Hospital puts focus on workforce

(Editor's note: This article is reprinted from the Sept. 19, 2011, issue of AHA News Now from the American Hospital Association.)

The answer is: attracting, retaining and developing the best workforce. The question: What is one goal of Avera McKennan Hospital's Keys to Excellence initiative?

The 545-bed tertiary hospital and university health center in Sioux Falls, SD, plans activities like Jeopardy and the Operation board game to educate employees about the organization and help every employee feel connected to patients and to his or her larger role in the hospital. Onboarding activities are targeted for employees of three months and also those of nine months.

"If people understand the bigger picture, they stay connected and stay longer," says Mary Sand, PhD, director of service and organizational development.

Two other Avera programs keep employees engaged. During the past two years of the Bright Ideas program, employees have submitted more than 1,800 ideas for improvement, and nearly 700 of them have been implemented. The Emerging Leaders program offers a nine-month curriculum for employees identified by their managers as having leadership potential.

For more information, contact Sand at Visit Hospitals in Pursuit of Excellence at for more workforce and culture case examples.