Hospital officials say a favorable staff-to-patient ratio, friendly, team-oriented culture, a transparent and accessible leadership group, and a strong investment in employee development are among the keys to recruitment and retention for Waynesboro (Pa.) Hospital, which is first on the list of Modern Healthcares inaugural Best Places to Work in Healthcare.
Best Places to Work: Focusing on the basics
Pa. hospital is modern ‘Mayberry’
An employee said to me, the other day, This is like a modern-day Mayberry, says Christine Miller, vice president for human resources. That individual has been here for about five years and still feels like its a pretty great place to be. We just try to do the basics and do them well.
When recruiting candidates, 64-bed Waynesboro always points out its staff-to-patient ratio and an emphasis on interpersonal relationships, says Miller, who recalls another conversation she had recently. I was talking with somebody, and they were saying, One of the great things about working here is, were not assembly-line medicine. Were able to connect with people and make sure theyre cared for as an individual. Our staffing levels make people feel like they can do the job they wanted to do.
The hospital encourages employees to treat their fellow employees as customers, just as they would patients, which helps engender a friendly environment, Miller says. We try to take people on tours during the interview process, she says. People are amazed by how friendly everybody is. They see a stranger in the hallway and people say Hi. We make people feel welcome.
The team-oriented culture comes into play during particularly busy periods, says Ken Shur, chief operating officer. When our census gets high, people without being asked will step in and help out. Thats part of the culture. Its hard to quantify that.
Waynesboro tries to focus on the basics when it comes to benefits, Miller says, paying an above-average share for healthcare premiums, providing four weeks of vacation to start, and contributing an automatic 3% of salary to an employees retirement account, matching up to another 3% at 50 cents on the dollar.
We dont put emphasis on those niche benefits, like somebody picking up your dry cleaning, Miller says. We go for those core benefits that are important to people, like healthcare, and time off and retirement. We take somewhat of a paternalistic approach to the retirement. Even if a person is not saving themselves, we do it on their behalf.
Miller mentions one benefit that she notes could be considered more of a niche offering: an employee-assistance program that brings counselors on-site twice per month as well as educational sessions throughout the year.
Waynesboro also sends massage therapists roving around the hospital once per month for anyone who could use a stress reducer. We try to take stuff to the employees, Miller says. We realize its difficult for them to get away.
Although the hospital tries to pay people competitively, Miller says the leadership team believes that poor relationships with supervisors are what prompt most employees to leave a job. Subordinates participate in job interviews with supervisory candidates to help ensure a comfort level, and Waynesboro provides management orientation training that encourages a constructive relationship, she says.
Weve moved away from language that focuses on discipline (to) focus on what you can do better, Miller says. That way, people dont get defensive.
This leadership development also shows a commitment to promoting from within, Shur says. Staff gets a very positive signal, he says. The relatively high percentage of female managers probably stems partly from this philosophy, Miller says, noting that most have been promoted from within their departments. I dont think theres been any master plan to promote women, per se, Shur says. We hire the best folks we can find.
Waynesboro and its parent organization, Summit Health, work to recruit nurses through grow your own programs at local nursing programs, supporting two faculty positions, and a program that pays licensed practical nurses their regular salary as they work toward an RN degree. Your full-time job is to get that degree, Miller says.
The leadership team attempts to make the rounds of the hospital, holding meetings periodicallyincluding some during off-shiftsand sharing the organizations financial performance, Shur says.
Were very visible, Shur says. Employees feel very comfortable stopping us and asking questions. We get great questions from staff because its clear they understand the industry. Were very open about how were doing financially.
Waynesboro offers a full-service gym through its parent organization, medical and dependent-care flexible spending accounts, and wellness programs focusing on everything from smoking cessation to healthy eating to walking programs. The hospitals educational- assistance programs provide up to $2,500 per year for tuition reimbursement as well as loans of up to $15,000.
We put a tremendous amount of money into the organization, Miller says. We try to provide (loans) to people in a situation thats going to help support the hospital. But we pretty liberally apply that to folks.
The hospital began a Biggest Loser contest modeled after the television show that provides prizes to those who lose the most weight, although even those who simply maintain their weight were recognized, Miller says.
A monthly Service Excellence award recognizes achievements aimed at patient satisfaction; one recent winner cut through red tape so that a grandmother could hear important test results before she was scheduled to join her family on vacation in the Outer Banks of North Carolina. She sent a postcard back, Shur says. Its the kind of thing that happens here on a regular basis.
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