Employee Engagement Action Plans - Showcasing CHaD's Pediatric Specialties
In an effort to improve employee engagement, Dartmouth-Hitchcock conducted an Employee Engagement Survey last year to measure the relationship between the organization and its employees, to better understand what matters to employees and how improvements can be made at the local and organizational level.
In this series, we are highlighting departments who are successfully executing against their follow-up action plans from the Employee Engagement Survey results. Children's Hospital at Dartmouth-Hitchcock's (CHaD's) Pediatric Specialties is featured in this article and is comprised of fifteen individual specialty sections. D-H Today interviewed Ericka Bergeron, RN, BSN, nurse manager, Jim Judd, MA, Operations Practice Manager, and Jill Grodan, MBA, practice manager, Business and Finance, about their engagement action planning success.
What is your department/team focused on in your action plan?
Bergeron: For our nursing staff, we identified five areas to work on. The first is recognition—it is easy to say ‘thank you’ every once in a while, but being recognized and feeling valued consistently is important. The next area is incentives—things like good attendance and positive attitudes should be celebrated, and we want to reward people who are consistently going above and beyond. Another area is to have time to do something fun together as a group — like hosting a potluck lunch, having staff yoga sessions, things that give our team time to connect. Another area is communication, not just in our peer groups, but having nursing staff connect with secretaries and providers, and having a whole loop of communication. The last area is establishing a shared governance group where we have both staff and leadership working together to solve problems.
Judd: Right now, one of my responsibilities is overseeing the outpatient secretaries and Ericka focuses on the nurses, but we collaborate all the time to make sure we are on the same page. Interestingly, even with this delineation of the responsibilities of each group, we found many items in the engagement survey spanned both nursing and secretaries, as well as leadership. This has allowed us to work together to address the issues.
Grodan: Jim and Ericka handle most all of the work on the outpatient side. I collaborate with them often and contribute financial, business and data analytic knowledge and perspectives to help make informed decisions and to aid in implementing plans. In my role, I work with inpatient teams, and in the business, data analysis, and finance and project support needs of the service line. On the inpatient side, the nurses and providers are working on action plans. They have weekly meetings with their teams and do a good job of rounding and addressing needs as they happen. We also have various monthly inpatient leadership meetings, and in those meetings, we often discuss challenges and brainstorm ways to improve the satisfaction of inpatient staff and providers.
How did you develop and how are you implementing your action plan?
Bergeron: We presented the information during our staff meetings and started to elicit feedback on how we could start to work on this. We knew that what we do here on the ground is good, and we truly value our relationship with our patients.
Judd: One area we have been talking about is what we can do to increase morale across the clinics. We just implemented “Jean Friday” (allowing the team to wear jeans to work on Fridays) and it was a huge success. We are also looking at developing a Professional Development program for the clinical secretaries. Additionally, we are starting a Shared Governance Committee to address concerns or implement other ideas from the providers, nurses, and staff. It is a slow process because we want to implement things correctly, and not change too much at one time. We want to make sure that any changes we make are centered around people who are affected —they need to have a say in what we implement.
Grodan: Jim, Ericka and I come from different work and educational backgrounds, which help us, create a well-rounded leadership team. We remain open and accepting of new perspectives, and ideas, which is great because it allows us to play to our strengths and contribute in new ways we each alone may not think of. We work closely to collaborate, brainstorm, and then act on the ideas and plans we develop as a team.
How is your team responding to the changes being made from the action plan?
Bergeron: There are individuals who have completely embraced it, and are onboard, and others who are still cautiously moving forward. Some are apprehensive of the shared governance group—they want to know what the value is and how it would impact their daily work.
Judd: I’ve heard nothing but positive feedback. As s a leadership team, we’ve been together for a little over a year, and we collaborate really well. Our belief is by allowing people to participate in changes that affect them, this creates a more collaborative environment, which in turn allows better communication and this appears to be happening.
Bergeron: Not only are we a strong leadership team that works really well together, we know each other’s strengths, and we all support each other. As the nursing leaders, I rely on a complete leadership team to enhance the entire clinic. I think that it starts with us as strong role models—if we’re a strong leadership team, our department will be strong, too.
Grodan: We tackle the action plan, the same way we tackle many projects within our sections and service line. We work closely, and although we each have individual responsibilities within our particular positions, we own many things, like those within the action plan as a collective team. Egos do not belong here. It is not a “here this is your area, you deal with it.” Instead, it is more like “how can WE address the needs of the providers and staff?” or an offer to help lend our expertise if needed. We make the time to sit and collaborate, brainstorm ideas, concerns and perspectives. Jim and I have met with all of the secretaries, to learn about the work they do day to day. We know what their job descriptions are, but that does not always mean we know everything they are working on. Ericka has nursing staff who come by her office frequently throughout the day, and she rounds with her staff daily. We all feel like it is important to recognize and understand the work everyone does. This helps to acknowledge their contributions to our sections. We plan to round as a leadership team as well in the near future to check in and be present and available to staff. We all have an open door, and many staff stop in, but we felt like rounding would be a more proactive approach to engage with all of our staff on a routine basis.
How are you measuring success?
Bergeron: Formally, we’ll be doing more surveys, which will have more official data. In December, we did the “pebbles in your shoe” exercise. Staff wrote down stuff they have to deal with that make daily work more difficult, little things, not big boulders, things that just nag at you. So at our last staff meeting, I asked people what their pebbles were. Each person had to rate their pebble—was it local, a service line, or an organizational issue? I have a whole stack of these pebbles now, and will take them to the shared governance group who will prioritize them and develop a strategic path for moving forward.
Judd: Just based on the level of conversations that are happening now and the ideas people are bring to us. A lot more people are stopping by my office, and there is a lot more communication going on across the clinics. Communication is where everything starts. We want everyone to feel comfortable coming to us with problems or suggestions. Participation may not always be positive, but at least conversations are happening. That’s what we’re looking at as far as a measure of success. If people want to be engaged, normally they will start or participate in conversation that affect them. A month into this, the conversations are beginning to happen and that is really the foundation of this work.
Grodan: As Ericka and Jim have mentioned, employee retention and engagement are a big part of it. Not all measures will be reportable metrics but serve as important indicators of success in improving employee engagement and morale. Are they contributing ideas? Do they smile and say hello in the hallway and help to create a warm and friendly atmosphere for patients and their colleagues? If their body language is the opposite and they walk around quiet, heads down, no eye contact or hello that is not a good sign things are moving in the right direction. We are always looking for ways to improve the quality of our patient care and experience and everything ties together because motivated, happy, engaged staff and providers are going to go the extra mile, and reach further to continue to improve and innovate. With those innovations come improvements in many different areas. You will see score improvements in quality measures and on patient and staff surveys, so those will also be part of our measures of success.
How are you going to sustain those changes?
Bergeron: We have a bulletin board outside of my office that we will be putting up a scorecard with different initiatives so that people can see a topic, where we are with it and all of the factors within it. The whole board will be projects we are doing. In Pediatric Specialties, we work closely together, and we are a cohesive unit. We have separate buckets of responsibility, but we all work together.
Judd: Sustainability falls on us as a leadership team. If we do not continue to model and have or seek out these conversations, this will all fall by the wayside.
Grodan: We are committed to making this successful and in building professional development opportunities for all staff, and learning more about resources, we can bring into the mix. We continue to check in on things we have in motion, and even on those things that we have already instituted. We continue to look at things we can tweak, change, or improve. We want happy, successful staff and providers. Every one of us, in every role here, works towards providing the best care to our patients every day, but we know that it does not mean we cannot have a friendly and fun work environment. As Jim and Ericka have mentioned, some of the ideas we have come up with may be small in scale, but little things can go a long way to improving staff morale, and the overall work environment. This is pediatrics after all, we want happy staff, who come to work smiling and bring that welcoming, and warm environment to our patients. That becomes a win-win for everyone.