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Scaling a culture of continuous learning at HealthEdge

At HealthEdge, we’re proud to promote a culture of continuous learning as part of our dedication to ongoing improvement. It starts with support at the executive level, making sure employees feel heard and respected. And then we provide the tools, attitude, and environment to refine the way we work and achieve better results.

How do we maintain this culture? We interviewed Wendi Ellis, VP of Talent and Learning, to learn about three strategies HealthEdge uses to encourage continuous learning across the organization.

Setting examples through leadership

One way we help build our company culture is leading by example. We set the expectation with company leaders that we prioritize ongoing education. Steve Krupa, HealthEdge’s CEO, is an excellent example of a continuous learner.

“He’s super supportive of recommending books and any of the programs we want to roll out,” said Ellis. “Our entire leadership team is. And I think that, because they’re setting that example at the top, it trickles down across the organization.”

At a structural level, in addition to communicating our learning expectations, we’ve adjusted how we solicit feedback from our employees. We send two engagement surveys every year to help us better understand how employees are being impacted by our new initiatives—and we make sure to take action quickly. This is especially important when it comes to questions about manager behavior and effectiveness.

“It can take up to 12 weeks to change a behavior,” said Ellis. “Not waiting 12 months to see how someone’s improved is a long time. Someone who’s disengaged with their boss will find a job within 90 days in that kind of environment.”

Being able to measure performance and impact every 3-6 months gives employees a chance to hear feedback, change their approach, and then check their progress.

Supporting people managers

Approximately 70% of employee engagement is tied to a person’s manager. Managers impact their employees lives every single day—and now that so many of us are working in a remote environment, we’re impacting people’s home lives as well. As such, Wendi sees being a manager as a responsibility and a privilege.

At HealthEdge, we are passionate about developing managers. We’ve worked hard to create an environment of continuous feedback. This means that we give managers the tools and the framework they need to be able to deliver meaningful and accurate feedback. In 2021, we found that employee performance ratings were overinflated. Managers tended to shy away from giving constructive feedback to avoid the conversations feeling like a confrontation. This was influenced in part by “the great resignation” that happened across industries

To help support managers in these discussions, we started by focusing on education. We gave managers a baseline of how we expect them to deliver feedback, including frequency and different ways to approach the conversation.

Improved feedback and review cycles

In addition to giving managers the tools to hold meaningful discussions with their direct reports, we also adjusted our annual performance review cycle. Instead of holding mid-year performance reviews, we now have mid-year check-ins. This shift allows mid-year conversations to center around what is going well for individual employees and where they’d like to continue improving rather than focusing on a rating.

“That conversation is going to be less threatening, more productive, and more empowering for our employees,” said Ellis.

To prepare members and individual contributors for performance conversations, we held training sessions to make sure everyone understood the core competencies they we’re being measured against. As part of this, we updated our descriptions of the behaviors we expect when it comes to those competencies.

And we don’t limit feedback to performance reviews. Another action we take is holding focus groups after every new initiative we launch. We ask employees what went well, what didn’t go well, and what changes they would like to see in the next iteration.

“That continuous improvement mindset is something we’ve built into everything we do,” said Ellis. “I’ve never worked for an organization where we have that level of respect, and where our voices can be heard the way that they are here.”