Five and a half years ago, as Gretchen Canney was contemplating the next chapter in her career, she overheard the lunchtime talk at a local Whole Foods Market. The conversation was about a company called Accolade. The energy was palpable.
“These employees were excited about the work they were doing,” she recalls. “They seemed to have a genuine passion for the company and its mission. I wanted to know more.”
With a degree in education and background in learning and development, Gretchen found an Accolade opening that matched her skills. She applied. She got the job. She hasn’t looked back.
Today, as a New Hires Experience Manager in the Talent and Development Group, Gretchen leads a team whose primary priorities are to educate new hires, support a world-class on-boarding experience, and foster a thriving learning environment. She’s thought about ways to shape not only how people do their jobs, but the passion they bring to their responsibilities. She’s collaborated with instructional designers and subject-matter experts to extend and expand existing offerings. She’s introduced, and tested, new ideas and initiatives. Gretchen has even taken the Accolade Health Assistant on-boarding course herself—an intense 34-day training and development program—and become, in Accolade parlance, “client ready.”
“I felt I needed to undergo the training myself,” says Gretchen. “I wanted to see just how intense it is, to experience what the new hires experience in a very real way.”
Accolade Health Assistants, Gretchen says, do the hard work of listening and caring to those with healthcare concerns—of being there, much as a family member or friend would be, and of wielding every Accolade resource on the client’s behalf. It takes a special kind of empathetic person to take on a job like that, she says, and every time a new Health Assistant joins Accolade, Gretchen and her team make it their business to ensure that the new hire will succeed.
In March of this year, for example, some 45 new Accolade Health Assistants took part in training that extended over 14 classroom days and 20 additional Development Center days—every hour of each day designed to yield essential information about the intricacies of the healthcare system, the ins and outs of benefits language, and the ever-growing range of Accolade resources and technologies. In the Development Center, an initiative Gretchen helped spearhead, established Health Assistants worked with the new hires as Guides in small-group environments to provide on-the-job training.
The goal is to enable the members of the new class of Health Assistants to put the heart of the Accolade model together with the range of resources so that they can serve Accolade clients effectively. “We work closely with our new hires,” Gretchen says. “We stick with them; we respect and support their desire to do their jobs well.”
In addition to educating Accolade Health Assistants, Gretchen collaborated with a team of instructional designers and learning specialists to help create South Paw U, a seven-week curriculum that covers topics ranging from Operations and Benefits Management to Healthcare Industry Knowledge and Sales. “My team helps build the community of educators, sets up the classes, and makes sure the instructors have the right guides and set the right training expectations, among other things,” Gretchen explains.
Gretchen has, she says, an awesomely talented team—people who are deeply committed to making Accolade a top place to work. The team actively imagines, and remembers, what a first day on the job feels like, and then goes about creating initiatives like the Ambassador program so that each new hire is greeted on their first day by someone who’s looking out for them.
For Gretchen and those who work with her, it all comes down to helping those who have made it their goal, and perhaps their career, to help others. To caring about the experience of every person who joins Accolade to make a difference.
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