Teamwork + fun + inclusion: A recipe for success

December 1, 2022  //  FOUND IN: Our Employees, ,

Approximately a 5-minute read

Key takeaways:

  • The idea of improving engagement can be overwhelming, however, bringing together the elements of teamwork, respect, heartfelt appreciation and recognition will lead the way to a happier, more engaged team.
  • The pediatric medical specialties contact center and acute hemodialysis unit shared their efforts at improving engagement. Their work may inspire efforts in your area of the organization.
  • Detailed instructions on how to submit an engagement improvement plan and additional resources are available on the Employee Engagement website.

This time of year, everyone is searching for the perfect recipe – the best way to cook a meal for family and friends, the best holiday cookie recipe, or the easiest way to reheat leftovers.

While many people may look to secret family ingredients to find success, two areas at Michigan Medicine found the perfect recipe for improving engagement among their team members, with a focus on the Belonging and inclusion aspects of U-M Health’s BASE strategic priorities.

“Increasing engagement in our areas can sometimes feel like an unattainable goal, which can often be very overwhelming for leaders,” said Paul Sturgis, MSHROD, SPHR, senior director of human resources strategy and organizational effectiveness. “Rather than thinking of engagement as an end result, however, it is beneficial to break it down into smaller pieces. Bring together the elements of teamwork, respect, heartfelt appreciation and recognition, and you are on your way to a happier, more engaged team.”

Utilizing these key ingredients, leaders in the acute hemodialysis unit and the pediatric medical specialties contact center at U-M Health, together with their teams, found the perfect formula for success in building engagement in their areas.

Teamwork makes the dream work

“Our area went through a tremendous amount of change in the past few years, and our team members really worked hard to support one another through the transition,” said Courtney Bauer, a supervisor in the pediatric medical specialties contact center. “Throughout all the change, our team truly came together as we worked to create a unified contact center. This goal would not have been successful without every member of our team, and I am so thankful for every one of them.”

Faculty and staff in the acute hemodialysis unit also focused on developing teamwork as a way to handle significant change happening in their area.

“Our dialysis unit used to be closed overnight with on-call coverage, but we are now a 24/7 unit, and have more than doubled our staff and treatment levels in the last six years,” said Joy DiPonio, M.B.A., B.S.N., R.N., CNML, clinical nursing director, acute hemodialysis/INU. “The only way this change was successful was because of our team members, their willingness to trust us and the way they supported each other.” 

Facilitating open communication is a great way to build teamwork and develop trust among faculty and staff, leading to a greater sense of belonging among colleagues.

“We focused on building relationships not only among our own team, but also with the faculty and staff we work with in the clinics by improving our communication and meeting with stakeholders,” said David Holloway, associate director for the primary care, OB/GYN, and pediatric medical specialties contact centers. “Ultimately we all share the goal of providing an optimal experience for our patients and their families, so it is important to us to build relationships with colleagues across the enterprise to understand how we can partner to achieve this objective.”

The acute hemodialysis team

Add in a little fun

Developing teamwork and community within a unit or department takes preparation and planning but adding in some fun can make it easier. Gathering for activities outside of the office is another great way to bring a team together.

“We try to plan unit get-togethers a couple of times per year for all of our staff and their families to get together outside of the workplace and get to know each other better in a more fun, relaxed setting,” said Valerie Liebbe, M.S.N., R.N., CNML, nursing supervisor, acute hemodialysis/INU. “We took a little longer planning our picnic this year and we had staff members asking when we were going to get together, which really shows how much our staff enjoy spending time together.”

Making recognition a priority is another great way to add an element of fun. While there are great resources to recognize staff, including the Michigan Medicine Recognition platform, involve the team in identifying different approaches.

“We created an employee recognition committee to recognize high performing teammates and those who embody Michigan Medicine core values including teamwork and inclusion,” said Holloway. “The group is tasked with identifying recognition tools (e.g., contact center newsletters, team intranet site, awards) and criteria that will resonate with staff in our area because we understand that there are many different ways that people prefer to be acknowledged and we want to make sure that we are showing appreciation to our teams in a way that is valued.”

Vital Actions

“For areas looking to make improvements, finding ways to focus on developing a fun, inclusive environment, like these two areas have, is a great way to start,” said Sturgis. “Seeing all of the ways that faculty and staff come together to support each other and our patients is truly inspiring, and I hope other areas can find ways to incorporate these ideas into their own engagement initiatives.” 

If you have not already submitted an improvement plan, be sure to log into the Press Ganey portal and submit one as soon as possible.

Plans can be submitted by logging into the Press Ganey portal and navigating to the “department hierarchy.” The improvement planning tool is only available in the department hierarchy, not the manager hierarchy. Search for your department and then click on “improvement plans.” 

Detailed instructions on how to submit a plan and additional resources are available on the Employee Engagement website.

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