WHEN THE MANAGEMENT TEAM at Fort Walton Beach Medical Center got the results from HCA’s annual Employee Engagement Survey in 2011, they got some very specific marching orders. And they acted upon them, says Julia Truman, Vice President of Human Resources. “Our leadership team dove into the results in order to move forward in a specific and meaningful way.” Truman says. “Employee Engagement and specifically employee morale are critically important to our administrative team. We know that employee satisfaction and patient satisfaction go hand in hand.”

Fort Walton Beach Medical Center (FWBMC) employees said they wanted better communication and more of a voice in major hospital initiatives; more opportunities to grow and develop; and more visibility from the leadership team. To address these concerns, the hospital wanted to increase and promote employee-led teams and committees. FWBMC has an active EAG, a committee focused on reward and recognition (CPR), a nursing practice counsel, nursing peer review, revamped employee safety committee and a committee tasked with increasing employee development programs (Connections).

“We focused on our Mission and Values,” Truman says. “Everything from town halls to celebrations are linked to our Mission and Values. Our CEO, Mitch Mongell, reinforces at every meeting foundational statements such as: “It’s not bricks and mortar, but people that make a hospital” and “Good begets Good.” Our CNO, Holly McGucken, opens patient satisfaction meetings and huddles with ‘mission moments,’ anyone present can tell a story about how we are making a difference in the lives of our patients and community.”

In addition to town halls, communication at the hospital now includes a monthly employee newsletter, regular MOX updates and regular focus groups. The hospital has also beefed up its diversity plan, which is now a comprehensive set of initiatives that includes annual in-department training on cultural diversity and sensitivity.

There’s also the 360-365 action plans, which live in each department and keep teams focused on changes they said were important. “We wanted to focus on the whole hospital, on our team,” Truman says. “That’s a very different approach than just creating individual incentives.”

How well is everything working? The 2013 Employee Engagement Survey showed strong turnaround in almost every area, including a 12 percent rise in leadership confidence (16 percent for senior management), a 10 percent uptick in employees feeling they are being heard, and a 13 percent rise in positive outcomes.

“Everyone knows we are working together now, both in our departments and overall as a hospital,” Truman says. “When we achieve milestones we celebrate as a team.

“We know more people are taking time when answering the survey and we believe it is because they know we are listening to them,” she continues. “We are listening, and we are acting on feedback but that doesn’t mean that everything is perfect. We are on a journey and our employees are helping us create the roadmap every day. As a part of the North Florida Division we are very supported in our actions to improve employee engagement; we know that employee engagement is the cornerstone of patient and physician satisfaction.”

Making Visible Changes

The hospital also created new opportunities to get — and implement — feedback. Those include:

  • New committees and councils
  • Nursing peer review
  • Connections team
  • Nursing Practice Council
  • Revamped Employee Safety Committee
  • Rounding
  • Town Halls

The hospital also rolled out Patient Satisfaction and More Monthly celebrations to recognize achievements by individuals, departments and the entire staff.

Improving the Employee Role

To boost employee satisfaction, Fort Walton administrators knew they needed to increase employees’ roles in hospital operations. They asked everyone to do the following:

  • Participate in the Employee Engagement Survey
  • Attend town halls
  • Read employee newsletters
  • Attend HR forums and development sessions
  • Attend department meetings
  • Join committees, councils and focus groups