Abbott energizes Lifespan’s values-driven workforce

HUMANE RESOURCES: Lisa Abbott, senior vice president of human resources and community affairs, has been working to improve Lifespan’s investment in a happy, healthy workforce. / PBN PHOTO/RUPERT WHITELEY
HUMANE RESOURCES: Lisa Abbott, senior vice president of human resources and community affairs, has been working to improve Lifespan’s investment in a happy, healthy workforce. / PBN PHOTO/RUPERT WHITELEY

CHIEF HUMAN RESOURCES OFFICER, ENTERPRISE PRIVATE COMPANY | Lisa Abbott, Lifespan Corp.


Since starting at Lifespan Corp. in 2016, New York native Lisa Abbott, senior vice president of human resources and community affairs, has sparked new energy within the state’s largest health care provider.

Lifespan owns Bradley Hospital, Gateway Healthcare, Newport Hospital, Rhode Island Hospital and Hasbro Children’s Hospital and The Miriam Hospital. The nonprofit, with a brand mission of “delivering health with care,” has adopted a new set of shared values – C.A.R.E., that is, compassion, accountability, respect and excellence. These guiding values – created by a 26-employee team a few months ago – now anchor Lifespan’s recognition programs, review processes, methods of delivering care, colleague interactions and more.

“We have embedded it in everything we do. It’s all structured around the values,” Abbott said, and helps create team members who are not only technically capable but behaviorally competent as well.

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The accountability value, for example, doesn’t only pertain to employees who see other employees doing something wrong. Peer-to-peer accountability can also involve employees seeing one another doing something right.

“Maybe it was a near-miss, [someone] saved something that could have been a bad outcome,” said Abbott. Lifespan wants to know about it and recognize “employee actions that go above and beyond.” Video of these good-work stories were featured at the C.A.R.E. Days launch last fall. Abbott says they will likely be gathered via intranet going forward.

Establishing a solid definition of the company’s culture is only one aspect of Abbott’s efforts to strengthen Lifespan, said Presidentand CEO Dr. Timothy J. Babineau. Ensuring that the company is a good place to work is also a priority.

And Abbott – who Babineau called “a transitional leader” – has explored all facets of areas in which the company can better serve its 15,000 employees.

“She led a dedicated, cross-functional team of employees and physicians who studied the investments Lifespan makes in its employees to ensure we are competitive, contemporary and cost-effective,” wrote Babineau in his C-Suite nomination of Abbott. The result of this look at employee investments resulted in Total Rewards.

Total Rewards is a five-pronged, integrated program that seeks to meet employees where they are. It has five components: health and wellness; financial well-being; employee experience; life and community; and reward and recognition.

Abbott said the employee financial well-being part of the programming, for example, has myriad, resonant benefits.

“Anybody with financial pressure, such as stress-related issues and illness, [is faced with] barriers to being their very best self, with work stress and home stress,” Abbott said. “It impacts presenteeism, costs of leave … it all sort of feeds on itself.”

Financial issues, such as student-loan debt, can impact both groups, she noted. Older workers can be parents of younger workers, in which case Lifespan programming is addressing two parts of the same population facing similar issues.

Tools Lifespan has at its disposal to help include financial speakers, financial-services representatives on-site and financial web tools. A new 401(k) retirement-savings plan with 6 percent corporate match is another method for financial wellness at Lifespan.

Abbott is also helping the company catch up in an area where it lags: technology. A new information technology system will be introduced in the first week of July, putting much of the company’s paper processes on computer.

Though it’s intuitive and will automate workflow in new areas, she said, adding efficiencies, Lifespan is making sure everyone is comfortable with the new system. Classes are planned, along with on-site computer learning labs where employees can bring their work with them, and they can learn by doing their regular tasks.

“It’s going to revolutionize how we work here,” said Abbott, creating a more modern, efficient way of doing business that’s sure to benefit both employees and patients.

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