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Mission Health’s compassionate leadership creates high workforce engagement

Mission Health’s compassionate leadership creates high workforce engagement

As care providers report record rates of burnout, placing an emphasis on workforce engagement is increasingly important. At Mission Health’s Yates Center Health and Rehab, leaders are committed to understanding their frontline care teams to maintain a motivated and dedicated workforce. This approach is yielding impressive results.

In the last three years, Yates Center Health and Rehab saw a 37% top box score increase in making employee workloads reasonable and a 33% top box score increase in creating employee opportunities—an exceptional achievement for any organization, especially through COVID.

Yates Center Health and Rehab offers 24/7 nursing care to long-term and short-stay residents, with specialized programs such as orthopedic care, cardiac pulmonary management, wound-care management, and IV therapy. They also offer physical therapy, occupational speech therapy, tailored activities, social services, dining/meal services, housekeeping, laundry, and spiritual enrichment.

“I think workforce engagement is about understanding what drives our employees, their struggles, and what they celebrate,” says Nicki Jacobs, a Yates Center Health and Rehab administrator. “Just understanding them creates that engagement. They feel valued, they feel worthy, they matter. They feel their work matters.”

A Commitment to Employee Engagement

Jacobs says that employee engagement is the mutual commitment made by the company to the employee and the employee to the organization and the organization’s goals.

“This commitment is important because it allows us to measure the strength of our employees mentally and emotionally, and that connection that they have with their teams, the work they’re doing, and the company they’re working for,” she says. “Employees who feel connected to their organizations perform better, stay longer, and help create an environment where others want to stay and work. It’s an important aspect of our organization and the building block to our success. It increases profitability, creates an amazing customer experience, reduces employee turnover, and so much more. It’s just vital.”

Emily Sevy, Regional Director of Business Development for Mission Health, says that the partnership between Mission Health and NRC Health is critical because employee engagement is incredibly difficult to track and trend. Mission Health uses NRC Health’s Workforce capabilities, which encompass an annual engagement survey, scalable tools to share patient appreciation, and a continuous, confidentially conducted survey with employees. The scorecards, tools, and analytics provide key metrics for measuring performance, which helps reduce turnover, facilitate culture change, improve performance, and cultivate Human Understanding.

“I think workforce engagement is about understanding what drives our employees, their struggles, and what they celebrate,” says Nicki Jacobs, a Yates Center Health and Rehab administrator. “Just understanding them creates that engagement. They feel valued, they feel worthy, they matter. They feel their work matters.”

Tools to Strengthen Workforce Stamina

“It’s such an awesome tool that NRC Health provides that we love the opportunity to take advantage of, because otherwise, it’s kind of a shot in the dark whether we know which avenue to pursue or where an employee doesn’t and does feel heard,” Jacobs says. “I think it’s important for us to pay careful attention to the behaviors and attitudes of our employees and watch their emotional and mental well-being. Everybody can have a bad day, but when you see that culminating in a string of bad days or even months, you know it’s time to sit down and find out what’s going on, and the root of the problem. I’ve found through doing that most times, just talking it through and hearing their side gives us a new lens to look through—it not only helps us navigate a better way, but they also feel heard and valued.”

The employee-engagement survey helps Mission Health identify “low-hanging fruit,” as well as issues that may take a bit more work, but which provide them with a direction to go in.

“I deliver the employee surveys face to face,” Jacobs says. “I explain how important their feedback is to us, how we use the data to improve the workplace, and how it helps us identify where we’re not doing so well and where we’re doing pretty well—I tell them that we can’t get better if we don’t know the negative. I think another important thing to them is knowing that it’s completely confidential. I also ask them to put in as much detail as possible, because the more we know, the more we can improve. I want to know all the details. So I think all that is helpful in getting open-ended feedback.”

“Burnout is a very real thing in our industry,” Jacobs says. “It’s hard work, and sometimes thankless work. So I think when a person is engaged, they feel valued, they feel like the work they’re doing matters, and that means a lot to them—to know that what they are doing matters to somebody. They know their presence is needed, which makes them stay and continue the hard work.”

Benefits of Workplace Contentment

Jacobs says that Yates Center Health and Rehab employees are the organization’s biggest advocates for attracting new talent, promoting its culture, and demonstrating a compassionate workplace.

“When we need more CNAs, employees call their CNA friends and say, ‘Hey, this is the best place I’ve ever worked. You should really come try it out,’” she says. “They really are our selling point.”

Highly engaged employees are offered additional responsibilities and often move up. Jacobs describes an employee who started as a dietary aide. Recognizing her potential, leaders asked her if she’d ever thought about being a CNA. She told them her ultimate goal was to be a nurse—so they got her into CNA classes with a fully funded program and paid her to take them.

“She got her CNA class, and now she’s one of our mentors,” Jacobs says. “She’s looking at going through Capella University to get some nursing courses. I think growing employees like that shows them that we see their potential and want to see them grow in their own personal paths.”

10 Employee Engagement Strategies Implemented by Mission Health

  1. Monthly new-employee luncheons to welcome new team members.
  2. One-on-one leadership meetings with new hires over lunch. Employees are asked what they like about working there, as well as their not-so-favorite parts—which helps build relationships, make them feel valued, and plant the seeds of engagement.
  3. A “shout-out board,” where anyone can write a compliment for someone who has gone above and beyond.
  4. A mentor program for highly engaged employees to show them the Mission Health experience—which comes with a pay raise.
  5. An Employee of the Month recognition program to reward employees.
  6. Professional growth opportunities with CNA and CMA classes. “If we see somebody in dietary work who would make a good certified dietary manager, we offer to pay for those classes,” Jacobs says.
  7. Six-month check-ins to see how things are going. “We’re a small facility, and most days, employees see us side-by-side with them—whether pushing a resident down the hall, delivering room trays, or running a vacuum,” Jacobs says. “
  8. Paying attention to where employees are going to thrive. Sometimes employees aren’t a good fit in one area, but that doesn’t mean they couldn’t grow and prosper in a different area, Jacobs notes.
  9. Follow-through once feedback has been given on daily tactical operations.
  10. Acknowledging patient deaths, providing space for grieving among staff, and holding memorial services to check in with employees and see how they’re doing after a loss.

Treating Everyone with Human Understanding

Jacobs says she thinks listening to employees about their struggles and looking for solutions outside the box is imperative.

“I think that goes a long way—and then when we start seeing people with burnout, or maybe not being as mentally and emotionally available as they were before, we have the mental-health services through our Yapp app or Teledoc that allow us to say, ‘Hey, it might not hurt to talk this through. They may give you some strategies and tips to help you through that burnout,’” she says. “Mission Health is really good about sending out little regular tips on how to reduce work stress, and I think sharing those with our team is important.”

She adds that the workforce-engagement scores and metrics provided by NRC Health have helped Mission Health’s leaders grow and become better at what they do.

“We’re more conscious of the needs of our employees, their struggles, and what makes our work environment a positive place to work,” she says. “I think it’s helped us create more deliberate strategies to improve and build our community.”