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5-Step Guide to Engaging Nurses

By Jennifer Thew RN  
   April 01, 2018

Today, leaders continue to round on their employees, and all employees get face-to-face time with their supervisor each month. 

The meetings focus on a standard set of questions:

  • What's working well?
  • Who would you like to recognize?
  • What systems are working or broken?
  • What tools and equipment do you need?

"It's the kind of questions that will get at the heart of what's getting in the way of the employee doing meaningful, value-based work, and being recognized for it," Crabbe says. 

Step 3: Make communication transparent

Leaders at Appalachian Regional have standardized communication boards in each department that articulate the organization's vision to employees, and that same information is covered during rounding. 

The health system's CEO began hosting quarterly town hall meetings to which all employees were invited. Those meetings have evolved from canned questions to uncensored back-and-forth dialogue.

"When we first had town halls, we would ask people to send their questions in advance, and we would answer them in a scripted way," Crabbe says. "Now we're just to the point where we just open up the floor and ask, ‘What's on your mind? What do we need to do?' "

Crabbe says this is evidence that trust has formed between leadership and staff.

Step 4: Give recognition where it's due

To thank employees for their work to improve care outcomes, leaders have put their money where their mouths are. 

In the first year after committing to revamp its vision and leadership team, Appalachian Regional found itself with a $2 million budget surplus due to a 2% increase over budget in operating margin. 

Without hesitation, the CEO at the time said, "We're going to give it back to the employees that got us there," Crabbe recalls. 

"It was a great day for Kim and I and our whole leadership team. We stood in our auditorium, and by surprise, we handed out $500 checks to every single employee."

However, recognition does not always have to come with money attached.

Thanks to her rounding, Bianca knows the names of the employees involved in patient care, and she takes the time to send them handwritten thank-you notes. 

"People really do appreciate it, and they really feel very special when they get one of those notes at their house," Bianca says.

Jennifer Thew, RN, is the senior nursing editor at HealthLeaders.


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