Hospital employee survey shows room for improvement

Bartlett Regional Hospital (Photo by Heather Bryant/KTOO)

Bartlett Regional Hospital (Photo by Heather Bryant/KTOO)

A Bartlett Regional Hospital survey shows employees think the atmosphere of trust in the organization is adequate – not excellent, not poor, but leaning towards needing improvement. This comes one year after the city hired an investigator to look into complaints of a hostile work environment.

During a regular meeting Tuesday night, the hospital board heard results of an organizational culture survey measuring areas like morale, information flow and customer service.

An organization conducts a culture survey to explore some key questions.

“When you come to work, how much of yourself do you really bring to work? How engaged are you?” asks Mila Cosgrove, human resources director at Bartlett Regional Hospital.

She says an organization with engaged employees has high rates of retention and low rates of workplace accidents and sick leave.

The survey information, she says, is good for management and leadership teams.

“Leaders tend to view their organizations more positively than line workers, so when you go out and you ask your employee population, ‘Hey, what do you think about working here?’ you get a different view, potentially, of how you might view the organization and I think there’s a lot of value in that as well. It helps us ascertain what we’re doing well, what we could be doing better,” Cosgrove says.

Scores ranged between one and five – one indicating serious problems and five indicating excellent performance. Of the seven questions in the morale category, the one on atmosphere of trust in the organization scored the lowest with an average of just under 3.1.

Morale is considered a critical area of the organization's culture. (Chart courtesy of Bartlett Regional Hospital)

Morale is considered a critical area of the organization’s culture. (Chart courtesy of Bartlett Regional Hospital)

New Bartlett CEO Chuck Bill says that’s an area he’s paying attention to and something he was asked about during interviews before he joined the hospital in mid-May.

“My intent obviously is to build a culture of trust and a culture of mutual support and I think we’re well down that pathway with the employees. I mean, we’ve got to focus on taking care of the patient. We obviously need great, engaged employees who love to come to work to do that do well,” Bill says.

One year ago, the hospital conducted a personnel investigation into allegations of a hostile work environment created by senior leadership officials. Bill says he hasn’t felt any remains of that sentiment.

“If it was out there, I think people did a really good job of putting that behind them and saying, ‘Let’s move forward enthusiastically together,'” he says.

Bill says it’s challenging to join a team that had leadership problems, but says outstanding personnel issues have been resolved and the hospital is moving forward productively. He did not identify what the issues were.

Of the roughly 500 employees at Bartlett, about 80 percent participated in the survey over a two week period in the spring. It was distributed though work email and employees filled it out online. Participation was anonymous.

Hospital employees were surveyed on various categories of work culture. The scores ranged from a low of 1.0 to a high of 5.0. (Graph courtesy of Bartlett Regional Hospital)

Hospital employees were surveyed on various categories of work culture. The scores ranged from a low of 1.0 to a high of 5.0. (Graph courtesy of Bartlett Regional Hospital)

The category with the highest score was customer service, which, Cosgrove says, doesn’t surprise her, “because people are really rating their own care for others. That one always is higher on surveys that I look at, and that’s a good thing. You want people to take pride in their work.”

The category with the lowest score was information flow.

“Not surprising,” says Cosgrove. “It’s difficult in any organization to make sure that there’s enough communication.”

Following last summer’s personnel investigation, the board directed the CEO at the time, Chris Harff, to communicate better with employees and to the community.

The City and Borough of Juneau started doing culture surveys in 2002 and has done one annually since 2007. Cosgrove says the hospital conducted one a year and a half ago through Press Ganey, a patient experience improvement firm. This is the first time the hospital is doing one based on the city’s model. Cosgrove says it’s more cost effective and a better fit overall. This year’s results will establish a baseline.

Most of the eight categories scored above a 3.5, like teamwork, supervision and quality of care. The overall culture score is 3.6. This figure leads Cosgrove to think employees are generally happy.

“I think if you stopped a random employee in the hall and said, ‘Why do you come to work?’ I think they would be able to tell you that, that they value what they do and they make a difference,” Cosgrove says.

The survey results are useful but, Cosgrove says, what’s most important is how that information is used to move organizational culture from good to excellent.

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