5. The workplace of choice

Somewhere (probably many places) someone has found the components of the perfect workplace. And while no company has reached perfection, many are working hard to get as close as they can.

But what makes a company great to work for? Google has its ideas (they seem to be working, BTW). Specifically, what makes a hospital great to work for? Fortune released its annual list not (too) long ago and ten hospitals made the list (and provided the data for the examples below). Hospital Impact has the complete rundown and some observations on the list.

The problem with this question is that the answer is going to be different for everyone. There are many things that go into making a place great to work. Becoming a workplace of choice is a culmination of hard work from all departments in the organization, not just human resources. So let’s borrow some ideas, add some of our own, and try to come up with the outline of a workplace of choice.

Benefits and wages are important. Obviously the availability of health insurance as a benefit is decreasing, so providing that service is of high importance. Fair and decent pay is an obvious need as well. Griffin Hospital in Derby, CT., received “6,691 applications for 180 open positions in 2007” because of the organization’s benefits and customer service supremacy. Although benefits and wages matter, their importance is often forgotten on a daily basis–and so less relevant in the discussion on great places to work.

Care for people. I’ve written before on Methodist Hospital System‘s “No One Dies Alone” program. As a hospital, we need to care for our patients–that is job number one. Most hospitals do that. But what separates a middle-of-the-pack hospital and a hospital that employees want to work for is how the organization cares for its employees. Are voices heard? Is communication encouraged? Are concerns acted upon? The Golden Rule applies. Every day.

Facilities can be an important aspect of a great place to work as well. Clean floors. Well-cared-for grounds. Investment in physical facilities. Innovative purchases of information technology (remember the training, lots of it!). These kinds of things can help to make employees proud of the organization they work for.

Rewards for high performance and involvement, like how OhioHealth rewards their employees for “customer service, community service, stars of the month, and perfect attendance,” amongst others. The company also rewards long-time employees with shopping trips at a local mall. It is important to reward for the right reasons, however. Reward systems have the potential to become competitive and could ultimately send employee satisfaction in the wrong direction.

A good measure of how employees feel about their workplace is the referral rate for open positions. With the current state of health care worker shortages a reality and predictor of what is likely to come, referrals may be the all-important factor that keeps our FTE openings limited and separates our own system from the competition. Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta has a referral rate for open positions that approaches 50% and many of its employees count ten or more years of service for the organization. Keeping current employees employed (satisfied!) is a great way to keep openings minimal. The Mayo Clinic has a goal to hire for life,”17% of its workforce has been there for 20 years.”

Training, constant training, for employees. Promoting within and educating the workforce to enable them to acquire the skills necessary for advancement within the organization is a very good thing. We will all become experts in customer service. Southern Ohio Medical Center “engages all employees in caregiving: Even housekeepers are urged to ask patients how they can be of help.”

Obviously there are some great hospitals listed here. There are likely even more great hospitals to work for that are not on the list. The components of a great workplace are nearly limitless. And while all the above components are important, when they come together in an organization, they create culture. Culture is the most important component of a workplace of choice.

It’s not always explainable, rarely definable, but definitely consequential.

Tony Chen at Hospital Impact writes, “Hospital culture isn’t some warm fuzzy thing that only consultants talk about – it is the unwritten norms of behavior and the frank conversations. Of course, this means that the people trust the leader enough to share!”

Principle #5: Being a workplace of choice is not an easy task to accomplish. Heck, it’s even difficult to talk about because we all have different opinions and ideas on what “great” is. But if we encourage the discussion, actively listen, and work incessantly to improve, our goal of being the best hospital to work for is achievable.

One thought on “5. The workplace of choice

  1. This is a great article…I think many people overlook some of these categories as components of a great workplace. We sponsor an annual program that honors 99 great workplaces for top talent in Northeast Ohio (NorthCoast 99). We also publish a blog that has great information on how to build a great workplace. I invite you and your readers to check it out!

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