Put some passion in your workplace
February 17, 2011
At our annual shareholder meeting last week, I talked with our medical group about a period in my work life that I’ll never forget. I became the chief of the Bainbridge Island clinic when it opened in 1987, and something about that time has stayed with me all these years. We provided great care for our patients, and we laughed a lot too. Work was fun. And on some level I have been trying to recapture that experience ever since.
I realize now it was the first time I really understood how it felt to be on a team where everyone was truly inspired to work together. We all want and deserve to feel this way about work. Yet it doesn’t just happen. It takes some thought, some new habits. And just as this great feeling was uniquely ours at Bainbridge all those years ago, it can be uniquely yours at Lidgerwood Primary Care, in Orthopedic Surgery at Tacoma Medical Center, or in Behavioral Health Services.
In the last few years we’ve worked incredibly hard to master new tools for increasing quality while decreasing costs. We’ve focused on improving processes and achieving greater alignment. And even with enormous pressure on everyone, we have seen steady improvement in our Gallup staff engagement survey scores.
I see this as a sign that we are making some progress in our work environments. That’s why I’m so excited to see us forge deeper connections with each other. A great workplace will challenge your head and connect with your heart.
The Group Health strategic plan calls for continued improvement in our Gallup scores, but the real point is to work to start with our values and take care of each other—not just move the numbers. We’re all responsible in some part for building the workplaces we want and deserve. If we can do this, our Gallup numbers will take care of themselves.
Let’s take a look at some summary information from our 2010 Gallup survey—not because it is perfect or prescriptive—but because it’s the best tool we have for stimulating ongoing conversations about our workplaces.
GHP had highest agreement with these statements:
- My coworkers are committed to quality work
- This last year, I have had opportunities at work to learn and grow
GHP had the most improvement in agreement with:
- There is someone at work who encourages my development
- I have a best friend at work
GHP agreement decreased for these statements
- At work my opinions seem to count.
- I have the materials and equipment I need to do my work right.
There is value in comparing our own engagement trends to national data about healthcare organizations. Here’s one measure I feel amazing about: within GHP our mean score for “My coworkers are committed to quality work” was in the 99th percentile compared to Gallup’s database of other healthcare companies.
We’ve had tremendous third-party quality recognition this year that bears this out. I can’t thank you enough for bringing your best to your patients, and for modeling quality care for each other and for the nation.
Three measures GHP watches closely
There are three survey questions that I have paid very close attention to over the years. The way we answer these questions is tied to our ability to be the best place to get care and the best place to work.
Though we should all take pride in how much we've moved the numbers, it's no where near good enough. I am asking what will it take for us to get to 100 percent for these questions?
- I would recommend Group Health as a place to get care. Since we started asking if you’d recommend Group Health to a close friend, the percentage of GHP staff who answered “agree” or “strongly agree” has increased from 65 to 93 percent.
- I recommend Group Health as a good place to work. Since we started asking this question, the percentage of GHP staff who answered “agree” or “strongly agree” has increased from 43 to 83 percent.
- I have the right amount of influence over the staff who support my care of patients. For many years this was our lowest scoring area. The percentage of GHP staff who answered “agree” or “strongly agree” when asked about their ability to influence support staff has increased from 31 to 53 percent since 2004, the first year we asked the question (note the question wording changed slightly beginning in 2009).
Bottom line: more respect for front line opinions
Front line medical staff are closest to the work, and you are telling us through Gallup that your opinions are not being heard. We can and must do better at seeking and respecting front-line input, because our ability to adapt to change depends on it. An environment that not only accepts, but actually embraces change can only exist where there is respect for people. And respect can come to life in many ways—from formal recognition, to remembering to say thanks, to simply listening without rushing to judgment.
I strongly urge you to take advantage of the impact plan training we’ve set up for managers, chiefs and medical leaders. Building the plan with staff is a respectful action in itself. The Gallup data is a starting point but the ongoing conversation is up to you. What satisfies you, motivates you, or makes you want to tell your friends and family about your day? Do you know how your co-workers would answer these questions? Talk to each other to learn from each other.
- | 2011
- | 2010
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