A Passion for Employee Progress

John Beatty and his team work to ensure employees continually develop throughout their careers at BJC HealthCare

John Beatty spent most of his career working in manufacturing and engineering. It was only eleven years ago, however, that he discovered his passion for working in the healthcare industry. His first job in healthcare was as vice president of human resources for Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis, which is part of BJC HealthCare.

“I was fascinated by the healthcare industry, but I wouldn’t say I had a passion for it,” he says. “But six months after I started at Barnes-Jewish Hospital, it became a passion. I look back and wonder why I didn’t work in the industry for thirty years before I got this job. It’s a great industry, and every employee—no matter the job—ultimately plays a role in helping to provide exceptional care to our patients and communities. “

Beatty, however, discovered his passion for human resources much earlier. After earning a bachelor’s degree in English literature from Eastern Kentucky University, he started working as a teacher and football coach in Mason, Ohio, and then joined Cincinnati Milacron Inc. as a technical trainer, documentation specialist, and field service technician. Following some time at General Electric as a training manager in the robotics and vision systems division, Beatty joined Rockwell Automation and eventually became the director of human resources for Rockwell Software.

John Beatty, BJC HealthCare

“I was tapped on the shoulder by a division general manager at Rockwell who said, ‘With your skill set, I think you’d be really good at giving the human resources thing a try,'” Beatty recalls. “I said, ‘I don’t know anything about it.’ And he said, ‘It’s OK. You have really good people beneath you.’ He took a chance on me, and I took a chance on HR.”

After six years at Barnes-Jewish Hospital, Beatty had the opportunity to move into the system level at BJC HealthCare as the vice president of human resource operations, and two years ago, he became the chief human resources officer. Progressing in these positions helped Beatty see firsthand where improvements were needed to centralize HR operations and increase efficiency at BJC HealthCare, which has about thirty thousand part- and full-time employees across fifteen hospitals and multiple community health locations that serve Missouri and portions of Illinois.

Since becoming CHRO, Beatty and roughly 230 HR employees have worked to centralize the organization’s employee service center and recruiting efforts. “I’ve always been a big believer—because of my manufacturing background—in making data-driven decisions by looking at the analytics and seeing what the numbers are telling us,” Beatty says. “We didn’t have that in the human capital world. It didn’t exist.”

With analytics in mind, Beatty and his team set up systems that examine several hundred human capital data points by department. This allows managers to evaluate metrics such as retention, pay, recruitment performance, vacancy rates, operational vacancy rates, use of contract labor, trends in premium pay, and cost of turnover.

“It’s very data-focused and appeals to the leaders in healthcare in a language they understand, which includes metrics and analytics,” Beatty says. “It’s not just human resources coming in with what they think is a good idea. We have evidence that shows what we should do and why. In most hospital systems, labor costs are 45–55 percent of revenue. So if you want to make an impact on your cost structure, it’s usually good to look at the place where you’re spending the most money.”

In the future, Beatty plans to use information to evaluate leader performance, exit interview data, employee engagement results, patient safety, and quality data. “This will give us the ability to do a better job of targeting interventions to enhance our employee experience,” Beatty says.

To enhance the employee experience, BJC offers many benefits such as a defined benefit pension plan, multiple voluntary retirement savings plans, and an employee discount plan. Employees also can obtain the skills and knowledge to progress in their careers at no charge in a 188,000-square-foot building largely devoted to the BJC Institute for Learning and Development (BILD). Thirty-two HR employees work full-time to provide this employee development. “We really pride ourselves on the fact that we’re a learning organization,” Beatty says. “We want everybody to continue to grow. If you want the next job, then you’ve got to prepare now.”

In addition to the organization’s internal employee education programs, BJC HealthCare partners with universities to provide employees with better educational options. “We have a very robust tuition assistance program,” Beatty says. “People can get anything from a high school diploma to a master’s degree at a cost much lower than it would be anywhere else.”

Beatty’s own career development has included numerous leadership training programs, and he coaches BJC managers on leadership. His leadership philosophy is simple. “Get fantastic people around you—the best people you can find—and collaborate with them,” he says. “Then, get out of their way as much as possible but stand ready to help them when they need it.”

Photo: Tim Mudrovic

PwC recognizes the leadership and insight that John Beatty has achieved in his role as chief human resources officer for BJC HealthCare. PwC has a long-term relationship with BJC and John, and we have successfully worked together along the transformation journey. John has led initiatives to make an impact not only on their people and culture but also in the community.  His efforts will have a lasting effect on the organization and the healthcare it provides. PwC looks forward to continuing our relationship with BJC HealthCare and John to serve them in meeting the changing needs of healthcare in the future.