Recognition done right: Best practices at Michigan Medicine

March 23, 2017  //  FOUND IN: Our Employees,

Each year, the organization receives feedback directly from staff members through the employee engagement survey. The feedback is invaluable, as leadership teams work hard to improve upon the organization’s strengths and address any employee concerns.

In fact, one concern identified in this year’s survey was that employees want more recognition from their supervisors and managers.

As part of National Recognition Month, Headlines is recognizing three Michigan Medicine departments who took this feedback to heart and improved their marks in engagement on the most recent survey.

From creating an Employee of the Quarter program to breaking down barriers to help employees thrive, these departments have created some best practices that may help raise the bar in your unit!

Orthopaedic Surgery, South Main Clinic

Best practice: Increasing time committed to employee recognition

How it works: At each staff meeting, a block of time is devoted to recognizing the Employee of the Quarter, a new honor implemented by Administrative Manager Amber Lopez.

The team can nominate any colleague they wish for the award. The employee who receives the most nominations is honored at the quarterly meeting, receives a Making a Difference award and has their picture posted near the clinic’s main entrance, accompanied by positive feedback from staff members.

“The program is a great way to single out our employees who are so dedicated to the organization and this team,” Amber said. “And I make sure anyone who receives even a single vote gets their name read aloud at the meeting because that means they’ve done something remarkable to support a teammate.”

Additionally, leadership takes the time to recognize other employees who receive a Making a Difference award, and promotes saying “thank you” by randomly buying candy or other goodies for staff areas.

“We really emphasize creating a culture of ‘thanks’ and pump each other up every day,” Amber said. That culture has been fully embraced, as the unit’s engagement scores rose by 23 percent in the latest survey.

“We’re all busy helping as many patients as possible, but we know that employee satisfaction leads to patient satisfaction.”

CVC Center for Circulatory Support

Best practice: Breaking down barriers to help employees find success

How it works: The leadership team in the Center for Circulatory Support knows that engaging with employees on a personal level makes them feel more invested in their work — and more successful at what they do.

“We wanted to make sure we connected with employees outside of sending a congratulatory email or handing out rewards,” said Bethany Lee-Lehner, the center’s former program manager who led the unit during the 2016 engagement survey. The team’s engagement scores last year jumped by 60 percent, the most in the organization.

“We took the approach that for staff to do great work, leadership needed to break down barriers that impeded performance,” Bethany said. “So I worked hard to listen to their concerns and remove any barriers an employee would face so that they could do their job unencumbered.”

One outcome of these conversations was the creation of a monthly multidisciplinary meeting, where a group works to improve cooperation and communication across all areas of the team.

Additionally, Bethany and her staff focused on ensuring every team member had an appropriate work-life balance.

“We studied appropriate staffing levels to make sure nobody was overworked,” Bethany said. “We also organized the first-ever staff holiday party. When you make it clear that you’re looking out for the best interests of your employees, they will want to work hard for you and your patients.”

Professional Development and Education, Department of Nursing Services

Best practice: Adopting a team-first mentality

How it works: One of the other areas of concern addressed in the engagement survey is that employees felt that there was a lack of collaboration within departments. Sharon L. Smith, Ph.D., director of professional development and education in the Department of Nursing Services, committed to changing that.

“I took that feedback and recommitted myself to acknowledging the role everyone plays in this department,” Sharon said. “Each accolade, recognition or project is now a team award. No matter what position you hold, you play an integral role in our success.”

She takes time at team meetings to have teammates talk about their most recent successes and at least once a week she’ll send out “applause” emails, sharing milestones and accolades her team received. “Every staff member will add on their own personal thoughts and acknowledgements,” Sharon said, “which encourages even more collaboration as people see that their hard work is appreciated.”

These tactics led to a 10 percent increase in the unit’s engagement score on the most recent survey. The positive feedback also pointed to Sharon’s team-first approach away from the hospital.

“Our staff members loved our group outing last year, which was a trip to a Tigers game,” Sharon said. “So we’ve organized another similar event for this year, giving everyone a chance to mingle and meet each other’s families away from the hospital. That really helps boost our morale.”

Do you have best practices you wish to share from your department? Or do you want to recognize a team or employee who makes a difference every day? Share your thoughts by emailing headlines@med.umich.edu!

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