Teams awarded cash prizes in Pause for Well-being Challenge

January 19, 2022  //  FOUND IN: Our Employees, ,

Ever since Michigan Medicine Chief Executive Officer Marschall S. Runge, M.D., Ph.D. issued his Pause for Well-Being Challenge, many teams and individuals found creative ways to meet the challenge that were uniquely relevant to their areas and work environment. 

Runge’s Stress + Burnout Task Force are tracking these efforts so they can share best practices and reward those who make and engage in well-being commitments. (Keep reading to find out which teams will receive the first challenge awards)! 

A breath of fresh air

Getting outside is a popular way for many groups to take a pause from work, while enjoying nature. For example, the Office for Health Equity and Inclusion (OHEI) added walking (or light jogging) to their weekly huddles, as well as inviting team members to Wednesday Wellness Walk and Talks.

“We’ve truly made personal connections, while chatting during our walks,” said Peggy Wright, OHEI executive assistant. “In our mostly remote world, it’s important we reach out to connect, so during our walk and talks we share our concern for one another’s well-being and discuss how issues impacting society also touch us on a personal level. Supporting one another mentally and emotionally helps all of us regain some strength and resilience. It’s been a unique two years and we are stronger together.”

The Michigan Institute for Clinical & Health Research (MICHR) team scheduled their walks every month and visited unique locations such as the U-M Botanical Gardens, Peony Gardens, Gallop Park and Glenlore trails.

“Our walks were well-received and we feel they are good for the mind, body and spirit,” said Rula Karapatsakis, MICHR financial senior manager. “They promote engagement, belonging, camaraderie, and collaboration while being active and safe in the fresh air.”

The Virtual Care Team found it challenging to get outside, or to even step away from their computer screens for a few moments. So the team challenged its members to add 15-minute “Fresh Air Breaks” into their busy schedules.

“Encouragement and recognition at our huddles with a reminder that ‘you are worth it’ inspired team members to get up and away from their screens,” said Virtual Care Operations Director Jessie DeVito.

The team shared and posted photos of their activities which included daily dog walks, stringing Christmas lights, shoveling snow, watching snowflakes fall and even light plumbing work around the house.

Offering variety encourages participation  

Of course, front-line teams working directly with patients can’t always break away for a breath of fresh air.

The Cardiovascular Acute Care Physical Therapy Team, which has been working in person ?and with COVID-19 patients throughout ?the pandemic, implemented multiple on-site wellness activities to help reduce burnout. The activities included a hydration challenge, 10-minute meditations and a Zoom squat challenge, among others.

“Specific wellness activities attract different team members,” said team supervisor Tina Fields. “We tried to vary activities, which are always optional. The most well-received activity has been the team appreciation board, which allows team members to recognize others for their help. Almost 100 comments have recognized both therapists and rehab techs so far.”

The biggest challenge for the team is that team members consistently prioritize the needs of their patients over their own.

“?Oftentimes, staff feel that even 5-to-10-minute activities take away from time spent treating patients, which already feels limited considering our staffing shortages,” Fields said.  

“We may not have found a solution to team burnout,” Fields added, “but I believe we have figured out how to go through these last few years as a team, supporting each other and working together to provide the highest level of service.”  

Giving time back 

Many administrative departments also feel the “pinch” of time when adding wellness activities. The Department of Communication focused on changes that would give people some time back. 

“To promote more work-life balance, we reduced one-hour meetings to 50 minutes, strive for no ‘regular’ meetings on Fridays, encourage people to take PTO, and are standardizing out-of-office replies so colleagues know where to go for assistance and our staff will not feel like they have to check email when they are away,” said Chief Communications & Marketing Officer Rose Glenn.

The department also has a volunteer “culture squad” that hosted in-person outside events, such as ice cream at a park and cider and donuts outside their building last year. They also plan fun Zoom events, such as trivia competitions, baking and cocktail-making demos. Smaller events draw about 50% of the team but larger gatherings, such as a summer outing, experienced 90% attendance.

Glenn believes these events are well-received because they survey the team often and reach out for feedback along the way. 

“There are so many ways to add well-being moments into your day,” she said. “Asking your staff what they would like is a great way to drum up new ideas that will be meaningful to your team.”

Keeping wellness top of mind

For the Physician Relations and Outreach Team, a daily prompt was helpful to keep team members focused on wellness.

“Every day, we selected an item on the well-being bingo card and challenged our staff to participate as a team,” said Administrative Director Josie Aguirre. “We also keep well-being top of mind by using the Well-Being Challenge Zoom background during meetings and encouraging staff to post photos of their wellness activities on our PRO intranet home page.”  

All the groups felt it was important to recognize team members throughout the challenge to keep up the momentum. While some used team meetings or group boards, others recognized each other using the Making A Difference online recognition tool.

And the first challenge winners are…

Based on a random drawing among all teams which engaged and tracked their well-being  activities, the following teams will be awarded a team budget from Runge to celebrate and support team wellness. 

  • Cardiovascular Acute Care Physical Therapy
  • Physician Relations and Outreach

“I congratulate the winners, and everyone who has been part of the challenge so far. lt’s wonderful to see so many creative approaches to wellness,” said Runge. “When we commit to our well-being and the well-being of others, we build resilience and a sense of community.”

Want to participate?

If you are a leader who wants to participate in Runge’s Pause for Well-Being Challenge, visit this well-being site for ideas and resources and then share your team’s well-being commitment by using this tracking form for a chance to receive a budget for team well-being and recognition from Runge.

For more information about the challenge, visit the Path Forward website.