Create a Great Work Environment: Resurrection Health Care
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.
Resurrection Health Care is one such company.
Sponsored by the Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth and Sisters of the Resurrection, Resurrection Health Care is the largest Catholic health care system in Chicago. Janice Lindquist, Human Resources Director for Resurrection Health Care, describes how the company builds on community to help generate a positive work atmosphere during a recession.
Monster: Amidst this year's economic challenges, how has your company managed to maintain employee performance and satisfaction?
Janice Lindquist: We place a great emphasis on maintaining a "no secrets" or transparent culture that includes sharing lots of information with our employees about the specific challenges we face and the changes we need to make to survive those challenges. This helps foster a spirit of "we're all in this together " and our employees see that measures taken to reduce expenses are not made capriciously. Our employees understand that the quality of service they provide to our patients has a direct impact on our collective and individual bottom lines, which provides a strong impetus to perform well.
Monster: Have employee recognition programs played a role?
Lindquist: Celebrations and individual recognition initiatives surely help to keep morale up. There are a variety of programs in place at each of our sites designed for just that purpose. We continue to celebrate in the way we always have but do so more economically.
Many of our facilities hold ice cream socials and other events that are tied to the achievement of organizational goals, e.g., the department that achieved the highest patient satisfaction scores during the last quarter, or to celebrate employees who go "above and beyond." It allows all of the employees to come together to have fun while holding high achievers up as models for others to emulate.
Monster: Do you have any recommendations on how to initiate employee satisfaction and recognition programs on a limited budget?
Lindquist: It may sound simplistic, but I have heard repeatedly that, while free lunches, gift certificates and raffle prizes are nice, employees find a sincere thank you from their supervisor on a regular basis much more meaningful. Yet it is statistically demonstrated that this is an area in which managers consistently fall short. A heartfelt expression of gratitude costs nothing and yet accomplishes much.
A very popular initiative at our organization is the practice of leaders from the CEO level on down sending thank-you notes to the homes of employees. Our employees tell us that this is meaningful because it gives their families an opportunity to share in their accomplishments at work.
Monster: What other efforts have helped your company maintain a positive workplace environment?
Lindquist: Resurrection Health Care is co-sponsored by two orders of Catholic nuns who do an excellent job of integrating the mission, vision and core values into our organizational culture. Many of our employees see the work that they do as having a higher purpose, as a "calling." In some ways, the tougher times are, the more it galvanizes their commitment to what they see as our sponsors' health care ministry.
Monster: Are there ways to build camaraderie when times get tough?
Lindquist: A number of creative ideas that require little or no expense have spontaneously emerged within many of our departments. Fitness initiatives such as walking clubs and support groups built around weight loss have taken shape. There have been a number of "recession parties " where pot lucks are held in which employees prepare a dish from food they find in their pantries or freezers. Theme days where employees are allowed to wear clothing associated with their favorite sports teams have also become popular.
Monster: Do you have any other recommendations for maintaining a great work environment in a downturn?
Lindquist: Focus on the same things that foster a positive environment no matter what the economy is doing: Treat employees respectfully. Listen to their suggestions. Address their fears and concerns. Live your mission, vision and values at all levels of the organization.
About the Company
Resurrection Health Care is a community-based not-for-profit organization living out its sacred mission and core values — faithful to the spirit of its Sponsors and motivated by a reverence for life and respect for those it serves.
About the Author
Janice Lindquist has been a director of Human Resources at Resurrection Health Care (RHC) for seven years and has worked in the non-profit health care sector for 29 years. A seasoned HR generalist, she also specializes in employee communications and employee/labor relations at the RHC system level.