Making recognition ‘part of our daily routine’: Q&A with Dee Hunt, M.S.
Dee Hunt, M.S., joined Michigan Medicine as the Chief Human Resources Officer in early 2018. For the past year, she has overseen a number of new initiatives and exciting changes rolled out by HR.
In honor of National Recognition Month, Hunt sat down with Headlines to discuss those things — and much more! Here’s what she had to say:
Q: What has been the most exciting thing you’ve experienced in your first year on campus? What has been most challenging?
DH: The most exciting is the interaction with staff at the various events and meetings such as the Employee Appreciation Breakfast, Service Awards, Women’s Leadership Summit, DEI events, MHealthy activities, Voices, the Women of Color Taskforce, Leadership Day, Management Conference and all the other events I was able to participate in during my first year. There are so many ways to interact with all levels of staff and hear their Michigan Medicine (or U-M) journey.
In terms of the most challenging thing, it’s knowing where to go and how to get to meetings! It was also a challenge learning the names and locations of buildings and knowing the meaning of all the acronyms — that one may take years to learn.
Q: What do you see as the role of Human Resources in an organization? How is that role of HR evolving?
DH: HR plays a major role as a partner in working with various leaders, employees and the organization at large to accomplish goals, objectives and system strategies. I believe HR is the partner that is needed to move the organization and individuals forward to their next level of success. HR must ensure that the work we do with faculty and staff will be completed professionally and respectfully.
Q: Why is employee recognition so important at Michigan Medicine? And how can it be built into the daily routine for faculty and staff at all levels?
DH: Everyone wants to feel appreciated and valued — and that includes faculty, staff, learners and leaders. It is extremely important that we let our staff know that we appreciate them and the work that they do. Many of our employees take on additional roles outside the position they were hired for and can be recognized for “Making a Difference,” a program already in place at Michigan Medicine.
Studies have shown that positive recognition in organizations can increase employee engagement, boost morale, improve relationships between staff and departments, increase retention, reduce turnover, impact health and wellness, help attract and recruit talented staff and improve the overall brand of the organization.
I think it can be fairly easy to have recognition become part of our daily routine. It is as simple as saying “thank you,” writing a short note of thanks to an employee, starting each meeting with several minutes of recognition, encouraging employees to recognize each other, creating a brag board and celebrating accomplishments. Make recognition fun and find out how staff prefer to be recognized (publicly or privately). Leaders are encouraged to get to know your employees.
Q: What types of initiatives does your department have planned in the months and years ahead?
DH: Over the past couple of years, we have rebranded our program around the theme “Inspired,” to show how much the work of our faculty and staff inspires those around them. Communications and programming have centered around that common theme, thus increasing participation and engagement.
We have heard that our leaders and managers would like more tools and resources to help them create a culture of appreciation and recognition. That will be our focus for the next few years. With additional tools and resources, we will make recognition easier and more timely. We are currently in the process of revamping our recognition website to make it easier and more accessible. We are exploring the use of technology to help expand the reach of recognition and deliver it in real-time. The technology would also allow for the creation of additional recognition options that are tied to Michigan Medicine values.
Finally, our appreciation events (Appreciation Breakfast and Dinner, Appreciation Day and the Service Awards) have been very successful over the last few years; however, we want to see more participation in the various events. We want faculty and staff to feel appreciated and valued by their manager and Michigan Medicine.
Q: What do you enjoy doing during your off time? Anything people would find surprising?
DH: During my off time, I enjoy spending time with family and friends, traveling, attending musicals and concerts. I am also active at my church, I enjoy reading and love spending quiet time alone.
I have several groups of friends, as so do my brothers, so once a year I sponsor a luncheon after church called “Family and Friends Day – Celebrating Life.” All of us invite our friends to join our family and we celebrate life with great food, live entertainment and share many memories. As the youngest of seven siblings, I encourage my family on things we do, and there is nothing better than spending time with those you love and have supported you.