Every day, we at the Experience Innovation Network and our partners in medical, nursing, and experience improvement leadership work with frontline healthcare workers who are skeptical that real change is possible. Some have earned this skepticism over years of diligent but frustrated effort. Some, though, come to it because they perceive a disconnect between what senior executives say in making commitments to teamwork and shared purpose, and how those same executives act when making decisions that affect frontline workers. Whether justified or not, those perceptions of “us versus them” that often exist between frontline workers and senior executives can thwart an organization’s efforts to drive meaningful improvement.
We recently came across two groups of hospital leaders who are building culture and connection from the ground up:
Parkland Health and Hospital System raises its minimum wage.
A recent article in Modern Healthcare described a plan at Parkland Health to raise minimum wage from $8.78 to $10.25 an hour. The boost is funded from the executive bonus pool at a cost of $350,000, less than a full quarter’s worth of the potential executive bonus. This raise represents a significant increase for workers in environmental services (EVS), food service, linen service, etc., which, in turn, is likely to increase morale, and possibly give Parkland a leg up in hiring workers with more experience or who are better prepared to fulfill the needs of patients and families with empathy and passion.
Annie Penn Hospital president works side-by-side with frontline staff.
At last month’s Empathy + Innovation Summit, President of Annie Penn Hospital and EVP of Cone Health Mickey Foster described how his leadership rounds include performing all functions of the hospital staff (apart from those for which he is not clinically qualified) – including delivering meals and changing bed linens. “Let me tell you,” he said, “when the staff sees the president changing linens, it changes things.” This and other changes have helped propel Annie Penn from the 33rd to the 99th percentile in employee engagement – boosting core measures and reducing safety incidents to near zero in the process.
Leadership takes many forms. Stories that inspire physicians and staff to bring their best skills and attitudes to work, policies that support resiliency and promote teamwork, even a meaningful mission, vision and values are all part of successfully leading an organization to create the ideal human experience. But sometimes actions speak louder than words. The actions above speak volumes.