A Welcome Experience: Karen Brunsman
Crothall is committed to investing in its associates for many reasons. One of the most important being that we always want to hire the best person for the job.
If the perfect applicant is not 100% prepared, we do not let that opportunity to build a better company slip by. Instead, we give them the tools, training, and educational resources they need to become a perfect fit.
Karen Brunsman, Crothall Human Resources at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, had not planned to work in healthcare. She majored in education. After graduation, however, she was attracted to environmental services. That was 10 years ago when she began in administrative support and quickly moved into a management position.
Today, she manages Human Resources for more than 500 people and believes that her unusual background makes her a more effective member of the team. “My degree taught me to teach to all levels of understanding. Everyone has different abilities and learns in different ways,” Brunsman explains. “There are different strategies for helping people understand and achieve goals.”
She learned that the best way to improve the return on that investment is with regular engagement, just as an effective professor would do with a new classroom of students. “The fact that they know we’ll check in with them, to see how they are doing, makes them more confident about setting and achieving their goals,” says Brunsman. “Any type of engagement makes a difference. The more you engage, the more successful they will become.”
What are some ways you engage new hires, to help motivate them?
I tell them that in our account, we promote people almost every single day. I can talk about that at any orientation. People from all over the world and people from every background can succeed here. Sixty-five percent of our management staff started out as frontline associates.
We also use My Great Start, which includes a video, welcoming program, and a booklet that we go over. It talks about some of the benefits and discounts you are entitled to by working with Crothall.
What do you look for in a candidate?
We can teach people how to clean, but not how to have a great personality. That’s what attracts us to the right person.
I tell new team members to look around, to think about where they want to go. You can become a team leader, join the pharmacy team, or be an inspector. You can always sit down with a training manager to talk about your goals and ask what your path is to get there. You can choose your future.
One of our more recently promoted managers, Dorian Morton, was referred to us by one of our associates as someone who would be great at housekeeping. After the interview, I realized he had potential. I could tell that he would pick up his responsibilities quickly and move on. After three months at a second shift, he was made an operations manager.
He was able to figure out what opportunities we had available. He had the drive to use that information to get where he wanted to be.
Share how you have been able to provide an experience for the community through your work.
Receiving an award recognizes the hard work and dedication we, the entire management team at Cincinnati Children’s, put into the community. I am from Cincinnati, I love giving back to the city. Crothall gave me the springboard to make that happen.
As part of my job, I reach out to different organizations throughout the city. We work with the Urban League, Ohio Means Jobs, Catholic Charities of Cincinnati, The City Gospel Mission/JobsPlus, and Cincinnati Works. I can contact them when we need applicants, to see if they have people looking for jobs. I will interview anyone they refer.
I enjoy coming to work each day because the journey is always different. Each day brings a new challenge. I know that I have a leadership team who will support me with those challenges.
Tell us about a time when you recognized that you were impacting families or guests of a hospital.
People contact us frequently, to let us know that someone specifically has gone above and beyond to help a family out in some way. We love to share those at our monthly CHAT meetings, to make sure that the associate responsible is recognized in front of their peers.
In addition, we have different rewards and recognition programs. For example, we might give an outstanding associate a lunch ticket. There is also a rewards store, where they can pick something out. We recognize them in an auditorium and present the award in front of their peers.
What does providing a welcome experience mean to you?
As part of Human Resources, it means engaging new hires and getting them inspired. Letting them know how important they are to Children’s Hospital. How important the work we do here is to the patients and their families. We are all a part of their experience.
You never know who you are passing in the hallway, or what they are going through. There’s no bubble above a person’s head to tell you what’s going on: “My child has cancer.” “My child is in the ER and they don’t know what’s wrong with him.” You just don’t know.
I try to make these experiences relevant to them. I want to inspire each associate to make everyone’s stay here the best it can be.
What does it mean to you when you’re the recipient of a welcome experience?
I feel welcomed by my Resident Regional Manager, who engages with me often, to ask how I’m doing, how can he assist me, is there anything else he can do for me. It’s the same way we treat a patient in the hospital. He wants to understand the hurdles I need to overcome to do my job.
You never know how your words impact people. You hope that you have inspired them, and motivated them to be the best that they can be. When they succeed, that is the greatest reward.