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October 11, 2011

Meet HR Executive's 'Turnaround Kid'

Daily Briefing

HR Executive Magazine has named Vic Buzachero, corporate senior vice president of innovation, human resources and performance management at San Diego-based Scripps Health, as one of its three Honor Roll award recipients for 2011.

Buzachero's honor is the latest accolade for Scripps Health and its executive team in recent months. AARP in September named the organization as the nation's top employer for older workers, and Fortune magazine in January recognized Scripps as a best place to work, the fourth consecutive year that the organization made the list.

Path to a rebound

Buzachero began his HR career as an employment manager for the organization that eventually became Tenet Health. His first major break was when he became HR director for a new hospital—an opportunity that Buzachero "jumped at," despite being the back-up choice for the job—which kickstarted a path that took Buzachero across several major organizations.

When Scripps came calling in 2001, Buzachero was serving as special assistant to the CEO of Providence Health System. Buzachero deliberated for six months before making the move; at the time, Scripps was coping with operating losses, unexpected executive transition, and limited cash-on-hand.

After taking his new role, Buzachero rapidly mapped out several discrete objectives that have become organizational pillars and led HRE to dub him "the turnaround kid." Beginning in 2001, Buzachero:

  • Instituted an annual workforce strategic plan, polling organizational leaders on strengths and weaknesses;
  • Reduced Scripps' dependence on temporary nurses, who in 2001 represented 20% of all Scripps RNs but today account for just 8%, saving more than $100 million in labor costs and leading to greater stability;
  • Developed a new nurse compensation strategy, with pay adjustments every six months and bonuses for patient satisfaction, helping cut RN turnover from 25% in 2002 to 8.6% in 2010;
  • Created the Scripps Employee One Hundred, a program that allows high-performing rank-and-file staff to have candid meetings with the CEO and other senior executives; and
  • Adopted an employee engagement survey across the organization, which found that 88% of Scripps employees in 2010 found the company was a great place to work, up from 58% in 2002.

Ongoing commitment to innovation

Buzachero is rarely without his trademark black notebook, which helps him jot down ideas and capture staff feedback in the moment. "I’m constantly looking for ideas, opportunities and ways we can make a difference and create value," according to Buzachero. "I encourage my team to listen closely to what our employees tell us they want, and then we design benefits and programs that meet their needs for their entire life cycle."

Meanwhile, Scripps CEO Chris Van Gorder credits Buzachero for building out the organization's internal education opportunities, helping Scripps become "a career destination for many of our employees" (Shelly, HRE Online, 10/2; Frasch, HRE Online, "The Leaderboard," 10/5; Scripps Health release, 10/6).

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