The situation

Allina Health operates hospitals, clinics, home care and additional care services in the Twin Cities metropolitan area and regional communities throughout Minnesota and western Wisconsin. With more than 27,000 employees, 6,000 associated and employed physicians, and more than 4,000 volunteers, Allina Health leverages a strong workforce to deliver exceptional health care and support services to the people in its communities. However, a growing and aging U.S. population (not to mention, organizational workforce) and a pronounced critical-skill gap are fueling fierce competition for employees among health systems. In fact, Willis Towers Watson’s 2014 Talent Management and Rewards Study showed that 60% of health care organizations reported having problems attracting people with critical skills. With an ongoing focus on attracting, developing, retaining and engaging its current and potential future workforce, Allina Health wanted to better anticipate talent needs and identify workforce risks that might interfere with the organization’s care and growth objectives. Allina Health chose Willis Towers Watson as its strategic partner in workforce planning, talent analytics and organizational development. It was clear that Allina Health’s needs were changing. As the health care environment shifted, HR’s approach to talent analytics needed to reflect the complexity of the environment in which it operated. In response, HR sought a more sophisticated and scalable analytics solution to enable the organization to consolidate and examine large quantities of HR data quickly and proactively. This approach centered on identifying and analyzing potential current and future workforce gaps and managing these risks more effectively and efficiently.

The approach

Allina Health looked to Willis Towers Watson to help its organization address key workforce challenges: How do we attract and retain the right talent? Where are we at risk of losing key resources due to upcoming retirements? Where do our labor costs exceed targets based on the way we’ve sourced talent? The team was able to move Allina Health from its existing analytics approach (which had worked well at an earlier time when Allina faced less complex workforce issues) to a more sophisticated, software-as-aservice platform, Willis Towers Watson Talent Analytics Software. Once implemented, Willis Towers Watson Talent Analytics Software provided Allina with the capabilities to see how, where and to what degree the workforce was being managed and the consequences of those activities on key workforce outcomes — including the quality of hires, leadership development, manager effectiveness, performance, upskilling and turnover. This software made it possible for Allina Health to evaluate the impact of current decisions and consider strategic shifts to improve the return on workforce investments.

Willis Towers Watson Talent Analytics Software has allowed our health care organization to review relevant data and plan strategically for changes in the workforce. In one pivotal role alone, we were able to identify that replacement hiring at our historical level would miss the mark in terms of supporting future organization and leadership needs. In fact, we needed to increase by two to three times that amount to continue to fill our pipeline, which has led to a special program targeted to specialized new graduate hiring.
— Heather Froehlich
Manager of Workforce Strategy & Development Allina Health

The result

Willis Towers Watson Talent Analytics Software enabled Allina Health’s HR leaders to make evidence-based decisions to support recruiting, talent management, total rewards and other key workforce efforts based on the actual workforce dynamics and potential impact to the organization. In several cases, the evidence showed where prior assumptions didn’t match the reality of the experience of the organization, fundamentally changing what and how workforce actions would be implemented. For example, department leaders were surprised to see concentration of turnover in the first year of employment, which suggested issues with candidate selection, orientation training and onboarding support. This new information has forced HR leaders to review new hire interviewing and orientation processes. The software’s easy-to-use, out-ofthe-box functionality and configurable visualization capability allowed Allina Health’s HR leaders to present workforce insights to its executives in a meaningful way. Now, workforce analytics is at the top of leaders’ agenda and not just another item on the longterm road map. In a rapidly changing market environment, the ability to identify and interpret workforce risks and opportunities quickly and effectively becomes a key competitive advantage and business differentiator.