By Barbara Balik, Jim Conway, Lorri Zipperer, Joanne Watson

Hospital achieves high employee satisfaction by supporting staff in achieving their professional aspirations and personal goals, as well as hiring people who are committed to patient- and family-centered care.

Griffin Hospital is a 160-bed acute care community hospital in Derby, Conn., and the nation's first hospital to follow the Planetree patient-centered care model of supporting individuals who wish to learn more about health care and medicine to become active participants in their own care.

Griffin has been recognized for providing superior patient care-defined as exceptional clinical outcomes in the top 1 percent of all hospitals in the United States. But the hospital also has created a culture of caring and supporting its employees.

Engaging the Hearts and Minds of Staff

People working in health care must feel supported to be compassionate care providers. They are more effective in their work, provide safer care, and achieve a better patient and family experience if they find a match between their personal values and those of the organization, are supported by effective systems, and are recognized for the work they do.

Organizations that are recognized as best employers understand that hiring for fit with values is an essential first step. Leaders are responsible for systems to recruit, select, develop, and retain people who share a commitment to understanding the patient and family experience.

For 10 years in a row, Griffin has been listed on Fortune magazine's "100 Best Companies to Work For." Peers participate in hiring new employees, using behavior-based interview questions that ask people to describe behaviors-for example, "Share a time you felt you were providing patient-centered care."

Griffin demonstrates its commitment to developing a common vision consistent with the personal values of employees by supporting staff members in achieving their professional aspirations and personal goals. The hospital achieves this in three ways:

  • Hiring people who are committed to their mission of exceptional patient- and family-centered care
  • Providing clear expectations at orientation
  • Supporting ongoing development

Making Work Meaningful

Even though Griffin's pay rates are lower than those of surrounding healthcare organizations, hospital leadership and executives successfully engage staff by addressing the meaningfulness of work, developing staff personally and professionally, and building healthy interpersonal relationships.

After one staff retreat that focused on the whole person, not just who they are at work, one employee said, "I personally feel the course made me take a look at my life-personally and professionally-and made me rethink what is really important. I have made a few adjustments and feel much happier and more at peace with my life."

Barbara Balik, RN, EdD, is principal, Common Fire Healthcare Counseling, Albuquerque, N.M., and senior faculty member, Institute for Healthcare Improvement, Cambridge, Mass.

Jim Conway, MS, FACHE, is a senior fellow, Institute for Healthcare Improvement.

Lorri Zipperer, MA, is principal, Zipperer Project Management, Albuquerque, N.M.

Joanne Watson, MD, is clinical director of patient experience, Tauton & Somerset NHS Foundation Trust, Taunton, United Kingdom.

This article is excerpted with permission from the following resource: Balik, B., Conway, J., Zipperer, L., and Watson, J., Achieving an Exceptional Patient and Family Experience of Inpatient Hospital Care, Institute for Healthcare Improvement, 2011.


Publication Date: Wednesday, June 22, 2011