Instill PRIDE in staff to boost morale, service

Florida facility is generous with praise, gifts

It’s no accident that more than 63% of the employees at Brooks Rehabilitation Hospital in Jacksonville, FL, have been with the hospital for five years or longer. Hospital managers pride themselves on creating a work environment in which staff feel valued and satisfied, and they focus on rewarding and recognizing employees who have provided good service.

Their efforts appear to be paying off for the 127-bed, freestanding rehab hospital, which has nearly 400 full-time-equivalent workers. The hospital has retained most of its staff at a time when rehab has one of the highest employee turnover rates in the health care industry. The 1999-2000 Hospital Salary and Benefits Report, produced by John R. Zabka Associates in Oakland, NJ, found that rehab services had an annual turnover rate of 26.67% in 1999. Because Brooks had a 37% employee turnover spread over five years, the hospital is bucking the rehab trend of continually losing more than one-quarter of staff each year.

"We’re doing the most appropriate thing of recognizing good service and rewarding people for it," says Lauri-Ellen Smith, APR, director of communication and marketing for BrooksHealth System, which includes Brooks Rehabilitation Hospital.

While all employees are trained to focus on customer satisfaction, the hospital carries that philosophy a step further and emphasizes staff rewards for good customer service. Called PRIDE, which stands for Personal Responsibility In Delighting Everyone, the program was started as a way to thank employees for going above and beyond the call of duty, Smith explains.

Managers and hourly workers send out PRIDE cards to any employee who has done something special for the staff, hospital, patients, or even community. The cards are small, about postcard size, printed in purple, orange, and yellow, and they read: "Thank You. You’ve Got P.R.I.D.E. — Personal Responsibility In Delighting Everyone."

PRIDE card writers are asked to be specific, complimenting an employee for a specific performance on a task or objective. For instance, Smith received a PRIDE card several years ago from a manager who recognized the work Smith put into advocating for a bicycle helmet bill and encouraging the hospital to push for the bill. The PRIDE card, in a few lines, complimented her good work on the bill, which was passed in 1998 after three years of lobbying by Smith and others.

Employees enjoy the cards, and some post them at their workstations, Smith says.

While the compliment may be reward enough for most people, the hospital adds another incentive: Staff can exchange their PRIDE cards for prizes. The hospital’s clinical resource staff stamps the cards, showing they’ve been redeemed for prizes, and then returns them to the staff.

There’s an order list of 13 items that can be bought or exchanged for cards, including a polo shirt and long-sleeved T-shirt, each costing five cards; a cardigan, a black gym bag, a blue business bag, and a golf umbrella, each costing five cards plus $5; movie passes, costing five cards; and a sweatshirt for five cards plus $2. "In our quality and clinical education department, we have a woman whose job it is to have fun creative new innovative gifts available," Smith says.

The hospital spends about $20,000 each year on the prize merchandise, and the administration has made it a priority to recognize employees in a variety of ways, including providing appreciation celebrations and luncheons. (See story on the hospital’s employee incentives, p. 48.) The hospital’s attention to rewarding and recognizing employees no doubt has contributed to its ability to retain employees, and it’s probably helped the hospital’s high customer satisfaction rating, Smith says. In the second quarter of 1999, for example, the hospital’s outpatient customer satisfaction survey included 90% or better scores on 23 aspects of hospital service and care. Those included 99% on cleanliness, 93% on the patient’s role in treatment, 98% on professionalism of therapists, 98% on staff teamwork, 98% on concern and caring, 95% on telephone calls returned and courtesy provided, 94% on discharge instructions, 96% on case managers’ customer service, and 96% on likelihood the person would recommend Brooks to others.

Need More Information?

Lauri-Ellen Smith, APR, Director of Communi cation and Marketing, BrooksHealth System, 3599 University Blvd. S., Jacksonville, FL 32216. Telephone: (904) 858-7600. Fax: (904) 858-7734. Web: www.brookshealth.org.