The past year has been challenging for the economy and for business overall. Despite the downturn, some companies have managed to maintain a positive work environment with innovative programs that boost employee morale.
Baptist Health South Florida is one such company.
Baptist Health South Florida is the largest faith-based, not-for-profit healthcare organization in South Florida. Adriene McCoy is assistant vice-president for Human Resources at Baptist Health South Florida.
Monster: Amidst this year's economic challenges, how has your company managed to maintain employee performance and satisfaction?
Adriene McCoy: Baptist Health has continued to invest in people, despite the economic downturn. More than $2 million has been allocated during 2009 for new or enhanced employee programs aimed directly toward improving the employee experience. In addition, our senior leaders are focusing efforts on increased visibility at all levels of the organization.
As part of our assessment of the employee experience, we conducted a new Employee Opinion Poll (this is in addition to our annual Gallup Employee Engagement Survey) to learn what matters most to our staff. We learned that respect, stability, health benefits, compensation and work-life balance are our employees' top priorities. Our new and enhanced programs are targeted toward these areas.
Monster: Have employee recognition programs played a role?
McCoy: Informal methods of recognition, such as senior leader outreach and emphasis on leader-employee communication, have certainly played a part. However, we have not introduced any additions or enhancements to our already extensive array of employee recognition programs, which include service anniversary awards and employee of the month/quarter designations for service above and beyond the call of duty.
Monster: Do you have any recommendations on how to initiate employee satisfaction and recognition programs on a limited budget?
McCoy: Most importantly, learn what matters most to your employees. Do this by talking with staff, conducting focus groups or using formal surveys. Avoid the temptation to benchmark and copy from other organizations. In our case, we learned that employees weren't necessarily seeking a jazzy new benefit. They desire respect, they value the fact that our leaders care and treat them fairly, above all else.
Armed with this information, we made some adjustments to our grievance and appeal processes, to ensure that they are as employee-friendly as possible. We then developed a communication brochure for every leader to use in conversation with employees, building awareness of our commitment to respect and fairness.
These actions did not carry a large price tag -- but they ensured that we have honed in on those areas that our employees truly value.
Monster: What other efforts have helped your company maintain a positive workplace environment?
McCoy: We are committed to attracting a talented, diverse workforce that is engaged and focused on the delivery of excellent patient- and family-centered care. The connection to our patients, who are at the center of everything we do, gives employees a sense of purpose, focus and meaning for their day-to-day work.
Baptist Health South Florida is a place where the people truly care for one another, and where quality and service is the foundation of all that we do. We work together to be better, and always reach for the best. We have instilled a pride of affiliation in the organization through our recognitions as a top employer by Fortune, Working Mother and Modern HealthCare magazines, as well as by benchmark data from our Gallup Employee Survey.
Monster: Are there ways to build camaraderie when times get tough?
McCoy: Maintaining a climate of openness and transparency; above all, being honest and not trying to shield employees from reality. Employees know how tough times are and they know that every organization is affected. In our case, the volume of elective procedures is significantly reduced, which in turn has an impact on our revenue. Our investment portfolio has lost some value. These factors affect the organization as a whole. We've told our employees and we've explained what steps we are taking to address them. In the absence of information, people make assumptions and rumors tend to spread. We avoid that with a commitment to open and honest communication throughout all levels of our organization.
Monster: Do you plan to maintain any new initiatives even after the economy recovers?
McCoy: Absolutely. This year, we introduced LifeWorks, a 24/7 confidential phone and Web-based service to provide help to employees with personal, financial, legal, health and general convenience issues. The new benefit was launched during a three-day celebration called "The Baptist Health Way." Many new initiatives and program enhancements were introduced during this event, during which the senior executives in the organization visited all of our locations and spoke with employees one-on-one. This celebration will now be an annual event. Each year, Baptist Health will respond to employee needs by offering an enhanced or new benefit in an area that is of high value to them.
Monster: Do you have any other recommendations for maintaining a great work environment in a downturn?
McCoy: Organizations that have built a bank of "trust capital" can weather these kinds of storms. If employees trust their leaders to do the right thing, if they believe that leaders will communicate honestly and openly and if they have seen executives "walk the talk," they know that they will be treated as fairly as is possible, no matter what external factors exist.
About the Company
With more than 13,000 employees, Baptist Health is the area's largest private employer and includes Baptist, Baptist Children's, Doctors, Homestead, Mariners and South Miami Hospitals as well as Baptist Cardiac & Vascular Institute, Baptist Outpatient Services and Baptist Health Enterprises.
About the Author
Adriene McCoy is Assistant Vice President, Human Resources, for Baptist Health South Florida. She oversees human resources leadership for employees at five hospitals, 18 outpatient centers, and numerous administrative support facilities in Miami-Dade, Broward and Monroe counties. She is also responsible for all talent acquisition and retention teams of Baptist Health.