How one hospital’s staff engagement survey boosts workforce development – and patient care

Duncan Regional Hospital uses its annual team member engagement survey to help workers enhance their workplace and careers, resulting in higher satisfaction for staff and patients.
By Bill Siwicki
12:09 PM
How one hospital’s staff engagement survey boosts workforce development – and patient care

Duncan Regional Hospital in Duncan, Oklahoma, is serious about workforce development, and handles it in a way that is designed to enhance patient care and patient satisfaction.

The hospital has a process each spring that enables it to develop and grow its workforce in a positive way. The process allows all staff to participate in creating and taking ownership in their own workplace experience.

Team member engagement survey

The process gives employees a voice – and management says it listens. This is the hospital’s annual team member engagement survey, which is 10 years old. The provider organization uses an outside vendor and the process is entirely electronic. It runs the survey for a little over two weeks at the end of each fiscal year. All team members receive the survey through their company email address.

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Team members receive the results for their departments and assist in implementation of action plans to improve the environment based on the feedback from the entire department.

“We feel that a positive workplace develops into low turnover, great quality outcomes and very satisfied patients,” said Sheila Crissman, director, organizational development and compliance, at Duncan Regional Hospital.

The survey results enable staff to develop goals, organizationally and departmentally. The results of the survey allow for action planning in order to drive team member engagement and lower turnover. Lower turnover equates to better quality outcomes and satisfied team members, Crissman said.

Lower turnover indicates team members are happy because they are staying and they become more proficient in policies and skills, she added. It also allows for better staffing and less overtime, which contributes to the bottom line, she stated.

"We feel that a positive workplace develops into low turnover, great quality outcomes and very satisfied patients."

Sheila Crissman, Duncan Regional Hospital

“Happy workers translate into happy patients and physicians,” she said. “This is all evident in our quality outcomes and our patient experience scores.”

Examples of survey questions

The following are some examples of questions on the survey:

  • “I benefit from a one-on-one relationship with the person I report to.” This provides management with insight into the relationship leaders have with their staff. The provider organization believes in team member rounding with a purpose and having one-on-one interaction with staff. This question helps to monitor that progress.
  • “Communication among the people I work with at this organization is never a problem.” This question allows for more open dialogue on where communication is an issue. If this score requires action planning in a department, the opportunity to discuss whether the issue is within the department or between departments is provided. Processes could be improved and in turn can improve any patient handoff communication or communication necessary to conduct the needs of the business.
  • “The people I work with treat each other with respect.” Management uses this question to open up dialogue. It allows staff to discuss how they feel valued by interactions within the department or between departments.
  • “We have guest service class quarterly and it is usually developed and presented by the patient relations coordinator and human resources,” Crissman explained. “The results from these questions drive, to some degree, the content and subject matter for the classes. The classes are mandatory and everyone attends. This allows all team members to receive the same message and network among each other as well.”

Further, the CEO has biannual town hall meetings and the results of these scores influence his message, to some degree, she added.

Outcome of the most recent survey

The outcome of the last annual team member engagement survey was in the top 75th percentile and management was very pleased. But the reason for the survey is to gather information for improvement.

“We did improve from the previous year, but that just tells us we are on the right track to creating a more positive environment for our team,” Crissman said. “The survey told us that our opportunities for improvement are with better relationships among the team and better teamwork between departments.”

Leaders discovered better communication among various departments has been an issue and action planning has been implemented for specific issues, she added. Action planning includes the Organization Development Council as well as the organization’s LEAN council.

“These councils took the information garnered and created plans from an organizational aspect to address the concerns,” Crissman explained. “The leaders of each department did the same with the help of their staff in implementing their own performance improvement plans.”

The survey prior to the most recent was indicative of high-level turnover (recent long-term leaders who retired). It was also reflective of new systems that were implemented.

Implementing a rapid response

“After receiving those results, we realized, upon speaking to staff, the toll that these changes took on our workforce,” Crissman recalled. “Rapid response was implemented in the careful transition of roles in those key departments and further communication and front-line staff involvement and feedback was taken into account for action planning. The scores in the most recent survey increased; action also was reflected in some of our area’s patient experience survey scores.”

Team member engagement is something that is ongoing; it is not annual, Crissman added.

“We use the survey as a tool to measure how we are doing the entire year, but it comes from a culture of values, mission and compassion,” she concluded. “This is from the top down. The survey provides us with direction in order to maintain the environment that our team members enjoy and the quality excellence that our patients deserve.”

Twitter: @SiwickiHealthIT
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