“What sets DaVita apart from other big employers?” As chief people officer of DaVita Kidney Care, this is a question I am often asked.
I’ve worked at DaVita for more than 12 years — and I’ve held many positions during my time at the organization. My background is in field operations, meaning I oversaw the teams responsible for providing care to our patients. With 87% of our workforce in the field, this experience is invaluable as it taught me what our people do and why they do it.
The work of our caregiving teammates, such as our patient care technicians and our nurses, is awe-inspiring. Our name, DaVita, is an adaption of an Italian phrase that means “giving life” because that’s truly what these caregivers do. Dialysis is life-sustaining treatment. Our patients spend several hours in treatment several days a week to receive the care they need to stay well.
In an effort to not only fine tune my answer, but also to make it clearer to all our teammates (DaVita employees), last year we began work to define what makes us an Employer of Choice.
This project entailed many workstreams and teammates from all backgrounds. We knew that in order to get at the “why” of why our teammates join the organization and stay, we needed to hear from them. And when we dug in, two things came up time and time again: connection and growth.
Our culture encourages teammates to take action that inspires connection – and understandably so. Working in health care is a fulfilling but intense career choice. Because of the way dialysis works, our teammates spend a lot of time together and a lot of time with the same patients. So, connection is crucial – both within our teams and with our patients. This is why Fun is one of our Core Values. This is why we have DaVita Way Champions in-center who coordinate activities for teammates and patients. This is why we celebrate birthdays, anniversaries and so much more.
Just as important to connection, our culture provides support that encourages growth. We have an extraordinary number of programs aimed at accelerating teammates’ careers. From our Bridge to Your Dreams program that pays for teammates to pursue an associate’s degree in nursing to our Thrive program that grows RNs, clinical coordinators and clinical nurse managers into operational managers, we have something that meets each teammate where they’re at in their career. My own story is one of growth. Never did I think when I joined the organization in 2011 that I would land as chief people officer and oversee our entire workforce!
All of this introspection and work has culminated in “Together, We Give Life,” a story-gathering campaign that I’m really excited to highlight. The teammates featured in it are from across the country at all levels with diverse stories to tell. These teammates volunteered to self-record to share their stories in their own words on what makes DaVita a special place. And for all of them, connection and growth are at the heart of their “why.”
In hindsight, there was probably no “wrong answer” to my initial question. I’m sure every large organization has a different response to, “What sets you apart?” But I have to say, I’m incredibly proud that connection and growth are, in our teammates’ own words, what makes DaVita stand out.