Progressive Leader Spotlight: Rick D. Smith

Rick D. Smith helps to manage HR operations for 8,000 people. He works to strategically align the huge group around a common purpose: providing excellent innovative care.

Progressive Leader Spotlight: Rick D. Smith


University of Utah Health provides exceptional patient care for residents of Utah and five surrounding states. Consistently ranked among US News & World Report’s Best Hospitals, University of Utah Health offers highly specialized treatments and operates four hospital facilities, several clinics, and the academic support responsible for training the next generation of medical professionals.


Within this complex organization, Rick Smith holds a unique role in HR. It’s one that has him overseeing HR strategy for 8,000 staff, medical professionals, and students on campus. He reports to the chief human resource officer for campus, Jeff Herring, and the CEO of University of Utah Health, Dr. Vivian Lee.


What does that strategy entail? Rick oversees performance management, training programs, and the vital work of engagement. It’s difficult to overstate just how important an engaged medical community is, and when Rick heard of Waggl he immediately picked up on the possibilities it held as a tool to engage in a variety of scenarios.


Rick is no stranger to being part of a large organization. For 25 years he was part of the U.S. Navy, with ten of those years being active duty. This experience seems to inform his work in Utah as he calmly and effectively manages to lead operations for a large percentage of the organization.


Despite the tight ship in Utah, Rick insists operations don’t always feel as organized as they appear. “Waggl helps by summarizing a great deal of input rapidly. People are reading each others’ comments and voting them up, and the feedback becomes extremely actionable,” he said.


Rick explained “Something that’s kept us excited about Waggl is the whole way people get into participating in pulses. Some of our earliest pulses went out to the physician population, a group of people that are traditionally averse to surveys. We sent out a pulse to determine how valued they felt, and the engagement was really high.”


“In the time since we’ve had Waggl we’ve implemented a lot of new programs and initiatives that have elevated the experience faculty, staff, students, patients have at University of Utah Health.”


University of Utah Health team is about to embark on an innovative realm of strategy called “embedded HR.” This service will put teams of HR professionals on location throughout the organization instead of having them all in one centralized location. This will enable HR to work side by side with the professionals they help manage and offer more integrated HR solutions.


Waggl is currently being used at University of Utah Health in a variety of creative formats including marketing, and ongoing employee orientation status reports. Looking towards the future they are looking to further engage Waggl as a communication agent that can keep the entire community engaged and aligned on a frequent basis. We’re grateful to Rick for introducing Waggl into a community that is committed to pioneering innovative in healthcare.


You can find out more about the remarkable work being done at University of Utah Health, or check out our integrated solutions for healthcare at the Healthcare Hive page on our website.