Some recruiters focus only on recruiting and forget the more vital aspect of talent management and what it takes to retain employees. The job isn’t finished after a health insurer hires an employee — in fact, “the game never ends,” says Michelle Billingsley, senior vice president and chief delivery officer for Visiant, a Medicare Advantage technology and consulting firm, and a speaker at a recent America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) webinar on talent management strategies. Billingsley formerly led information technology operations at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan’s Blue Care Network among other leadership roles during her 14-year stint there.

To keep valuable employees, “it’s important to make sure that they are aligned to your organization if you want them to actually be loyal,” Billingsley says. In the technology field, for example, as the use of big data exploded, health plans would lose talent within six to eight months to companies offering more money and better privileges.

Plans Need to Share Business Strategy

That’s why it’s important for a company to share its business strategy with employees. “Make sure they embrace the bigger picture of the business, and this goes for not just tech jobs,” she says. A plan needs employees that are “chasing the business. You need talent that’s in that frame of mind.”

Managers should make sure that employees understand “why they are doing what they are doing.” They need to buy in to the company’s goals and business plan, she says. Billingsley advises recruiters at health plans to be in “constant dialogue” at all levels of the company around not only how to attract talent but how to retain it.

Health insurer managers also should keep in mind that the workplace is changing. “How people work is evolving with the entrance of each new generation into the workplace,” she says.

This new influx reshapes the workplace culture and the broader job market. “Keep in touch with your employees and find what works well for them, bearing in mind these changes in culture,” she says. “To do that it’s important to have a conversation with them.”

“When acquiring and recruiting, don’t think of only conforming to today; you want to have that evolving workplace in the forefront, how you’re managing culture and your environment,” she says. “You don’t want to stagnate” because every other market is changing. Silicon Valley workplaces are changing, for example, and these ideas are starting to impact how people envision a work environment. Things like an open workplace, dress code changes and flexible work hours are becoming important to all generations, not just younger workers.

Of course, retention also requires providing opportunity for growth for employees. “Once you’ve recruited talent, it’s important to help that talent succeed,” says Billingsley. “Set team members up for success. Do they have the right development tools? Do they have access to training, mentors and membership in the trade associations they need?”

Insurers should plan ahead for how to “grow your own” leadership, Billingsley says. Organic methods for growing leadership include shadowing — that is, inviting less experienced workers to follow more experienced workers on a project. Mentoring, coaching and peer reviews are also useful. “These are all bottom up versus top down” methods of retention, she says.

“If you are in a meeting and you see a team member expressing a lot of interest or asking a lot of questions about a project, let them work with the leader of that project,” she says. “It helps them engage.”

It’s hard to find time for the team building and leadership development it takes to retain good talent, Billingsley says.

“You have to have a plan, and it starts with building and operational goals,” she says. Build goals around team management and incentivize leaders to make time for it.