The Employee as a Consumer: Q&A with Cathy Fraser, CHRO of Mayo Clinic

Bruna Sales

Interview Discussion Topics

  • The employee as a consumer – a person who makes the choice of where to work by considering a broadly defined value proposition, inclusive of financial, work, and social aspects of life.
  • Developing an employee-centric management approach with a keen focus on cost and investment.
  • Promoting employee well-being, and workforce diversity through innovative and cost-effective initiatives.

Who is Cathy Fraser?

Cathy Fraser is the Chief Human Resources Officer for Mayo Clinic. She is responsible for the people strategies and services that ensure Mayo’s current and future workforce delivers patient-centric mission in alignment with the organization’s primary value – the needs of the patients come first. She leads innovative and transformative projects in the people area covering a broadly defined employee life cycle, with a keen focus on employee safety and well-being, and workforce diversity. Cathy joined Mayo Clinic in 2016.

Previously, she led Human Resources at Tenet Healthcare, a large national healthcare services company. Earlier in her career, she served as a management consultant at McKinsey & Company, helping clients with organization and human capital opportunities primarily in the retail and consumer industries. She also worked in various finance roles at American Airlines and Sabre, and finance roles at General Motors.

Q: In what ways is Mayo Clinic approaching the employee as a consumer?

A: It starts with a mindset shift, taking the perspective of the employee vs. the perspective of the organization. In practice, this means simple and friendly communications, programs that provide choice based on individual interests, and tools that recognize and celebrate people’s lives in and out of work.

“Innovation permits us to assess the right people to Mayo”

Q: How important is it for Mayo Clinic to innovate its people programs, given the broader mission of the organization itself?

A: Mayo’s mission is “to inspire hope and contribute to health and well-being by providing the best care to every patient.” We can on- ly do this with excellent people who, in a very competitive labor market, are attracted and chose to stay at Mayo. Innovation permits us to assess the right people to Mayo, provide a community in which they feel connected, and create flexibility for individual choice.

Q: Your keynote at the CHRO Exchange will focus on Mayo’s distinctive people approaches. What major takeaway will attendees learn from your session?

A: 1. Pay attention to all your people in your workforce (which are likely well beyond your employees). 2. Treat your employees like you would a consumer, with choice and service. 3. Step outside the traditional lines of “work” and offer service and programs that recognize your peoples’ “lives.”

Q: What do you feel the biggest challenge is in trying to embed an employee-centric management approach?

A: HR’s challenge of championing innovation that often requires some risk taking.

“Mayo Clinic has been recognized as a DiversityInc Top Hospital and Health System since 2011.”

Q: What programs/ initiatives does Mayo Clinic have in place to promote employee well-being and workforce diversity?

A: Mayo has a robust diversity and inclusion program including employee resource groups and department diversity champions. Our well-being program is evolving to embrace a broad definition of well-being – meaning at work, work life integration, physical, emotional, financial and social; with 1,000 wellness champions and a robust platform including “Twelve Habits of Highly Healthy People,” Mayo is well invested in this strategy.

Q: If you could give business a piece of advice to help them strengthen their HR function, what would it be?

A: Create an expectation that HR lead workforce transformation concepts – giving them the permission to take a risk and experiment with new concepts.

Join Cathy at the CHRO Exchange on Nov. 12 for her session: "Serving the Needs of the Customer through Transformative People Practices."

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