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McKesson Medical-Surgical's employee retention rate 'has never been higher or better; our engagement levels are up'

McKesson Medical-Surgical's employee retention rate 'has never been higher or better; our engagement levels are up'


The more than 700 employees who work for McKesson Medical-Surgical Inc. in the Richmond area make sure that thousands of different types of medical supplies, from bandages to exam tables, get delivered to medical practices when needed.

“Distributing supplies to medical centers does not sound high-profile, but it is critical to health care,” said Stanton McComb, president of McKesson Medical-Surgical. “We are a vital part of the health ecosystem.”

“If we can’t deliver those supplies, patient care gets disrupted,” he said.

In the medical supplies business, which relies on everything from information technology specialists to delivery drivers, “expertise and tenure matter,” McComb said.

So one of the company’s biggest challenges is recruiting and retaining skilled and experienced employees.

“In the last 18 months as unemployment levels have continued to fall to record low levels, I would say the competitive nature of the labor markets has proven to be a challenge,” McComb said.

“Our employees, just like customers, have choices,” he said. “Whether we are talking about IT professionals, or delivery professionals, labor markets are competitive.”

At the same time, “we place a high value on diversity,” McComb said. “Not just racial and gender diversity, but background diversity.”

“That has been a challenge that we have been focused on for the last 24 months,” he said. “What we have been trying to do is understand the needs of these employees; understand what makes them happy and engaged and motivated.

Financial compensation is important, but it is not the only thing that matters, McComb said. Employees “like to be working on something that is meaningful.”

McKesson Medical-Surgical is an affiliate of the McKesson Corp, a San Francisco-based Fortune 500 company. The medical-surgical division, which employs about 8,000 people nationwide, is a business-to-business company, meaning it does not sell consumer products but serves other businesses, so one of its challenges is getting its name out there to potential staffers, said Laura Schwertz, senior vice president for human resources.

“Our purpose is patient care and community, so the purpose of our organization is really important to people, and it is really important to people inside the organization,” Schwertz said

McComb said the company has been investing millions of dollars in new technology, including office collaboration tools and video conferencing, as well as training programs.

Data science is becoming increasingly important in the management of complex logistics systems and McComb said McKesson is trying to educate everyone on its staff on how to use it in their work.

“Career development keeps people engaged,” he said.

“Right now, our retention rate has never been higher or better,” he said. “Our engagement levels are up, based on employee opinion surveys.”

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