As we enter into the New Year, one of the things many healthcare HR departments will review, or just recently reviewed, are their annual employee satisfaction survey results. I interviewed Adrienne Cozart, VP of Human Resources at UMC Health System in Lubbock, Texas, to see how her healthcare organization encourages survey participation and organizes the process of surveying their healthcare employees.

UMC has utilized Press Ganey to conduct their annual employee satisfaction survey since 2002. “In our annual employee satisfaction survey, we are measuring employee satisfaction and engagement,” said Cozart. She went on to explain that there is one overall Hospital score and individual department scores. Some of the satisfaction questions look at systems and leadership, while some focus on resources (i.e. Do you have the right tools to do your job?). The UMC survey also looks at teamwork and direct supervisors. For engagement, there are questions based on the work employees perform and their engagement with co-workers and the hospital. For example: How satisfied are you with your job? My work makes good use of my skills and abilities. Are employees in my workgroup working well together? Do they attend meetings regularly? Do they express their concerns in the group? “It’s about reviewing the work in their department verse another department. Our survey looks at how meaningful their work is to them,” said Cozart.

It takes UMC several weeks to get the completed survey back. It’s important to analyze the responses and make the necessary and realistic changes to improve employee satisfaction, which is why UMC prioritizes their initiatives based on the survey results. “Not only do we look at how each department performs in the survey, we also look at all of the written comments. We also review the top 10 strengths and top 10 opportunities for improvement for the Hospital and the departments. For example, a hospital opportunity was the food cost in the cafeteria. This opportunity resulted in the implementation of a new employee discount program in the cafeteria. It gives employees a 10% saving on the food purchases. Another example is the employees told us that they wanted less out of pocket expenses for dental. After reviewing their comments, we improved the program. Employees have less out of pocket expenses under our revised dental program.

In addition to conducting their regular employee satisfaction survey, just over a year ago, UMC implemented Performance Manager from HealthcareSource to improve their performance management process. According to Cozart, a better performance management process was one of the issues that UMC highlighted on their survey results. Performance Manager helps organize the process and makes it easier for managers to access appraisals. “Using Performance Manager helped us improves our automated evaluation process. It’s an easier and simpler way to get performance information to our employees. It was difficult for some managers to move to an entirely paperless process, but now they’ve learned how to use Performance Manager and they love it,” said Cozart.

Performance Manager has also helped UMC employees. They can log into the system and find their performance evaluation and job description without the assistance of their manager or HR. “With performance management software, we’ve standardized the performance management process,” noted Cozart.

employee satisfaction in healthcare

UMC also makes the employee satisfaction survey fun to increase employee participation. “We use our Reward and Recognition Committee to launch and run the survey. They take the show on the road to make sure that we give all employees the opportunity to participate in the survey. We offer prizes for example; the first 50 employees that complete a survey are entered to win a lap top computer donated by one of our vendors. There are other smaller prizes offered during the survey week. We do all kinds of things to motivate employees to participate; our participation rate has been over 90 percent for more than 4 years,” said Cozart.

But the most important component of maintaining participation is that UMC employees know they’re listened to. Cozart noted, “The reason we have such a high-rate of participation is because employees know that we listen, and we will to take action on their issues and concerns. Unfortunately, we can’t do everything, but we try to do what is best for the employees and the organization. We remind employees post-survey of the outcomes from their issues and concerns.” For example, UMC’s managerial leadership training was revised based on employee feedback from the satisfaction survey.

Perhaps the most critical aspect of maintaining employee satisfaction is communicating with employees. “Listen to what your employees are saying about your processes or systems Communication and consistency about these things are critical to organizational success,” advised Cozart.

“The performance management process is a way of how we effectively communicate with our employees. Make sure performance appraisals are done on time by holding your managers accountable.” These things make a difference to your employees. As Cozart noted, “If you’re not doing these things successfully, employees will tell you on their satisfaction survey.”

About The Editorial Staff

The Editorial Staff is a team of writers with a passion for helping healthcare organizations manage their biggest and most important investment: their employees.