Hiring the Least Likely

What kind of organizational culture supports a program such as Diamonds in the Rough?
We are working to help the underserved take better care of themselves, and we want the organization to understand that the best way to do that is to relate to people at the level they’re on. You can’t sit there and say, “I’m for the poor; I’m trying to help these people.”
You’ve got to roll up your sleeves. And the best way to deal with them and understand them is to work with them every day. And to the extent that we can bring them into our suburban culture—people who used to be on Medicaid—it helps our nurses and doctors to better relate to the people in the community as well.

What is the benefit for the AmeriHealth organization?
A huge part of our success as a culture is the fact that we are able to relate to the people we serve. Most health professionals have given up on trying to change the behavior of Medicaid recipients—just throwing up their hands and saying they don’t want to serve Medicaid recipients, or they’ll take the money for serving Medicaid recipients but not really work with them as well as they would people they can better relate to. The people we bring in help change our own employees and make them more receptive and understanding of how to take care of those people. And if our employees can do it better, they can work with the doctors and nurses in the field and help them to take care of these people better. That’s what I want to create: a better and more solid connection between the healthcare system and people who are not accessing the healthcare system now. We firmly believe that you can do good and do well at the same time. But you’ve got to work a little harder.

What does your team look for in a Diamonds in the Rough candidate?
Motivation. Drive. That’s the most important thing. Someone who doesn’t fit the regular profile, someone who doesn’t really have the experience for the job, but they are highly motivated and smart. They need mentorship, someone to put their arms around them, but they will do the job. I’m not going to say that there has been total acceptance, but the general tone of the company has been accepting. It’s hard work. We pitch the success stories and we acknowledge that we will not have 100% success. But in business, you have to take chances. We have financial literacy programs; we have life-skills programs. If they can pass through these life-skills programs, we feel like we’ve changed their behavior. Not everybody makes it through this program, but not all college graduates make it in the workforce.

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