March is Employee Appreciation Month. UMHS leadership is hosting breakfast, lunch or dinner at all our sites as a way to say “thank you.” We also conduct our annual Employee Engagement Survey this month. There are only two more days to participate in it.
I’m happy to say the IT department is at an overall participation rate of 66% compared to 48% for all of UMHS. We had a 90% participation rate in IT two years ago. It was my first year as the new CIO and I made it very clear to the people on staff that I couldn’t address problems in the department if I didn’t know what they were. I needed their input!
Based on the survey results two years ago, we established four workgroups to focus on several key areas. Some areas we were definitely weak on and others we were OK but knew we could improve – recognition and appreciation, employee development and training, service excellence and teamwork.
While we’ve made good progress in all these areas, I’m the first to admit there is still far more work to do.
I have been encouraging our IT department staff to “Make Your Voice Heard.” There are multiple channels for staff to give me and the entire leadership team input and feedback. In addition to the annual UMHS Employee Engagement Survey, there is the CIO Mailbox, the monthly CIO Breakfasts, and the twice a year All Staff Meeting.
Feedback is important to me. I read all the emails and survey comments. With an anonymous survey, there can be very negative, brutal comments at times – but I read them all. When the next survey cycle opens, I try to encourage people to turn those kinds of comments into concrete suggestions for improvements.
At the CIO breakfast last week, we had another lively discussion on ways to improve the department. Before we ended, I encouraged the attendees to complete the survey if they hadn’t yet. I also asked them to go back to anyone who may have said they weren’t going to fill out the survey because nothing ever comes of it and tell them I need their input. Change takes time, but we’re committed to making improvements.
Here are some of the things we’ve done in the past year:
Recognition and appreciation – much of this team’s work has now become part of our routine processes. Managers are given tips about how to recognize staff and are encouraged to nominate people for our annual Golden Mouse and STAR awards. Managers are given a budget for team recognition.
Employee development and training – we’ve offered a “Taking Charge of Your Career” course and required all managers to have a formal “Career Action Planning” discussion with each staff member every year.
Service excellence – we’re currently rolling out the UMHS program with required training for all staff. As I say, we are part of the extended care team – we don’t touch patients directly but our clinicians and caregivers rely every day on the systems we provide and support.
Teamwork – we’ve recently created a Team Ambassador Program for more seamless cross-unit collaborations. Team Ambassadors are volunteers from each work unit available to provide information about their unit’s processes. They will also help others identify the right people on their team to work with. Every work unit had a team photo with a description of their primary functions on display at the last All Staff meeting. We have since posted them on our internal website for reference. And each team is encouraged to identify one or two other teams that they would like to get to know better. Team-to-team meetings are being scheduled to increase camaraderie and personal interaction. With 600 people on staff, these steps can make a large department feel more connected and personal.
I look forward to seeing the results of this year’s survey. Have we moved the dial from last year? Are there new areas we need to focus on? What suggestions for improvement will the people who do the work share with leadership?
After all, employee engagement isn’t just about an employee’s level of satisfaction, it’s about the mutual commitment and passion for success in all that we do. That means helping identify areas that need improvement and then getting involved to help make the changes.