Departments provide blueprint for employee engagement success

January 15, 2019  //  FOUND IN: Our Employees,

The Quality Continuous Improvement team huddles together at a recent meeting.

For the past several months, areas across Michigan Medicine have been working hard to improve their work environment and enhance employee engagement. The efforts come on the heels of the 2018 Employee Engagement Survey, which provided vital feedback on how leadership can make the organization a better place to work and heal.

With this year’s survey only a few months away, here’s a look at two areas that received high marks for employee engagement — and the tactics they are using to continue that success.

‘Visualizing’ the future

One key area targeted for improvement organizationwide was communication between leaders and employees.

In the Quality Department, that has been a key initiative for some time. In fact, walking through the Quality Department’s office can be overwhelming for an outsider — much of the wall space has been taken over by visual management tracking systems to help teams stay on schedule with projects.

“All of our teams are experimenting with different visual management techniques to improve transparency of projects and better track key deadlines,” said Linnea Chervenak, M.H.A., senior director of quality. “Our leadership team decided to take those principles and apply them to our overall department goals — which includes improving engagement — as a way to transparently share progress with our staff.”

Staff members pose in front of a wall that contains Quality’s three-year strategic objectives.

One office wall is dedicated entirely to tracking the department’s three-year strategic objectives. As seen in the accompanying image, the wall includes employee engagement and is tracking the overall engagement index score as well as staff retention rates. Individual teams keep track of activities tied directly to the action plans submitted to HR.

“Adding employee engagement information to the visual management boards gives staff members a way to hold us accountable and provide feedback on projects and ideas that we are implementing,” said Chervenak.

Feedback helps team give back

Following the 2018 survey, the Quality Department held a “mini hackathon” as a way to gather staff member’s input on how to increase the department’s engagement score. Many ideas came out the hackathon, including the establishment of the Quality Cares committee. The goal of this staff-driven group is to identify opportunities for the department to give back to the community.

In the six months since the group was established they have led several successful initiatives, including:

  • A blanket-making drive for patients in the Rogel Cancer Center
  • Volunteering at a community garden in Detroit
  • A donation drive to help animals in need at the Huron Valley Humane Society
  • Adopting a family in need during the holiday season
  • Gathering donations and supplies for the Shelter Association of Washtenaw County

Collaboration leads to success

Quality isn’t the only area of the organization that reaches out to all employees to help make important decisions and carry teams into the future.

In the Canton rehabilitation therapy clinic, everyone is involved in decisions, ranging from hiring to program development to what kind of music is played in the gym. Leaders also regularly meet with employees to learn about changes that need to be made, which maintains a high level of engagement.

The Canton rehab therapy clinic.

“We are really more of a family than we are a team, respecting and helping each other in all that we do,” said William Farr, manager of the clinic. “And that comes from a culture that was created long ago by our previous manager Chris Magnant, who is now leading all physical, occupational and recreational therapy programs within Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation at Michigan Medicine.”

To Farr, it is critical that Canton leadership stays hands-off but supportive.

“Our employees don’t need to look over their shoulder, meaning they have the freedom to do what they do best,” Farr said. “At the same time, we encourage them to come to us with issues and we will do what we can to eliminate barriers and help them go further, both in the care they provide and in their careers.”

For instance, the clinic never used to offer aquatic therapy as there is no pool on site. However, employees noticed a need among patients and the leadership team explored ways to make it happen by partnering with MedSport colleagues at Domino’s Farms, which has a pool. Now, several patients receive aquatic therapy each week. This type of organic growth is also exemplified in neuro-rehabilitation, orthopedic, spine, hand, pelvic floor, vestibular and cancer rehab programs in Canton.

Finally, staff also gets support when it comes to continuing education.

“We encourage our team members to become experts in different types of therapy,” Farr said. “All that we are able to accomplish in our clinic is possible thanks to our division leadership, as well as the engaged and collaborative culture that we carry out every day.”

The next employee engagement survey will take place April 1-12. Stay tuned to Headlines as more information is rolled out.