Ask then Act: How UCHealth is advancing employee engagement

If you had to adapt your healthcare organization today to change the way you managed employee engagement, what would drive you to change?

This may be a loaded question, but consider this simple statement: the patient experience is only as good as the employee experience. BI Worldwide writes, “Employee engagement is what the business wants, and happiness is what the employees want.”

It’s likely that as a leader in the healthcare industry you are already motivated to try hard to create a positive experience for your staff. Still, shifting from older methods of promoting and measuring engagement can be daunting. Let us offer a story of one leader who jumped into the deep end and is finding the results to be well worth the effort to implement a change.

Matthew Gosney, Ed.D, is the VP of Organizational Development at UCHealth in Aurora, Colorado. UCHealth is an award-winning academic healthcare system with more than 20,000 employees, 9 hospitals, and over 100 clinics. Three more hospitals will be added to the system before March 2019.

Matthew Gosney and the UCHealth team knew their employees were constantly evaluating if they had a fair deal in the organization or not. They wanted to ensure that employees felt comfortable and confident so that they would bring that happiness and best effort to work. Matthew knew that this increased level of satisfaction typically leads to outstanding performance and better patient outcomes.

With employee satisfaction as a goal, UCHealth set some objectives for how they wanted to receive feedback and evolve their employee voice process.

“We wanted the results to be quickly accessible and easy to interpret. We didn’t want to hand our managers a Rosetta Stone and say ‘Good luck interpreting what your scores are’. We wanted to hand them something that they could quickly understand and see where their team was at.

We also wanted the results to happen in real time. We didn’t want to wait 3-4 months down the road before we got our results back. That’s a horribly inefficient process. It’s like your navigation system telling you that you should have turned 5 miles ago. It doesn’t allow us to make an appropriate change at a tactical level,” Matthew Gosney reflected.

UCHealth knew that when choosing a vendor they’d want to find someone that could help an organization of their size navigate through various locations and communities as well as multiple types of employees. They wanted to be able to ask their own questions and to be able to ask and interpret open-ended questions.

They also wanted their already busy staff to be able to take the assessments quickly and easily and compare with other units. After evaluating vendors, UCHealth decided on Waggl as their solution and came up with what they call the “Employee Voice Model.”

Matt Gosney explained the UCHealth wishlist of desired outcomes from employing Waggl as their pulse survey provider. They knew they wanted:

  • Engagement: A workforce excited about working for UCHealth that gives their best efforts
  • Trust and Transparency: Employees should know and trust that when they participate someone listens.
  • Immediacy: Employees should know that as soon as they make a suggestion or comment it gets acted upon.
  • Alignment: Maintaining communication and alignment throughout the entire organization is a critical value.

The Employee Voice Process began. Right away UCHealth took the surveys they’d been sending to employees and reduced the number of questions, from 45 questions to just six on each Waggl pulse survey.

“We chose six questions that were highly actionable and gave us a quick opportunity to engage our employees and get feedback fast. The pulse was open for two weeks and then we moved into the next phase which we called the engagement summit.

We brought leaders together in a forum led by the chief executive officer in their region for a root cause analysis and best practice conversation.”

The UCHealth engagement summit gave clear alignment. With a CEO led conversation employees knew their feedback was important, and that leadership knew what problems needed to be addressed. It also modeled for leaders in the organization how to go back and have the same conversations with their staff.

A month after that first pulse survey, leaders went back to employees and asked, ‘Has anyone talked to you about your employee voice results?’ This created transparency and accountability. Then we repeated the process all over again. The 2nd check-in we asked ‘Have any changes been implemented, and what impact has it had on your team?’”

The entire process of the UCHealth pilot ran in a very abbreviated timeframe. Matthew Gosney explained: “We had very little expectation that we were going to drive engagement noticeably, really we were looking at an action check-in.”

“We were, frankly, astounded to see that we did improve employee engagement. We improved by a notable amount, and we improved across the board. Across all of our questions, we saw improvement between 2-4%. That includes ‘enthusiasm,’ which is actually the engagement question: ‘Are you enthusiastic about working for UCHealth?’ There we saw 4% improvement.”

UCHealth knows that healthcare is a 24/7 365 days a year business. Leaders can’t be with their staff all the time, which is why driving engagement is so crucial. Using Waggl, they improved engagement throughout the organization to above the global benchmark in a very short amount of time. They also saw an increase in patient satisfaction scores as engagement increased.

This story is just the beginning for UCHealth. After the results of this initial pilot showed such progress, Waggl was launched to the entire organization. With high participation rates and a commitment from leaders to listen to and value the employee voice process, the UCHealth story is one of the most exciting stories in healthcare to follow.

Are you ready to transform your healthcare organization? Contact us for a demo to learn why Waggl is the #1 solution for engagement in healthcare.