Hospice News, Jet Health HR VP Massacci: Employee Engagement a Top Hospice Priority

Jet Health has tapped Jake Massacci to become its vice president of human resources. A military veteran with more than a decade of HR experience under his belt, the Jet Health appointment marks his first entry into the hospice space.

Most recently, he served as director of talent acquisition at HMS/Gainwell Technologies, which employs more than 10,000 people. Previously, he was manager of internal recruiting for EmployBridge, where he oversaw a geographically dispersed team of 12 recruiters. A West Point graduate, he has also held managerial positions in the U.S. Army, overseeing units in both combat and non-combat environments.

Private equity firms SV Health Investors and Health Enterprise Partners partially own Jet Health, which has completed seven acquisitions since the company was established in 2016. As he takes the lead of Jet’s HR operations, Massacci will be charged with integrating scores of new employees from acquired organizations.

Jet Health’s footprint extends across Texas, New Mexico, Colorado and Idaho, with plans for continued expansion through acquisitions and de novos.

Massacci also comes into the role during a time of severe staffing shortages in the health care space, making recruitment and retention strategies critical to a hospice provider’s survival. Hospice News recently spoke with Massacci about the strategies he will implement to attract new workers, keep current employees in their jobs and ease the transitions for staff coming in through acquisitions.

First, can you talk about some of your top priorities as you come into this new role?

My top priority is ensuring that we have timely and effective recruiting for clinical staff, which will then enable the company to effectively serve all of those communities that we cover. Simultaneous with that is communicating the Jet Health culture to the market, as well as to those agencies that we serve — making that employee value proposition at the forefront of everything that we’re that we’re putting out both to the community, and to the agencies that we’re bringing on board.

Both of these priorities are really all about engagement with two audiences, one that already works for you and one that as of yet does not. In all likelihood as we look toward the acquisition of these other organizations, we’re going to also have to put processes in place to effectively support what our agencies need. That’s going to require a lot of work, especially making sure that those processes are refined.

This is your first entry into the hospice space. You previously worked in other fields. What has your experience been coming into this field?

From my perspective, anyone who enters this space has to have a servant’s heart and be able to effectively do what our staff does every day. Those are the kinds of people that I’ve surrounded myself with, during my entire career, both in the military and in the private sector. Those are the kind of people you want to be around.

I really did think that I understood what it meant to serve. I think it’s been very humbling. As you can imagine, there are a million challenges out there for these folks. Every day, they put their issues aside. They’re willing to help patients and families during the most difficult time that I can imagine. There isn’t a better calling. From my perspective, it’s not really another job on the resume. It really is a calling.

Of course, many providers have said that workforce shortages and high turnover have gotten worse during the pandemic. Has Jet Health experienced these issues?

Nearly everyone has experienced these issues recently. It’s a challenging time, but it’s also not unique. I’ve had to deal with this before in my career, and every company has to wrestle with an effective strategy to address it. Being able to tell your story, widening your audience — once we can do that effectively, we can really attract and retain the folks that want to be in the space.

How would you characterize your approach to recruitment and retention?

Engagement of both the employee and the candidate are my top priorities. The retention aspect of it and the recruitment aspect go hand in hand. Retention is really about ensuring you treat people the way they want to be treated, that you’re giving them dignity and respect in the workplace. We ask our staff to do that with their patients, and so employers should be willing to do that for their employees as well. You have to be able to do that effectively, and then tell that story.

If you’re able to tell that story effectively as an employer, it makes the job of finding the right people for the right positions that much easier. If you can’t do that, employees will find another job elsewhere. If you can do it, they’ll find fulfillment in what they’re doing. They’ll stay with you. You have to be able to engage those audiences, or you’re going to struggle no matter what. That is especially true during a time where there is this workforce shortage like we’re currently experiencing,

You alluded to Jet Health’s M&A activity. What’s your strategy for integrating employees from acquired companies?

It really comes down to making sure that you have that framework. The plan is only as effective as the first contact, if you will. Ihe first contact is going to be when we sit down with those employees on day one and say, ‘We just acquired you as an organization.’ Have that plan in place and then be able to adjust it as those employees bring issues that you might not have expected. I think we can cover all the issues that we do expect and have a plan ready to roll out and effectively communicate that to those employees. When you can’t do that. It goes very poorly.

What do you see as the biggest challenges ahead of you as you take on human resources at a hospice company?

Employees that work in this space have to show up at a very difficult time in the lives of these individuals. It’s something that is very difficult to deal with. As a veteran, I can very intimately talk about the struggles that soldiers have with very similar kinds of situations, obviously not the same.

I think the biggest challenge for really anyone in the hospice space is being able to provide those folks with the necessary tools to be able to deal with all the things that they see that are going to make an impact on their lives, whether or not they want to admit it.

You have to be compassionate. Making sure that they have those resources is my responsibility, and it’s going to be a challenge to ensure that they have all the resources that they need to be able to get that job done.

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