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Lisa Stahnke – Medica

She’s behind Medica’s healthy personnel policies

When the elderly mother of a Medica employee was having memory issues, Lisa Stahnke stepped in by coordinating assistance through Wellthy.

A caregiving support service for families with complex, chronic or ongoing needs, Wellthy connected that employee with someone who could assist in tending to her mother. As Stahnke explains, it was just another indication of the commitment Medica makes to its workforce, many of whom—like her—are middle-aged women balancing busy personal and professional responsibilities.

Lisa Stahnke | Vice President, HR and Employee Experience | Medica

Lisa Stahnke | Vice President, HR and Employee Experience | Medica

Many of them, Stahnke says, have also come to appreciate Medica taking an interest in their well-being by connecting them with Wellthy caregivers who can customize a way to cope with the inevitable challenges that particularly affect this demographic.

“It’s a concierge service that focuses on the sandwich generation that, like me, has young kids and aging parents,” she tells Vision. “It’s the number-one service we offer to our employees.”

It’s also just one of many Medica services that Stahnke says encompasses the employee and human experience. As long as Medica can keep its employees engaged, the better those employees can earn and maintain the trust of the nearly 1.5 million members across 12 states.

Recruiting and retention

As a member of the human resources department for nearly six years and vice president of HR and the employee experience since April 2022, Stahnke is all about making Medica a choice employer in the Twin Cities’ tight job market.

With the regional employment rate high and companies in all industries immersed in a talent hunt, she’s front and center in recruiting and retaining talented people as well as pursuing a progressive agenda that she deems both good business and socially responsible.

It starts by mulling a basic question: What does an employee get from working at Medica? Vital as compensation is, she emphasizes that salary and benefits can’t be the end-all. Equally important, Stahnke says, is for an employee to feel valued and afforded the opportunity to advance.

Lisa Stahnke | Vice President, HR and Employee Experience | Medica

Her efforts here have only intensified since last year, when Medica acquired a majority share of Dean Health Plan, a subsidiary of SSM Health based in Madison, Wisconsin. Given how much of Medica’s and Dean Health Plan’s workforces have functioned remotely since the COVID-19 pandemic, she’s now keeping tabs on employees in 23 states.

All needing to be united by corporate culture, Stahnke has fashioned communication and learning and development programs as well as a system for ensuring competitive compensation. Minneapolis and St. Paul also having been so adversely affected by the 2020 murder of George Floyd, Stahnke’s particularly sensitive to how DEI initiatives factor in personnel policy.

“Although we were already committed to diversity, equity and inclusion, we absolutely doubled down on it after George Floyd’s murder,” she says.

Team effort

The doubling down included the September 2020 hiring of a senior director of DEI with Stahnke complementing his efforts by overseeing six centers of excellence or teams to promote the development of a particular employee subset: Black, Asian, Pride, Native American, Women and Veterans.

But progressive as Medica strives to be, Stahnke reminds that no person or organization should be considered above unconscious biases and how DEI and the centers for excellence have made for more inclusive pools for recruiting. One can’t just talk the talk, she says.

Lisa Stahnke | Vice President, HR and Employee Experience | Medica

“We’ve made a conscientious effort to not just go through the norms but to reach out to different communities to identify candidates in the lower-populated ethnic groups,” Stahnke says.

Another colleague, Director of Talent Acquisition Rich Buckley, collaborates by participating in People of Color Career Fairs in the Twin Cities, and sustaining the outreach with community leaders. When Medica identified an area in St. Paul that had been especially impacted by the George Floyd aftermath, the company committed to hiring candidates from that ZIP code. Medica’s become a stronger company, Stahnke says, one offering proof of strength through diversity.

“When a potential new hire finds a cohort of employees who look like them and have similar experiences, they find an ally,” Stahnke says. “We take that extra step to ensure we’re finding candidates that mirror our community.”

For a greater good

Those employees also are encouraged to take an extra step toward commitment to their own communities. Medica allots everyone 16 hours paid time toward whatever goodwill volunteering suits one’s interests.

It’s all part of fostering a productive and progressive work culture, something Stahnke has done here since her first role as director of total rewards and HR operations. She’s earned two promotions and emphasizes the necessity of a forward-thinking HR department.

Everyone’s got to feel part of the environment and be who they are rather than putting up a false front. It’s worked for Stahnke, a Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota graduate with a degree in HR management who’s gone on to apply her skills at five companies since 2000. She joined Medica after six and a half years at Starkey Hearing Technologies, also in the Twin Cities region.

Lisa Stahnke | Vice President, HR and Employee Experience | Medica

“I really wanted to find a job where I could help people but didn’t want to be a nurse,” she says. “A recruiter long ago credited me for having a selling aspect as well as the skills to remember people.”

Her responsibilities here are wide, Stahnke overseeing most of the HR team as it weighs in on payroll, benefits, talent acquisition, training programs, facilities and more. Mindful of the tight job market, the company welcomes her input during executive meetings and allows HR a seat at the proverbial table.

All the better, she says, that the company’s based in Minnesota where Stahnke was born, raised and educated. Life’s good in the Land of 10,000 Lakes, one of which has a shorefront cabin for Stahnke to enjoy with her husband, children and grandchildren. And fulfilling as her previous jobs were, she says Medica stands out most.

“I was a customer of Medica before I worked here,” she says. “I was so impressed with what the company was and, as a nonprofit, how its revenues go back to the community through its foundation. Family also is most important to me, and I bring that role to Medica.”

View this feature in the Vol. V 2023 Edition here.

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