Quality Department puts engagement in the hands of employees

June 28, 2018  //  FOUND IN: Strategy & Leadership,

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When the results of the recent Vital Voices Employee Engagement Survey came in, the Quality Department wanted to take action. So they went straight to the source.

“Through the survey, our staff members told us that they want to be more involved in decision-making processes and have more information shared about the strategic goals and direction of the department and organization,” said Linnea Chervenak, M.H.A., senior director of the Quality Department.

Chervenak and the rest of the department’s leadership team looked for the first opportunity they had to give staff time to discuss areas of improvement and offer their perspective on how to implement those changes.

Thus the idea for a “mini hackathon” was born.

“Hacking” the issues

Fast-forward to June 1, when the department gathered for an all-staff meeting.

“Instead of having people sit through hours of presentations, we really wanted to take advantage of everyone being together in one room to tap into the expertise of our own staff members,” said Chervenak. “We have a very diverse staff and we knew that they would have ideas and strategies to improve our workflow and find ways to become more effective as a department.”

The nearly 140 staff members spent the afternoon “hacking” solutions to issues like improving employee recognition, enhancing managerial effectiveness, reducing social disparities in health care, lowering rates of health care-acquired conditions at Michigan Medicine, reducing readmission rates, finding opportunities for cost savings, and brainstorming more ways for the department to give back to the community.

“It was inspiring to see everyone in our department get involved in the hackathon and spend time working together to come up with solutions to some of the issues facing our organization and our department,” said Steven Bernstein, M.D., M.P.H., chief quality officer.

How it worked

Everyone in the department was able to select which area they wanted to work on and then broke into groups to discuss issues and propose ideas to address them. After spending two hours of group discussion, each group reported to the full team.

The results of the hackathon gave the department plenty to discuss and will drive the opportunities that leadership will include in the department’s employee engagement action plan. These include creating a robust recognition program in the department, developing a new employee orientation plan, starting a new committee to identify volunteer opportunities, and revamping communication efforts across the department to better share institutional updates, department updates, and peer-to-peer recognition.

“The department’s leadership team met recently to review the results and ideas that came out of the hackathon and determine how we can move forward with some or all of the projects,” said Chervenak. “We identified some areas that we can start working on immediately but will be gathering additional feedback from our employees and really looking to them to decide how much of the work is implemented. We’re extremely excited about where the Quality Department is going — and our staff members are leading the way.”

Other engagement activities

Keeping employees engaged is a top priority for the Quality Department, especially with a large, diverse staff located in two different buildings.

Over the past year, the leadership team has sponsored a number of outings or engagement activities for Quality team members, from this spring’s staff ping pong tournament and eclipse watch parties, to volunteer outings at Food Gatherers. Team members are currently “competing” to see who can climb the most flights of stairs.

“We’re committed to making this an enjoyable, as well as impactful, place to work,” Chervenak said. “And we do that best when we listen to our employees and engage them in the decision-making processes.”