Each of us wants to feel appreciated at work, like what we do matters. The challenge for business leaders is finding ways to help demonstrate that. Last July, we asked some of our ThedaCare team members to brainstorm ways to make appreciation an active part of our culture. Their work led to ThedaCare Pride, a new system-wide team recognition program.
The most visible and creative aspect of the program is the sharing of recognition eCards. We wondered at first whether people would find the idea hokey, but no—employees think the eCards are meaningful and just plain fun! Recognitions range from “Happy birthday” to “Thank you for your extra work” to “Outstanding customer service.” Check out these great examples:
- To: David
On a recent icy evening, a critically ill patient was being transferred. You braved the weather, scraped the windows of the family's car, and brought it up to the door, and ensured they made it safely to their car. In this small act of kindness, you provided them the opportunity to stay at their family member’s bedside, demonstrated such care for their wellbeing and exceeded their expectations. Thank you for representing ThedaCare so well!
- To: Gena
Thank you for your willingness to speak up during the recent CEO session. Your comments and commitment to healthcare for our patients is very much appreciated.
- To: Jake
Thanks Jake for jumping my dead car! I would still be stranded in the parking lot if it weren't for you!
- To: Leanne
Thank you for always being such a great patient advocate. Your compassion and love for nursing shows with each patient you take care of. Thank you for your hard work and dedication!
It’s amazing how much power a simple thank you carries. We’ve reached 30 percent of our workforce in the program’s first two months.
In healthcare as in many businesses, our days can get crazy! We’re so focused on serving customers and patients that sometimes we forget to balance it with a focus on each other too. That’s why it’s so important to pause and thank someone for doing good work.
I’ve gotten in the habit of starting staff meetings by asking if anyone has something to celebrate or recognize. We want to become a culture that’s a little warmer and kinder. One of our values is to Love Our Work, and if we do, we should share that with others.
ThedaCare Pride makes it easy. Our intranet Wall of Fame lets employees read positive comments from around the organization, and our personalized yearbooks have been a big hit for milestone anniversaries. Cathy, one of our human resources consultants, told me employees are very touched to receive their yearbook comments. We’re also adding an awards program to nominate and honor team members who truly live our values.
Just recently, I heard the story of a patient who arrived after-hours at one of our clinics. He was pounding on the door, and one of our nurses who was still in the parking lot came back to talk with him and learned he was experiencing chest pains. She opened the clinic doors, called 911 and got the patient stabilized for ambulance transfer. In moments like these, it’s easy to think, “Well, this is our job. It’s what we’re supposed to do.” It might feel commonplace for us, but certainly not for the patients we help! I encourage us to move toward celebrating those above-and-beyond moments.
A highly engaged workforce leads to higher productivity, innovative solutions and business results. Likewise, a thriving culture sparks new talent acquisition and greater retention. So, ask what your employees are sharing with each other these days.
— Dr. Dean Gruner is president and CEO of Appleton-based ThedaCare. To send your thoughts to him, email email@example.com.