Early in his career, Richard Biering, senior deployment leader in organizational effectiveness and transformation, worked in the retail industry. But when his mother was hospitalized, he became interested in health care. Richard wanted to work in an environment where his human resources (HR) expertise directly or indirectly provided service to the community. At Akron Children’s, he’s achieved that goal through the training and development he prepares and leads, as well as the tuition assistance program he manages, an employee benefit that has tripled in usage the past 14 years.
On June 28, Richard retires after 14 years at Children’s. He plans to tackle home improvement projects, remain active on his homeowners’ association board and explore new options. Beyond that, Richard looks forward to spending unstructured days with his wife, Janet, and family, enjoying whatever comes his way.
What brought you to Children’s?
I worked at a large health system and wanted to move to a more community-focused one. I heard about a training and development opening at Children’s and applied. Ruth Swan, HR director at that time, interviewed me and was ready to hire me. However, the former training and development director came back and stayed another year before leaving again. Ruth asked if I was still interested, and I definitely was, so she hired me.
Have you always worked in the same department and role?
My title has changed over the years, but the job has mostly been the same. At Children’s, I’ve been able to take things in my skill set and create new programs around training and organizational development. The way we train has changed, too. We offer many more online training programs, something that didn’t exist 5 years ago. The educational assistance program has also grown as more employees use this benefit.
What have your biggest contributions been while here?
I’m proud that I was able to get support from Bill Considine, CEO Emeritus, to increase Children’s educational assistance benefit up to its current level of $5,250 a year, the maximum tax-free amount allowed under IRS regulations. In the 14 years since the benefit amount increased, the number of employees participating and our total expenditures per year has tripled. It’s been a great help to our employees, allowing them to advance their careers and making college an option for employees who couldn’t afford it.
How has Akron Children’s changed since you started here?
We’re more specialized, which benefits our patients and hospital. With specialization comes the possibility of decreased collaboration across professions and departments, though. We need to keep on guard so we communicate more to maintain our team-based culture.
What gave you the most satisfaction at work?
I especially enjoyed working with the quality department on the Just Culture and Error Prevention initiatives, which have created a strong safety culture at Children’s. Both are important to our patients, their families and our employees.
What’s your most memorable moment at Akron Children’s?
I’ve particularly enjoyed the Kids Are #1 Run and Family Fun Day which runs through the historic Glendale Cemetery.
What do you look forward to the most in retirement?
Our back porch is being converted to a four-seasons room. I’m looking forward to sitting out there with Janet on a warm summer’s evening. Beyond that, I’ll see what comes my way, although it’s not likely I’ll sit still for long.
What’s your idea of a perfect day?
Lots of sunshine and the freedom to let the day take me wherever it goes. We live on a hike and bike trail where it’s easy to go for a long walk or run. I’ll let my feet carry me wherever they want to go, as far as they want to go.
Do you have any advice for people just starting at Children’s?
Leave time in your busy schedule to participate in a Children’s event or program outside of your job so you meet other people and do fun things. It’s one of the things that make working here more than just a job.
What music do you like? Where and how do you listen to it?
New wave music from the 80s is on my car’s SiriusXM radio. Around the house, I’ll stream the modern adult alternative Pandora station on my phone.
What’s the last movie you saw?
“Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation”
What do you like to do when you’re not at work?
Working on my 1936 Oldsmobile antique car, doing yard and house projects and going anywhere with Janet