Recognition done right: Best practices at Michigan Medicine

March 8, 2018  //  FOUND IN: Strategy & Leadership,

It’s National Recognition Month, a time to encourage and celebrate the hard work and dedication of faculty and staff across Michigan Medicine.

Headlines recently caught up with five units and departments who take recognition to heart and emphasize saying “thank you” to their employees in thoughtful, fun and creative ways.

From “Caught in the Act” awards to monthly themed events, these departments have created some best practices that can help you take recognition to the next level in your area of the organization!

Chelsea Health Center

Best practice: Encourage employees to hand out “Caught in the Act” awards.

How they do it: These awards are exactly what they sound like. If a colleague sees a faculty or staff member performing a good deed, they complete a “Caught in the Act” award — which is a recognition slip that’s easy to carry around — and place it in a drawing bin.

It’s an honor just to receive a slip, but those who do have the chance to win monthly prizes from the health center’s leadership team.

“At the end of each month, we draw a winner. Whoever is chosen earns a prize and gets recognized on a bulletin board located by our staff lounge where they can tell people a little bit about themselves,” said Marla Slocum-Casper, the ambulatory care administrative manager who is actively engaged in engagement efforts led by an employee recognition committee. “It’s a fun way for colleagues to recognize one another, learn about each other and for people to get acknowledged for the incredible work they do.”

Slocum-Casper said the awards have brought the team together and created a welcoming atmosphere that rubs off on patients and visitors, as well: “When employees feel valued and welcomed, they in turn make their patients feel valued and welcomed. It’s a win-win for everyone.”

Transplant Center

Best practice: Expose team members to various jobs performed by others in the department

How they do it: The Transplant Center leadership team recognizes the important role everyone plays — that’s why they created a program called “Walk in My Shoes.” Individuals are teamed up with someone who holds a different job, and they shadow each other for a day.

“This program has two main functions,” said Crystal Griffin, a financial manager who assists with the center’s engagement programs. “First, by being exposed to the work that other employees do, it allows you to gain respect and recognition for how valuable each and every one is to our team. Our staff understands that we are only successful because of the commitment and dedication of everyone, no matter their role.”

The other function is that the department wants to give employees a chance to grow in their careers.

“We are willing to invest time into helping staff members learn and advance in their roles here,” Griffin said. “If they want to change paths, we give them an opportunity to look at other positions and decide if that is best for them in the future.”

Health Information Technology & Services

Best practice: Promote fun, fun, fun!

How they do it: HITS created an events team made up of staff members who volunteer to plan, organize and execute major events for all HITS staff. The focus of these events is to foster a sense community across the organization — with the goal of providing team members with fun opportunities to interact with a wider spectrum of HITS staff beyond their individual team or department.

The team plans all sorts of activities, from a Detroit Tigers baseball game to cook-offs, breakfasts and even Olympic-style office activities (including ID-card curling, 100-word dashes, garbage can basketball, and more).

“All of our activities help build team camaraderie,” said Sue Boucher, who works with Chuck Marshall as events team co-leads. “And we go out of our way to make sure we have a wide range of events — ensuring that we cover everyone’s interests and give everyone something they will enjoy.”

Logistics and Support Services

Best practice: Support employees’ physical well-being so that they can perform jobs to the best of their ability

How they do it: The department — formerly known as Materiel Services — promotes a culture of wellness among their employees.

“Many of our staff work in physically demanding jobs, from patient equipment to valet to the mail room,” said Gail Spaulding, an administrative assistant who oversees many of the engagement activities. “So the department goes above and beyond to recognize our employees for taking on these demanding tasks and gives them the resources they need to carry out their jobs well.”

One event, for example, stands out: “We brought in tables for employees to get massages,” Spaulding said. “The massages were available during every shift, including overnight. We just really wanted to show employees that we recognized how physically challenging their work can be.”

The department also promotes MHealthy and the university’s emphasis on well-being: “We’ve provided exercise demonstrations to our staff and held a raffle for individuals who watched a video aimed at helping employees become tobacco-free,” Spaulding said. “If our employees are healthy, we know they will find as much success as possible at Michigan Medicine.”

Department of Urology

Best practice: Create themed days where faculty, staff can partake and get creative

How they do it: Every month, Tasha Garwood and the 10 other members of the urology employee recognition committee think of ways to give colleagues the chance to have fun. Often, that means they come up with a theme day that gives people an opportunity to get out of their “normal” work gear and into more creative outfits.

For instance, the department has held a Spirit Day, where employees wore U-M gear to work. There has also been a Hawaiian Day, ugly sweater competition, Chinese New Year celebration and even a hot chocolate bar.

“The events and special days give employees a chance to express themselves and have something fun to talk about,” Garwood said. “And when we’re having fun and working together, it rubs off on the work we’re doing — allowing us to provide the best care and experience possible to patients.”