The Key To Surviving These Uncertain Times? Inviting Your Hospital Staff Into The Decision-Making Process.


Stamford Hospital improves patient experience by focusing on organizational culture and staff engagement

Stamford Hospital for several years has focused on two strategic priorities, with the goal of improving the patient experience: our organizational culture and engagement of the staff.

Due to the recent imposition of a hospital tax in the state of Connecticut, both priorities were powerfully brought to the fore, and provide good illustrations of where we’re going as a leading medical institution.

Faced with budget restrictions, the hospital solicited input from all levels of staff

Because of the tax, Stamford Hospital is now facing a budget shortfall. In the past, one solution would have been to cut the budget, potentially eliminating positions and laying off workers.

This time, though, we decided to try something new. In looking for alternative ways to cut expenditures, we took the problem directly to our staff. This grew out of the hard work we’ve done recently on “trust” in our organization. It’s a known fact that the more your healthcare employees trust senior leadership and feel engaged with them, the more likely they will have good experiences with patients.

So we went to the staff and held rallies. We started with the directors, then took it down a level to managers and supervisors. This was the first time senior leadership actually brought lower levels into the room and asked for their help in solving a problem.

The result? A tremendous amount of energy came forth, which truly inspired us. They really wanted to help us solve this problem!

We also engaged the Healthcare Advisory Board from Washington to come in and do a brainstorming session with the managers and directors, examining what other organizations currently are doing to streamline costs, grow volume and improve services.

Entire staff was engaged in the process, meaning that they were totally behind the solutions

This sparked some ideas on the part of the staff, and they came back with some really good ideas on how they could close the budget shortfall. What was key was the fact that they were truly engaged in solving the problem, so that when we unveiled the solutions we had collectively come up with, they owned a piece of them. And as a result of owning a piece of them, there was very minimal pushback on any of the changes.

The crucial outcome from this endeavor: As a result of the staff’s ideas and input, Stamford Hospital was able to cut costs and avoid a layoff (unlike other Connecticut hospitals). And the staff wasn’t expecting that. They were so grateful that we were able to do this with them, without resorting to a layoff. It was terrific.

Senior hospital leadership discovered that staff involvement is the key to a successful culture

Without a doubt, senior leadership learned a powerful lesson here: To truly have a successful culture, you can’t just talk it. You have to get the engagement of the rank-and-file, have frank conversations with them about what is going on, and ask for their help when there’s a problem to be solved.

It’s really the only way for the organization to have the foundation and loyalty you want it to have.

The information contained in this blog represents the personal views of the contributor, and is not intended to reflect the opinions or position of any other contributor or organization.