The past year has been challenging for the economy and for business overall. Despite the downturn, some companies have managed to maintain a positive work environment with innovative programs that boost employee morale.
Baylor is one of these companies.
Baylor Health Care System, a faith-based, not-for-profit health care provider has kept their employees motivated by offering merit-based performance rewards and more. Becky Hall is Vice President of Talent Acquisition and Retention at Baylor Health Care System.
Monster: Amidst this year 's economic challenges, how has your company managed to maintain employee performance and satisfaction?
Becky Hall: Baylor keeps employees engaged and performing well by offering a pay-for-performance merit process and competitive benefits.
Our pay-for-performance merit process involves employees setting goals that tie into our system objectives around retention, quality care measures, patient satisfaction and financial responsibility. That way, employees can see how their work directly affects the company 's success. Employees who understand what is expected of them and receive regular feedback are more engaged and can make more informed daily decisions with their increased line of sight.
Also, while some companies have had to eliminate benefits to save costs, we haven 't. Our benefits still include competitive health plans, a rich wellness program, and a 401(k) plan with a dollar-for-dollar match up to 5%. For more than 20 years, we have offered flexible schedules so clinical employees can work the shift that 's best for them and their families.
Monster: Have employee recognition programs played a role?
Hall: Yes. We put a strong emphasis on providing excellent service to our patients and their families. We recognize service excellence with monthly Service Excellence Awards (SEA) of a $100 American Express Gift Card. Then the top monthly award recipients receive a quarterly award from our CEO, which is $2,500 and a luncheon with the CEO.
In fiscal year 2009, nearly 2,900 employees were recognized with monthly awards -- 105 of those earned quarterly awards. We also have employee picnics, monthly meals for staff, and recognition ceremonies.
Monster: Do you have any recommendations on how to initiate employee satisfaction and recognition programs on a limited budget?
Hall: Adopting the model for doctors doing patient rounds, managers regularly do employee "rounds " to make sure everything is going well. We ask employees for ideas they have for improvement and whether they have the tools they need to do their jobs. If a manager learns that someone was extra helpful to a coworker, the manager hand-writes a thank-you note and mails it to the employee 's home. Employees really like the gesture and have said very positive things about it.
Each hospital has its own recognition programs whose honorees are often nominated for cash Service Excellence Award. Before we instituted the SEA program, these recognition programs offered lower-cost awards such as pins that employees could wear on their badges or lunch with their President. These programs were well received and effective; we just wanted to put extra focus on service by implementing a system-wide cash award program.
Monster: What other efforts have helped your company maintain a positive workplace environment?
Hall: One of the most effective ways we have to maintain a positive workplace environment is to offer employees a variety of opportunities to influence decisions that affect their jobs. Every two years, we conduct an employee survey and then share the results. We then create an action-plan that involves every level of management.
The most impressive example of a change we made in response to our survey occurred in 2008. In late 2006, our employee survey showed dissatisfaction with our medical insurance options. We had eliminated a PPO plan and offered two different consumer-driven plans. We added a PPO plan to our 2008 medical insurance offerings and we saw a 32% jump in satisfaction with our medical benefits in the survey conducted later that year.
Non-management employees are encouraged to serve on staff advisory councils and partnership councils. They are consulted about decisions involving patient care, process improvement, equipment purchases and more.
In our environment, everyone has a voice, no matter what their role is. We listen and act on all our employees ' concerns.
Monster: Are there ways to build camaraderie when times get tough?
Hall: While it 's easy to lose sight of things during difficult times, we keep focused on our mission: to serve all people through exemplary health care, education, research and community service. Our employees are inspired by our mission, which doesn 't change when the economy changes.
Also, our employees often use the term "family " when referring to their coworkers. Everyone supports each other so we can all give exemplary care to our patients. If an employee is going through a health crisis or personal situation, it 's common for coworkers to help them out, support them or pray with them until they 've recovered. One employee even gave his manager a kidney.
Building camaraderie can be as simple as allowing employees to have fun together. Baylor Regional Medical Center at Grapevine recently held an employee dance video contest. Winning videos were shown at their monthly "town hall " meeting, which had the greatest attendance in recent history. There can be a reluctance to engage in these types of activities when times are tough, but that may be the very time such team-building activities are most needed.
Monster: Do you plan to maintain any new initiatives even after the economy recovers?
Hall: Yes. Our new initiatives such as a revamped performance management process, Service Excellence Award program and a first-ever system-wide new hire orientation program were driven by Baylor 's dedication to continuous improvement. They weren 't developed as a response to the economy.
Monster: Do you have any other recommendations for maintaining a great work environment in a downturn?
Hall: We recommend always maintaining a great work environment because happy employees take better care of their patients. So we focus on the talent management cycle by hiring the best person for the job, onboarding them quickly and effectively and motivating them with clear goals to help them see the value of the work that they do.
In terms of potential new hires, we use behavioral interviewing to help us focus on a candidate's past actions and observable behaviors, which are strong indicators of future performance and their cultural fit. Peer interviews give us another valuable perspective on a candidate 's potential fit with the team. We focus on getting our new hires quickly engaged with a well-designed orientation program. This sets them up for success by facilitating the development of productive working relationships and acclimating them to Baylor 's culture. Then, we set performance expectations that show employees the value of their work and we reward them for good performance.
About the Company
Baylor Health Care System is a faith-based, not-for-profit health care provider that exists to serve all people through exemplary health care, education, research and community service. The Baylor system is made up of 15 hospitals and more than 120 clinics united by our vision: to be trusted as the best place to give and receive safe, quality, compassionate health care.
About the Author
As Vice President of Talent Acquisition and Retention at Baylor Health Care System, Becky Hall provides strategic leadership and direction on short- and long-term work force planning. She led the focus on a new recruitment structure and processes along with retention programs that are critical for Baylor's continued success. Since joining Baylor in 2001, she has implemented significant changes in HR programs such as enhanced retirement savings plans and implementation of a consumer driven health plan while in various management positions. Her 20 years of business experience continues to influence the human resources programs needed to support Baylor's more than 19,000 employees and the changing health care industry.