Empower hospital staff to boost workplace satisfaction

Seven years ago, when we asked our staff whether they "would recommend Windsor Regional Hospital as a place for their friends and family to work," we got an answer that made us gulp. Sixty percent of our staff answered in the negative.

It is not a favorable culture if people are embarrassed to admit where they work. This is especially true for hospitals, where staff cares for the patients that come through your doors. At Windsor Regional, we knew the direct relationship between staff satisfaction and patient satisfaction; they feed off each other. Happy staff results in happy patients. Happier patients result in happier staff.

It was one of those moments--if we did not want the answer then we should not have asked the question. Clearly, whether consciously or subconsciously, we knew what answer we were going to receive. We now had to determine why staff responded so negatively, come up with strategies to improve their responses and implement those strategies.

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First, we had to engage all of the hospital staff. We had to make it clear that we heard their answer loud and clear, we wanted to change their answer and we needed their help to do so. We had to empower our workers.

We also recognized we could not change things overnight. It did not take one night to get to those negative responses. However, we wanted the positive change to occur much faster than the decline.

So we created a volunteer committee made up of a wide range of front-line staff, and empowered them to not only recommend changes to their work environment but also have the authority to implement the recommendations.

This committee continued to engage front-line staff throughout the process. They asked staff what changes they wanted to see happen that would make them proud of where they worked, enjoy coming to work and recommend our hospital as a workplace for friends and family.

The committee then created a list of the ideas, ranked them in priority, developed a plan and budget to implement the ideas, discussed with administration and the Board of Directors, and got approval to proceed. Again, speed was of the essence. If we delayed our reaction to the results of the committee's efforts, the old comment "See, it stalls at management and never gets implemented" would come back.

Over the last seven years, the positive workplace satisfaction responses continue to rise. In fact, this past year, in the face of worldwide economic decline that has greatly impacted our automotive-based region and our hospital, the answer to the original question reached its highest level: Eighty-six percent of the staff responded positively when asked whether they "would recommend Windsor Regional Hospital as a place for their friends and family to work." In addition, our patient satisfaction scores also hit their highest levels ever.

But we cannot rest on our laurels. To this day we utilize a program called Genius Lab, in which staff can provide ideas every minute of the day on positive changes that can be made to their work environment to benefit not only themselves and their team members but also the patients they serve. The emails and ideas go directly to me. We then try to implement these ideas as fast as possible and reward the staff with recognition across the system for coming up with the idea, as well as a small token of appreciation, such as a gift card to a local restaurant.

How does your hospital promote staff satisfaction?

David Musyj is the President and CEO of Windsor Regional Hospital in Ontario, Canada. Under his leadership, Windsor Regional Hospital has won numerous local, provincial, national and international awards, including more 36 Leading Practices and 10 Innovation Awards at Ontario Hospital Association International conferences, and was recently the first Canadian Hospital to present at the prestigious Mayo Clinic.

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