5 Keys to Employee Retention for Onsite Health Clinics

A Conversation with Kate McEachern

I had the opportunity to chat with Kate McEachern, Director of Human Resources for Marathon Health, and she shared how to retain employees for employer-based clinics like Marathon Health.

Chad Harrington
29 January 2016

Kate McEachern | Image Credit: Marathon Health

Kate McEachern Image Credit: Marathon Health

Worksite health clinics are a relatively new concept in the United States, but they’re experiencing explosive growth and Marathon Health is a pioneer.

It’s vital to recruit for the long haul in healthcare, and Marathon Health’s strategy for retaining top talent is telling their story about quality care with boldness, including touting a model that allows clinicians to practice the type of healthcare that drew them to medicine in the first place.

“I can’t believe there’s a company like this,” Kate McEachern says candidates tell her on a regular basis.


McEachern shared what makes them successful as a company in recruitment and retention of quality talent (details below):

  1. Their story
  2. 90 percent employee satisfaction
  3. Learning management program
  4. Making room for growth
  5. High quality primary care and coaching

Among the other worksite-health providers, Marathon Health focuses more on health coaching and primary care, while many others focus on occupational care.

Company profile of Marathon Health:

  • Est. 2005
  • They’re in 38 states
  • With over 145 health centers

McEachern’s main goal as the Director of Human Resources for Marathon health is this:

“People. Absolutely, people are the differentiator for our company. What that means is it’s finding the right people, it’s engaging them, it’s growing them, and it’s retaining them.”

How Marathon Health Attracts Talent

“We have a great story to tell. We came to business in 2005. I came to the company in 2011, so I’m coming onto my fifth year. It was the mission to inspire people to improve their health that really attracted me, and really what attracts other people to Marathon Health. I would call it our ‘secret sauce,’ gluing great people together to do great work.



“Once we open the door to our story, people say, ‘I can’t believe your company exists. I can’t believe—this is too good to be true.’ We hear that quite often, even through our whole on-boarding cycle in which people come here to Vermont, they’ll spend a week with us, and they still come out in between sessions saying, ‘This really is true; this is happening. This is a great company.’”

How Marathon Solves Retention Challenges

“We are in a high growth phase and we are recruiting for very specialized positions. Our expectation is that the clinicians we hire will shift from a traditional mode of fixing people, the treat ‘em and street ‘em approach that is so common, and really help people change the way they think about their own health and healthcare. The requirement that a clinical person is both clinically sound and has the qualities of empathy and compassion puts a lot of pressure on the recruiters to find these extraordinary individuals. In rare cases, people who believe they want this type of change find it is not a match for them. In those cases we move swiftly to provide additional training or other alternatives to practicing medicine at Marathon Health.”

Internal Promotions Are Clutch for Retaining Talent

McEachern: “We’ve heard loud and clear that people want to know,

Image credit: Marathon Health

Image credit: Marathon Health

  • What opportunities do I have to grow?
  • What resources do I have? and
  • How do I get there?

“We’re in build mode with those areas. So first and foremost, for career-pathing, we have our learn management system that we implemented last year, and that is a full library that addresses the competencies we expect, as well as the clinical areas that we give the greatest weight on.

“Regarding our growth plan and where we are going, if we have rock stars and they are practicing at a clinic as a nurse practitioner, we’ll step back and say, Where can their leadership skills be used? When we look at the blue sky and say, ‘Where are we going?’ we really want to promote from within, we really want to see where we can plug and play with individuals we currently have.” 

The Four-Legged Stool Approach

The four-legged stool approach is a method McEachern has been using throughout her 20 years of recruitment experience that hits on multiple generations. She explains it in 1 minute here:




The point in this is to make sure they are touching all the places that three generations of the workforce are going to be attracted to.

The four legs of her healthcare recruiting stool:

  1. Internet (including job boards and social media)
  2. Print ads (still works for them!)
  3. Directories
  4. Relationships on the ground

She emphasized the key of the fourth-legged stool—to get one leg up in the market (pun intended)—relationships.

This is what I keep hearing all over the place, and why Zendesk started Relate in the first place, which exists “to help you examine, ponder, and hopefully improve the interactions you have with other people whether they’re customers or co-workers, friends or frenemies.”

Top 3 Pieces of Advice for Healthcare Recruiters

  1. Take care of your recruiting team. 
  2. Perfect the candidate experience. 
  3. Implement top technology.


  1. Take care of your recruiting team. “They are your assets. You’ve got to have the right recruiters and you have to take care of them. A lot of times I’m talking to other recruiters and agencies, and they’re overloaded. The req load is too high, so garbage in, garbage out. “
  2. Perfect the candidate experience. “Because it’s so competitive, it’s so important that from first touch point, all the way through onboarding to training to being supported in the field, you better do a really good job. People have a choice in our market, and if our first or second impression doesn’t work, then you’ve lost that person. The most important thing in candidate experience is that they just want to know you’re taking them seriously for the position.”
  3. Implement top technology. “You’ve got to have the right systems in place to manage productivity and efficiency. For us, it’s mandatory that everything is signed-on and integrated. Basically, you’ve got to be able to move quickly and technology supports that.”

Chad Harrington is the Content Director at Relode, the human-powered job posting. He writes on all things hiring. Contact him through email. Follow Relode on Twitter for all blogs and company updates.