee resilience and well-being, so staff could deliver best-in-class care, even in the face of rapid change and ongoing pandemic-related challenges. Now, with the help of BetterUp®, John Muir Health’s employees are reporting stronger well-being, which is mirrored in increases to both retention and performance rates across the workforce. 

  • 62% lower voluntary attrition rate for employees engaged in BetterUp Lead 
  • 46% lower voluntary attrition rate for employees engaged in BetterUp Care™ 
  • Strong performing leaders get even stronger: moving +16% further into top performance tiers, and are promoted 1.48x more than their non-coached peers
  • Performance and well-being rise across the organization: a 19% shift from low to good employee well-being is reflected in a shift of the overall performance curve, with 15% more of total employees qualifying as top talent
  • 13x overall ROI based on performance and retention outcomes

"We knew that our employees were feeling stress and burnout. Leaders were experiencing their own compassion fatigue, making it challenging for them to support the needs of their employees. With a multi-generational workforce, we also knew that finding a solution that would fit everyone’s needs would be a challenge."

— Lisa Foust, Chief People & Engagement Officer

Creating healthier communities

John Muir Health is a leading healthcare organization in the San Francisco Bay Area. The health system offers a full-range of medical services, including primary care, outpatient, and imaging services, and is widely recognized as a leader in many specialties – neurosciences, orthopedic, cancer, cardiovascular, trauma, emergency, pediatrics, and high-risk obstetrics care. With an integrated system of doctors, hospitals, and other services, John Muir Health is committed to providing the highest quality patient care and an exceptional patient experience every day.

Innovating through adversity

John Muir Health wanted to grow its services, as well as expand its reach of best-in-class care. However, the pandemic dealt a crippling blow to the entire health care sector. Financial constraints and declining employee well-being presented major challenges for the organization.

“We were listening to our employees through feedback sessions, focus groups, and surveys. They were struggling with burnout and high stress — especially within nursing, which is our largest group,” says Jeff Portwood, Program Director, Learning and Organizational Development.

These issues had a negative ripple effect, directly impacting patient satisfaction. They were also exacerbated by a competitive talent retention landscape.

As a healthcare provider, John Muir Health understood that employee well-being is paramount for delivering high-quality care and an exceptional patient experience. So the organization set goals to strengthen performance, build leadership, and retain top talent for the journey ahead — all with the health and happiness of its people at the center of success.


Building resilience and leadership capacity

Since 2021, John Muir Health has offered  BetterUp Care™ coaching to each of its 6,500 employees to improve resilience and well-being at scale. The organization also invested in  BetterUp Lead coaching for high-performing leaders.

“We were interested in Care first, but as we engaged with BetterUp, we found there was more support we could tap into for leader development,” Jeff says. “Our research tells us that managers have a significant impact on front-line employees. We wanted to strengthen that group because we knew it would have a compound effect.”

John Muir Health started its journey with BetterUp Lead by onboarding people managers to the platform based on recommendations from senior leaders. This approach yielded a wide range of results. So, in year two with BetterUp, the health system decided to tweak its strategy.

“We wanted to identify not only high-potential employees, but high-interest as well — for example, leaders who participated in employee resource programs on a voluntary basis,” Jeff says. “This helped us find those who were serious about career development.” This is helping the organization address succession planning, which has become a higher priority over the years.

“Now, versus strictly selecting people who are already leaders, the greater return on investment is going to be for emerging and aspiring leaders,” Jeff says.

"These sessions enable safe, constructive review, and a refocus of action on what is important at work. It keeps me recommitted to my job and my team."

— John Muir Health team member

Making strides in well-being, engagement, performance, and retention

Today, John Muir Health’s employees are thriving. More people are staying with the organization — and moving up in its ranks.
High performers leveraging BetterUp Lead coaching received 16% higher performance scores as compared to similar non-coached peers. With this stronger performance, the health system has more opportunity to promote from within to build its leadership bench.
Employees who invest their time in BetterUp Care™ are shifting the organization’s well-being curve from languishing to flourishing. This change is mirrored in the performance curve: of the employees who engaged with BetterUp Care™, 15% more received ratings in the top two performance tiers, compared to their peers who did not use BetterUp Care™. And it’s clear that the support is welcome.
“Seventy percent of our Lead participants also leveraged Care. The fact that they've chosen to continue their journey with BetterUp after using Lead speaks to the importance of continued well-being for our teams,” Jeff says.
As a result, well-being, performance, and retention have significantly improved. This has a direct impact on John Muir Health’s bottom line, with cost savings on voluntary turnover, and gains from higher employee productivity and goal attainment.
“Our leaders using BetterUp have an impact on attrition because there’s a much greater self-awareness of how they affect their employees,” Jeff says. “Several team members have also told me that without the coaching, they might have left the organization. Instead, they didn’t leave — they got promoted.”
John Muir Health’s success with BetterUp and return on investment from the platform were made possible because of the organization’s commitment to BetterUp. Lisa Foust, John Muir Health’s Chief People & Engagement Officer is leading the charge.
“Lisa committed to BetterUp because she is committed to the improvement of our employees’ health and well-being. She gives me the time I need to manage the program effectively,” Jeff says. “We didn’t just activate BetterUp and let it run. We adjusted our leadership plan every year based on what we were learning. That’s how we get results from the solution. If you don’t have to spend your time constantly onboarding new people, you can spend that energy making the organization a higher quality entity, as opposed to just one that survives.”

“The BetterUp solution shifted from being a pandemic-related solution, to building resiliency among our employees and leaders, to becoming a staple and anchor point for building tenacity, balance, and developing current and future leaders at John Muir Health.”

— Lisa Foust, Chief People & Engagement Officer

A long term commitment to transformation

John Muir Health plans to continue partnering with BetterUp as it prepares its next wave of leaders to steward the organization forward.

“I see this as an ongoing investment, because the results have been phenomenal,” says Lisa Foust, Chief People & Engagement Officer. “It makes me very excited about the future.”



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