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Throughout her thirty years in HR, Lisa Kemph has developed a certain philosophy about creating people-centered workplaces that prioritize quality programming and employee development. At the cornerstone of that philosophy is an important acknowledgement: everyone has a story.
“You never know where someone is coming from,” Kemph says. “Take time to get to know your employees, what they like to do outside of work, what gets them excited, and what fulfills them. Every one-on-one meeting with an employee is an opportunity to learn more. I always ask, ‘What I can do to make your job easier?’ You never know what that might be.
“Often it is something easy and simple to implement, yet makes a tremendous difference to that employee,” she continues. “When you make decisions with that insight, you’ll have more empathy, patience, approach situations differently, and ultimately achieve better outcomes.”
In 2020, Kemph brought that mindset to Brooks Rehabilitation, which provides advanced rehabilitation therapy and medical care. She had been consulting for a couple of years when she was approached about the role. Leadership wanted an experienced chief human resources officer (CHRO) who could help stabilize the HR organization, implement a human capital system, and bolster recruitment efforts. More importantly, they wanted someone whose vision and values aligned with the organization.
Initially the role was a six-month interim position. Kemph immediately saw this as an opportunity to leverage her multi-industry HR expertise to move the organization forward while at the same time determining long-term career potential. “It was important that I work with leaders who had integrity and for an organization whose mission I believed in,” she recalls.
When Kemph stepped into the interim role, she realized that Brooks’ rapid growth had outpaced the abilities of the HR function and saw an opportunity to refresh its infrastructure. She was also pleased to find that Brooks was committed to its employees and responding to their needs in a real and relevant way. When the organization’s CEO asked her to come on board full time just three months into her contract, she didn’t hesitate to say yes.
“It felt like the culture and the people I was working with were a great fit. It was really important for me to be surrounded with likeminded people who did what they said and delivered on their promises,” she says.
Since then, Kemph and her colleagues have emulated that quality in the HR function by putting employees at the center of everything they do. As Kemph reminds every new hire class, “It all starts with people. YOU are our reason for being.” Over the course of the past several years, Kemph’s HR team has developed meaningful policies and programs, built an in-house full cycle recruitment function, and created total rewards and career development systems and strategies.
She also helped spearhead critical career development programs that have placed the needs of all employees at the forefront. Additionally, the team has created a Leading at Brooks learning journey for all people managers throughout the organization.
“Our managers are cultural ambassadors and are the ones responsible for bringing our culture to life each and every day for our employees, patients, and stakeholders,” she explains. “It’s important that they’re prepared for that role.”
That’s why starting in 2021, every leader in the company was required to do an emotional intelligence assessment. “All development begins with self-awareness, and our leaders have appreciated having individualized insight into their strengths and areas of opportunity,” she says. Kemph and her team used those assessments as the springboard to curate and develop meaningful leadership content. The feedback from the managers has been positive, as evidenced by their desire for more learning opportunities.
“As you would expect, many of our leaders are hungry for development, and have appreciated the program offerings. Some have been challenged by the intense focus on their own development but in the end have realized strong leaders build strong employees, and together they build strong organizations,” she reports. “It’s been a real journey, and you don’t always see the true results right away. It’s more of a long-term play, but we are seeing our employee retention and engagement increase year over year. And our culture is stronger than ever!”
Kemph has also spearheaded other initiatives allowing the organization to be more responsive to employee feedback. The company initially performed a lengthy engagement survey every eighteen to twenty-four months, but such an in-depth study could take around six months to sift through the data and tease out action items.
The organization has pivoted in the last eighteen months to a pulse survey model consisting of a four-to-eight question, streamlined survey that’s performed two or three times a year. “It’s been advantageous to collect the data more efficiently and regularly, ensuring any changes or enhancements are more relevant and meaningful to our employee base. We can review and analyze the data more quickly and make changes that the employees are telling us are important to them at that time,” Kemph explains.
When she isn’t working to transform and improve the workplace for employees, the CHRO prides herself on being a wife and mother of three; an avid reader and shopper; and an energetic beach, pool, and Disney-goer.
The Bailey Group—an NFP company has a been a part of the Northeast Florida community through business and philanthropy for over sixty years, helping organizations overcome challenges and realize better outcomes with a holistic and all-inclusive approach. Specializing in employee benefits and financial solutions, we are proud to be a trusted partner of so many outstanding clients, including Brooks Rehabilitation. Get to know us at mbaileygroup.com.