TGH Chief People and Talent Officer on fostering an intentional and inclusive organizational culture

Qualenta Kivett talks about the importance of transparency and presentation for your employees.

Tampa General Hospital (TGH) was recently recognized by Forbes as the top employer of women in the nation, moving up 12 spots from last year. In addition to half of the C-suite being women, 70% of the hospital’s senior vice presidents are women, which according to a recent McKinsey report is almost double the average for other healthcare systems.

As the hospital’s human resources and talent manager, Qualenta Kivett, JD, is quick to note, however, that she’s not alone in striving to cultivate a strong organizational culture, noting that his colleagues and teammates throughout the organization share in these efforts.

Kivett recently spoke to HealthLeaders about the importance of transparency in healthcare organizations, mentoring, and how the hospital ensures that the benefits they provide match the needs of their employees.

This transcript has been edited for clarity and conciseness.

HealthLeaders: As Chief People and Talent Officer, what influence do you have on the overall organizational culture of TGH?

Qualenta Kivett: I share this responsibility, which I appreciate. Although talented people, the CHRO or the HR office are often thought of as having a culture, the point here is to understand that we all have a culture. In the same way, we all possess quality.

My role is to understand best practices, to understand the techniques and ways to improve and maintain our culture, but it is our responsibility to influence and maintain the culture towards which we work.

At this point, we had climate change. We know what our climate is, but the real testimony of culture is when we all leave and the next generation of leaders arrives, does that culture remain?

HL: Does TGH have childcare assistance or allowances for employees?

Kivette: Part of our success is that we look at our data, and I want to start there because sometimes there’s a misconception that all women are the primary caretakers in a child environment. What we did this year is a benefits survey to understand what the organization needs as a whole. We were able to take that and dissect by different categories; so we looked at who identified as female and what they wanted. Childcare was one of the best deals we had, but it was higher on the list for our male population.

We have an on-campus daycare and we also have sick care. So if a child is sick, they can take them to a secluded and safe place, away from the rest of the children, to take care of while the parent is at work. We offer that, and we have a wide range of benefits that support our organization as a whole.

HL: Are there mentor/mentee opportunities at TGH?

Kivette: We have a formal program called LeadPGH, and it’s a leadership development program that emphasizes empowerment. Depending on each group, they self-direct under our pillars where they want to focus their training and collaboration. After graduating from this program, they enter an alumni program and then connect with a mentor. They list the top three mentors they would like, and then we meet with them every month or two to provide that support.

We also have informal programs that make us unique. If someone reaches out to a leader, they will respond, including the CEO. He responds to all team member emails he receives. For us, it creates an environment where people stop you and have this conversation or say, “I’d like to meet you. All of us at executive and formal leadership levels also make time to meet people informally.

Hl: What career development opportunities are available to TGH employees?

Kivette: We have a people development institute [that’s] free for our team members, and it’s a partnership with the University of South Florida. Members of the team [earn badges as they study], [which they can] substitute education and/or experience where appropriate. If you are able to learn the path, it gives you more access and opportunities.

We also have tuition reimbursement, and we also have programs where you can work reduced hours and go to school while receiving your regular salary so that we can help our team members continue to develop. This is an important question that helps us stand out, especially during such a difficult time.

HL: How has the hospital dealt with the staffing shortage in the industry and how would you say that reflects the culture?

Kivette: We lead with four leadership attributes that were defined by our CEO. He created, in partnership with an IO psychologist, a leadership program.

We lead with authenticity, vulnerability, kindness and transparency; and it is an expectation of all leaders within our organization. We expect 70% of our leaders to have completed the course and training by the end of September.

We have experienced nursing shortages over the past ten years in the industry. I don’t think we’re immune to that, but I think the transparency of where we stand and what we need to do is something that sets us apart.

Another element of this is also listening. We [conduct] a few different surveys, and we take the information and it drives change. If people feel their voice is heard, they will stay and give their voice to the organization.

From a benefits survey, we shape our new benefits that will occur in the next calendar year [where] we are rolling out new aspects of our benefits structure and additional resources.

The last is to be nimble. We realized that just because we’re in leadership positions doesn’t mean we don’t know everything. This is the genuine part, right? By involving the team doing the work, team members have the opportunity and are welcome to help resolve any issues we encounter; and we accept these comments. Programs were developed as a result of this. Our DENI manager was hired thanks to the feedback and listening sessions that our CEO held.

Aubrey L. Morgan