Employee Engagement Program is a Good Investment
There is no doubt that this a time of serious belt tightening for many companies. Even healthcare with its reputation of being recession proof has seen cutbacks in staffing to reduce expenses. One reason for staff reductions is that hospital censuses have dropped as unemployed, uninsured and under-insured individuals have avoided going to the hospital for all but medical emergencies. But that's another story.
However in the same way that employers reduce staff on the fly, employees are jumping ship at the first sign of insecurity or major organizational change. Despite (or because of) this willingness of employees to jump ship it is important for organizations to invest in their employees and reward their best workers.
I recently read an interview with Bill Logue, the CEO of FedEx Freight. He said, "Our employees are our brand. Every day these employees come across challenges and the way they solve these problems, the way they impress our customers (positively or negatively), is a reflection on our brand and our company." He explained how FedEx expends real effort to make their employees fully engaged, and gave their successful strategies for rewarding employees.
Logue is convinced that despite economic challenges investment in employee engagement is good business. He believes, "If you take care of your people, they'll take great care serving the public, the company will generate a profit and that's a win-win situation."
The CEO's formula is remarkably simple, but has worked for this multi-billion company and can work for your organization as well. First, empower employees to be creative about meeting customer needs. Sure there are policies to be followed. Sure you cannot allow everyone to authorize huge expenditures, but employees should be empowered (and even encouraged) to address customer concerns and make things right at the point of service. If complaints have to move up the chain for resolution, it is more likely the organization will end up with an unhappy customer or even lose that customer completely. The same applies for a patient. Think about the typical patient who has to jump through hoops to see a manager or be told , "We'll investigate and get back to you."
Next FedEx visibly celebrates exemplary employees. They use emails, company newsletters and the like to highlight good employees or outstanding examples of service excellence. An employee can be recognized by his manage, another manager, or his peer, so modesty or favoritism are minimized. This Public recognition rewards the employee and provides a model for other employees.
Next the company asks employees to submit ideas for service improvement, cost savings or improving organizational efficiency. Contributions are featured on the company's website and the winner each month wins a monetary reward.
It is no secret that employees who are fully engaged and committed to the organization's success can be pivotal factor in financial success. Of course engagement and incentive programs must be supported from the top down, must be very visible to staff and must be clearly communicated. These simple lessons from FedEx show the cost of empowering and recognizing employees is money well spent. I bet this would work for your lab as well.