Supporting People During Rapid Change

May 26, 2020

Supporting People During Rapid Change

Jed Liuzza, Chief Human Resources Officer of OU Medicine in Oklahoma City, possesses a deep reserve of HR expertise in the healthcare industry. From benefits to training to leadership development, Liuzza is a leader in all aspects of people practices and strategy. Here Liuzza gives insight into his personal journey and the landscape of HR. 

HR People + Strategy: How did you get into HR?

Jed Liuzza: I was in college and working as a student intern in a hospital in HR. It was just inherent in me as a person to serve others. I felt called to serve people who were more vulnerable or needed help, and hospitals seemed to be a key place for that. 

HRPS: What’s unique to HR in a healthcare setting? 

JL: It’s similar to HR in other companies, however, healthcare adds an extra layer of meaning and the outcome really helps people in their most vulnerable times. 

HRPS: What is the biggest or most complicated challenge you are facing right now?

JL: Generally, the healthcare industry can be quite volatile. As a result, you hear about mergers and affiliations quite often. The pendulum has swung from buying clinics to selling off, from gaining market share to divesting. The first part of my career was dealing with this volatility and the pendulum swinging. People needed help finding their place in the midst of all these M&As. You’re trying to motivate people during a time of change that may not be desired. For example, going from a for-profit to a non-profit system is a huge change and people need help through that change. 

Current challenges during this pandemic deal with needing to be adaptable more quickly. You have to let go of your fundamental training to meet the organization in the moment and what it needs. HR professionals are there to provide stability and guidance in how to get things done. You have to change your leadership style right now to get things done. You have to draw on your experience and skills during these unique times. 

Sometimes you feel that what you’re doing is not enough. Other times, problems that are not of your doing present a challenge to the organization. It draws the organization together to be more creative and innovative to accomplish the things that are most important. 

Mental health resources are becoming a much higher need to deal with the stress and anxiety. HR helps people perform at their best and supports them. In healthcare, you have an added layer of helping providers with a high number of deaths or with the death of a colleague. That is most worrisome at this moment. 

HRPS: Tell us about a solution to a pressing issue that you orchestrated.

JL: One of my proudest achievement with my HR team was managing the changes brought from a change of ownership. The organization was owned by a for-profit company with several hospitals and it was in the midst of aligning with a non-profit, faith-based partner. Talk about a change of culture. Then the board decided that we would be a stand-alone, non-profit organization, which required another pivot. Our team had to work on getting infrastructure up and running, such as total rewards, a new HR information system, and more. 

My team came through with flying colors. We went from a skeleton crew when we worked with a corporate company and grew four-fold in staff to do it on our own. We are now the heart of HR for our hospitals. I retained all of my team and developed them into leaders, even more than they thought they could become. 

HRPS: How do you learn new ideas, professionally and personal?

JL: Joining the HR People + Strategy CHRO Circle. I also collaborate with my senior team of talented HR professionals who share their knowledge and expertise in their respective areas. Lastly, I read a lot, especially research articles and books.

HRPS: Where do you see HR in 10 years?

JL: Closer to a true strategic partner than we are today and transformed into a value-added part of the business rather than a transactional, policy-police function. HR will be more demanding of and earning the respect of its peers because of the higher expectations and talents of the new generation of workforce. HR must be seen as a solutions-driven function in the future.

HR will also have a bigger voice in the organization. The HR profession has made a lot of strides in having influence in the organization but in the next five to 10 years, HR will be the number one or number two person. Our exposure to operations allows us to expand beyond the HR world to a value-added member of the top leadership team.

The Authors: 

Jed Liuzza is Chief Human Resources Officer of OU Medicine.