The Food Services team
In May, Human Resources (HR) will once again conduct a hospital-wide survey, marking the fifth time since 1999 that Children's Hospital Boston has asked for feedback from all employees, staff and volunteers.
HR is looking forward to hearing from everyone this year, and it's easy to see why: The survey results really do matter. In fact, upper management looks at them as a report card on how well they are performing. "One thing we heard loud and clear from our employees in the 2006 survey was that they wanted their leaders to communicate more—and more effectively—about everything from the events that impact their day-to-day work to the long-term future of the hospital," says Chief Operating Officer Sandra Fenwick. "In response, we developed a number of initiatives that we think will help leaders better share the information their employees need to do their jobs and feel connected to this institution. My hope is that these initiatives will contribute to an improvement in communication ratings on the 2008 survey."
One department in particular took the results to heart and has steadily been implementing changes since the findings were shared with directors. "We looked at categories that had the lowest scores in our department, including leadership," says Shawn Goldrick, director of Food Services. In talking to his employees about their feelings of dissatisfaction, he found that their concerns came down to matters of trust and respect, so in order to create a feeling of trust, he worked to improve his department's communication. "Our managers and supervisors weren't always on the same page," he says. "For example, a policy might be
communicated in different ways by different managers. So we implemented daily briefings with managers to give us one voice."
Goldrick then changed his department-wide meeting structure to encourage open communication, adding a feedback session so people could voice their opinions and concerns. "We also changed the meetings to lead off with 'Would anybody like to recognize someone on the team?' It's great for people to get a chance to talk positively," he says. Goldrick also pulled together an employee group to make sure everyone's voice would be heard. Now, seven peer-nominated employees meet with him once a month to strategize about goals and initiatives. In response to their recommendations about how to make employees feel recognized and respected, Goldrick started sending thank-you cards to one employee's home per week to tell them how much they are appreciated. "It's a surprise for them when they get home—it really makes a difference in morale," he says.
The issue of respect was harder to tackle. "The group felt that we weren't respected organizationally or looked at as part of the infrastructure of the hospital," Goldrick says. "Sometimes it's small things, like we'll ask customers to put their salads on the scales and they'll lash out as us." Food Services employees knew that while they couldn't control customers' outbursts, they could control how they were perceived. So the department embarked on a PR campaign. They changed their uniforms to a flashy blue shirt bearing the logo "Food Service Professionals" and adopted the motto "bring excellence every day." "The idea was that if we could live up to our new professional name, we could then reach out and say, 'Hey look at us! We were featured in Children's News for five straight months and appeared on the Mid-week Morning Show.' It gave our employees a real sense of pride."
In order to help his team feel more connected to the hospital's core mission, Goldrick is creating opportunities to interact with patients by having his staff do food demonstrations on patient floors. During past events, Food Services employees taught patients how to decorate cupcakes, cook homemade pasta and make fruit kebabs. Also, in November, Food Services hosted the Café's first celebrity chef event, when the department teamed up with renowned chefs from Legal Sea Foods to cook dishes from the restaurant's menu for employees and patients. Finally, during Food Service Workers Week, they made a patient the honorary judge of their Iron Chef competition, and two patient families came down to the Café to give testimonials about what Food Services meant to them. "We all shed a tear that day; it was really emotional," Goldrick says. "Basically, we're riding this great wave and are realizing that we are respected in the organization. Culture change takes time, but it's working."
• To increase two-way communication, HR sponsors two monthly lunches with Sandra Fenwick, one for employees and one for managers. These are opportunities for senior management to hear directly from employees and for employees to communicate face-to-face with Fenwick in an informal setting.
• HR and Exceptional Care, Exceptional Service (ECES) rolled out the Employee of the Month program to recognize employees who exemplify the ECES values. A less formal program for "on the spot" employee recognition is under development.
• The new hospital-paid short-term disability program ensures that eligible employees will have income protection while on maternity leave. A separate vision plan and enhancements to the tuition assistance program were added.
• A Five-Part Manager Series was introduced last year and is the first of many new management and leadership training initiatives planned for roll-out in 2008. Under development right now are Management 101 and Is Management for Me?
Look for details about the '08 survey in upcoming issues of Children's News.