Make your voice heard

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.

8 thoughts on “Make your voice heard

  1. Tressa on said:

    Different city, different health system, same opportunities. Thanks for reminding us of the continual process of progress!

  2. I’m an IT Director at a large hospital in the southwest. We face the same challenges and I’m taking notes on the activities you have planned – some great ideas. I kicked off a program called “What I Do Matters” in which IT staff (voluntarily, not required) created short (1-2 min) videos talking about how their job impacted patient care. We had database administrators and systems engineers, among others, talking about their work in the context of patient care. We showed these videos at our all-employee meetings. It was a big hit and helped connect the dots between IT and clinical operations. Understanding that connection is vital to service excellence and employee engagement.

    • Sue Schade on said:

      Susan, glad our ideas are useful to your organization. I like the “What I Do Matters” program — you are so right — very strong connection between sevice excellence and employee engagement. Thanks for sharing!

  3. The problem though is that over the last 2 years there is little to show from these workgroups. The response rates are so low because people have not seen any changes. Two years ago they made their voices heard and now they feel ignored like they have been year after year.

    I know you’re trying but for this to work progress has to be seen by the staff. Pointing out the workgroups that have all but been forgotten at this point right around this year’s survey isn’t good enough. What is needed is consistent updates on the status of these workgroups. Consistent is the key. Put it in the newsletters. Talk about it at the All Hands meetings. Blog about it. Be transparant and have it out there for all the staff to see.

    What have these workgroups accomplished in 2 years? As a member of staff, why should I believe that my voice will be heard this year when it doesn’t look like it has before? Two years ago 90% of the staff took a chance that things would be different this time around. This year a third of those people have given up.

    • Sue Schade on said:

      Pat, thanks for the input. I’m the first to say that I’d like to have made more progress on the areas we’ve been working on. However, I’m pleased that we have been able to make several changes as described in the blog and as described throughout the year in the newsletter, the All Staff meetings and other communications. And yes, we can always do more communications. I’m also happy to say that by the time the survey closed late Friday, we achieved an overall participation rate of 82% for MCIT. So staff are still participating and making their voice heard. There are also many staff participating in these various improvement efforts. If you have a specific area of improvement that you’d like to participate in, please step forward and let me know.

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