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A Dozen Low- or No-cost Ways to Engage Employees, Community

Gienna Shaw, for HealthLeaders Media, May 6, 2009

It's always nice to come home from a conference with a few ideas that you can implement quickly and inexpensively, especially in this economy. I was at the 2009 PRC client education conference in New Orleans this week where I collected a bunch of them for you. And some of them aren't just inexpensive—they're free.

Opening keynote speaker, author Barbara Glanz, told the audience that many managers think that employees' primary motivator is money and job security—two things many employers have little control over today. But when you ask employees, their top motivators are interesting work and appreciation.

How you treat your employees has a direct impact on how they treat patients. And how your organization treats patients has a direct impact on the bottom line.

Here are a few of her low- or no-cost tips on employee engagement and satisfaction.

  • Make employees happy: Start every meeting with three minutes of good news
  • Show respect for your employees as human beings with a life outside of work: Find out what each of your employees is passionate about.
  • Say good morning to your employees: Glanz cited a survey of 1,200 people in which 7% said they quit their jobs because their boss didn't pay them this simple courtesy.
  • Lighten up: No, work isn't all fun and games, but it doesn't have to be no fun and games at all.
  • Show appreciation for sacrifices: Thank employees' families when they've been working longer-than-usual hours.
  • Check your attitude: Are you "contagiously enthusiastic" about the important work you and your team is doing?
  • Give out lollypops to people who seem to be having a tough day: "You cannot crab with a lollypop hanging out of your mouth," Glanz says.

Bucyrus (OH) Community Hospital's HealthLink community outreach program manager Tammi Wolfe and Nate Roshon, PR and marketing coordinator at BCH, spoke at a session on community outreach, which helped change the perception of their hospital from a "Band-Aid factory" to the healthcare provider of choice in their market. BHC has enjoyed great success with its health events, which are eagerly anticipated and very well-attended in the community. Although the events themselves aren't free, they did offer some low- and no-cost ways to promote the events:

  • Listen up: Get to know and keep in touch with your community and what residents want.
  • Be creative: The hospital used prison inmates to help them paint wooden snowmen that decorate the hospital during the holidays. The materials cost $45.
  • Don't rely solely on traditional advertising: BCH found that ads in newspapers didn't attract nearly as many attendees as flyers in physicians' offices.
  • Keep those sponsors happy: Don't forget to invite VIPs from sponsoring companies and other stakeholders, such as board members, to events.
  • Talk up events all year round: Start promoting next year's event at this year's event to create buzz and generate word of mouth.

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