Happy Hospitals: Smiles are Worth a Billion Words

A friend was describing her hospital workplace culture recently.  Problem: people rarely smile.

The power of a smile.

The winter months do get long.  Gray is gray is gray.  But I think there is a much larger problem here.  How can we make people truly happy when they come to work in the hospital?  How do we get people to care about the vibe an organization conveys?

(sidebar: check out Gretchen Rubin’s The Happiness Project)

We have to make people care.  (For a relevant metaphorical blog post, read this one by Ben Casnocha)

I believe it goes further than great wages and good benefits.  Those are important, no doubt.  Crafting an enjoyable work environment is vitally important.  Responding to employee needs.  Asking for employee input (secret to success: acting on employee input).  Truly valuing employees is key.  Saying we value employees isn’t it.  Employees that feel valued…is…it.

Not having been in management, I’m unaware of the difficulty in building an employees-are-valued environment. But having worked in a plethora of organizations my list of things not to do is long.  Let’s just say there is plenty of room for improvement.  The thing is, many organizations are not trying to improve.  And that could be a fatal mistake.

It does start at the top.  Step 1: smile when you’re in the building (not every event in a hospital calls for a smile, but make it your default facial expression).  Step 2: ask employees how they are doing and if they need anything to help them do their job better.  Step 3: ask patients if you can do anything to make their visit more comfortable. Step 4: repeat! repeat! repeat!

I do know the first step in making a hospital a warm and inviting place for patients: the workers inside the hospital need to be warm and inviting.  Not groundbreaking.  But I’ve yet to find a place that is perfect.  And if your organization isn’t perfect, why aren’t you working on being so?

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