As a hospitality associate delivering meal trays to patients at Memorial Hospital, Erin Beeman remembers regularly seeking out nurses to check the blood sugar of the diabetic patients before they could eat breakfast, lunch or dinner.
These could have been run-of-the-mill daily encounters. But Beeman took it upon herself to learn a new nurse’s name every day. This simple but personal gesture helped build rapport and camaraderie between the hospitality and nursing staff on the patient floors, and it ultimately made her even better at her work.
Her manager, Gail Weismann, Director of Nutritional Services and Environmental Services, took notice of Beeman’s integrity, compassion and initiative and realized her potential as a “rising star.” At the same time, Weismann knew that Beeman wondered what future work she might pursue that more closely matched with her degree in nutritional sciences.
Then one day last summer, Weismann met up with Beeman and handed her an envelope. Beeman opened it to find a piece of paper directing her to a meeting with Human Resources.
“I didn’t do it!” Beeman recalled telling Weismann with a laugh. “But it was a very good thing.”
Good, indeed. Beeman learned that Weismann had been spreading the word about her potential and she would be taking part in Beacon Pathways, a new human resources-led initiative aimed at retaining associates who’ve shown their desire and potential to advance at Beacon — especially those who embody the system’s mission of delivering outstanding care, inspiring health and connecting with heart.
“I was thinking, it would be wonderful if something just fell into my lap, and then there was Gail handing me this envelope and this opportunity,” Beeman recalled.
In October, after completing the Beacon Pathways process, Beeman applied for an athletic club staff opening at Beacon Health & Fitness in Granger. She enthusiastically received and accepted the offer.
Her job now includes helping to run the front desk, checking in members, signing people up for trial memberships and massages, making smoothies and restocking supplies. Beeman is working on becoming certified as a wellness coach and she is helping to teach nutrition classes.
“If my coworkers at the hospital saw me here, they would not even recognize me,” Beeman said. “I’m a totally different person. I want to share my passion with others and encourage others to be happy, too.”
Beeman is one of about 50 associates who have helped pilot the Beacon Pathways initiative.
Beacon officially launched the program in 2022 after trialing it for over a year with interested associates. The process lets managers identify high-performing associates, including those who join Beacon in entry-level positions, and help them move into other positions with new challenges within Beacon.
Beacon Pathways also aims to expose associates to new positions if they’ve held their current position for at least six months but desire another type of work, said Jeremy Gillespie, a Beacon Human Resources Business Partner who has helped develop the program.
“Beacon is taking the initiative to create a platform, a resource and a vehicle, to create that awareness of those resources that we already have,” Gillespie said. “We’re also their coach, their cheerleader, their biggest fan and will help them get to the finish line.”
Gillespie assisted Tiffany Chukwuma make the move from processing patient discharge records at Elkhart General to becoming a Community Health Worker in Beacon’s Community Impact department. Recently, her work has included interviewing people after they receive COVID-19 vaccines at Beacon’s federally funded clinics.
Chukwuma ultimately had hoped to work in public health, since she holds a bachelor of arts degree in healthcare administration. “Coming out of college, I was able to come into the organization and still be able to grow,” she said. “I think that’s amazing that Beacon offers these kinds of opportunities.”
Tuition reimbursement is available through Beacon Pathways if a desired move requires more education, and job shadowing opportunities may be offered. Job shadowing gives an associate a realistic preview of what a different role might be like. The associate spends a couple of hours in that department, asking questions and helping them determine whether they want to make the transfer.
Human Resources Business Partner Connor Creevey, who also helped launch the program, said Beacon Pathways depends on leaders being “unselfish” enough to give up their top departmental performers for the greater good of the organization.
Weismann said that’s not difficult for her at all.
“In every new hire interview, we talk about the potential of growing within the organization,” Weismann said. “We want our standouts to have long-lasting careers here at Beacon.”
Erin Beeman said her new position at Beacon Health & Fitness has felt like home since her first day, and she’s grateful for the new opportunity. The fit she has found and the comfort she feels makes her face glow as she talks about her work. She wants members to also feel comfortable.
So want to take a guess at what she is doing?
That’s right, she is learning a new member’s name every day as she greets them as they swipe their membership card upon entry.
“I know how hard it is sometimes to get out the door and go work out after you’ve had a long, busy day,” she said. “I want to make their experience here as nice and pleasant as possible, and I want them to be as happy as I am.”