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Low-cost ways to thank staff for a job well done
Tell staff what they're doing right
"Staff morale is always an issue for hospital access professionals," says Kathy Matthews, director of admitting and ED registration at Long Island College Hospital of Brooklyn (NY). For this reason, Matthews says she takes great pains to "let staff know what they're doing right."
I truly believe that patient access professionals are paramount to the success of a medical center," says Matthews. "The people with whom I work are intelligent and diligent. Their primary focus is the care and dignity of the patient."
Here are some ways that Matthews rewards her staff:
A departmental e-mail distribution list was created.
"Whenever a staff member receives a compliment, be it from a physician, a patient, or a nurse, we immediately post a congratulatory e-mail to the group," says Matthews. "Similarly, when we've had a rough week, we use the group list to acknowledge and thank staff for pulling together."
Meals are eaten together.
"We've found that meals taken together create a convivial atmosphere, which contributes to team building," says Matthews. During the holidays, a 'pot luck' style is used, with everyone contributing a dish, and several times a year the managers sponsor either breakfast or dinner, depending on the shift, to thank staff.
A "wall of fame" was created for staff who have achieved "Employee of the Month" honors.
The plaques are located in the reception area so patients can see them.
Departmental managers do not hesitate to step in when necessary.
"We've filled in as receptionists, bed controllers, and so on. It is important for staff to be aware of the fact that getting the job done is the most important thing," says Matthews. "At many other locations, this could create an issue with the union. That, however, has never been our experience, as they recognize that the good of the department exceeds all other considerations."
Important events in the employee's life are acknowledged.
"We've found that when management acknowledges the life events that are meaningful to the employee, the work product is improved," says Matthews. "Accordingly, we make it a point to celebrate marriages, babies, citizenships, and other occasions. Rather than detracting from the work at hand, the brief time-out enhances our productivity."
Reward service excellence
According to Angela Carson, RHI, administrative director of revenue cycle management at North Central Baptist Hospital in San Antonio, TX, her department is committed to following the organization's "culture of service excellence."
"Based on this culture, our leaders are aware of how important it is to recognize and reward staff for their contributions to helping us meet our service excellence goals," says Carson. Here are some of the ways in which Carson recognizes her staff:
Daily rounding is done by leadership to establish a personal connection with staff.
Carson asks staff specific questions, such as "What worked well today?" Is there anything you need to do your job better?"
Thank-you notes are sent to a staff member's home, acknowledging a specific behavior or outcome that was observed by the team leader or a peer.
"These notes allow leadership to acknowledge staff successes in a personal manner," says Carson.
Staff are given certificates that provide immediate acknowledgment of service excellence.
These can be used in the cafeteria, or can be saved and used for larger rewards such as caps, jackets, gift cards to area restaurants, or massages.
A staff recognition program was created by one of Carson's departments, health information management.
The department purchased a "Trophy of Excellence," which is presented to a staff member who exemplifies service excellence. "This recognition is unique in that the person who is awarded the trophy gets to select who the next recipient is going to be," says Carson. "That person may or may not be a co-worker in his or her own department."
The idea is that each recipient will pass the trophy around the hospital as they recognize each other's successes. "As new recipients are identified, they are invited to the monthly department staff meeting and presented the trophy in front of their peers," says Carson. "Each new recipient's name is engraved onto the trophy."
Reward staff for these things
Carson shares this list of things that patient access staff could be rewarded for:
participating in staff meetings and asking questions that perhaps the whole team wants the answer to, but no one wanted to ask;
covering open shifts or weekends;
leading educational sessions during staff meetings;
participating in community service projects supported by the hospital, or other activities outside of work;
attending all required educational and staff meetings;
identifying new ways to do jobs more efficiently, resulting in cost-savings for the hospital;
being proactive in identifying issues that might affect the department's productivity - for instance, noticing that a copy machine needs maintenance, closely monitoring supply levels, and watching computer queues to make sure information is crossing in a timely manner.
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