PINEHURST - Employee engagement can make the difference between companies that stagnate or succeed. Engaged employees feel connected to company goals, have increased productivity levels and frequently go above and beyond set expectations.
Giving staff a means to provide feedback is an indispensable way to improve employee experience and engagement, and it’s an initiative FirstHealth of the Carolinas takes annually through a confidential employee opinion survey. The survey spans across the FirstHealth system, which encompasses multiple counties and more than 5,000 employees.
FirstHealth employee engagement rates hit an all-time high in 2020, a year when medical workers felt the brunt of the COVID-19 pandemic and national health care employee engagement averages continued to decline. FirstHealth achieved top decile results for the first time ever, scoring 4.35 on a 5-point scale, while the national average dropped to 4.10. This placed FirstHealth employee engagement at the 91st percentile in the Press Ganey database.
Press Ganey serves as a partner to more than 41,000 health care facilities, helping develop patient surveys and offering consulting services. Its goal is to create high-performance work environments and transform the patient experience.
FirstHealth Chief Executive Officer and Moore Regional Hospital President, Mickey Foster says that the culture of the workplace and employee engagement remains at the forefront of his priorities.
“These survey results reflect what I have personally experienced since I joined FirstHealth – a team whose dedication to our core purpose, to care for people, does not waiver,” Foster says. “Incredible things become possible with a workforce like that.”
Giving employees a chance to be heard is a year-round effort at FirstHealth, stretching far beyond the survey. Foster created “Meals with Mickey”, monthly meetings he holds specifically to share a meal with staff and discuss what would improve their employee satisfaction and experience. These meetings look a little different during the pandemic; the groups are smaller and there are no meals to be shared, but the sentiment remains the same.
Foster also started Walk In My Shoes, a program in which he spends time working alongside a FirstHealth employee with the purpose to hear about their work experience and better understand what a typical day in their position entails.
“I’ve been so impressed by the level of commitment shown by FirstHealth employees, physicians and volunteers,” Foster says. “That engagement extends throughout the system and makes it possible to reach record results, such as attaining a 32 percent reduction in harm events in the midst of a pandemic.”
Harm events include hospital-acquired infections, patient falls, allergic reactions and other instances of harm caused to a patient as a result of medical care. Foster aims to reach zero harm throughout the FirstHealth system.
Achieving consistently high patient satisfaction and recognition from Healthgrades, an esteemed health care rating organization, are additional milestones that wouldn’t be possible without a team of dedicated employees, he says.
“Despite the challenges of this year, we’ve taken major steps forward and we’ll continue to serve our communities with the highest quality care.”