What will it take for us to learn that employees, regardless of position need to be on the same page? That principals, teachers, admin support and the school janitor are working for the same purpose? That the CEO, directors, IT personnel, finance officers and front-line staff are all needed for the company to be successful? That patients need doctors, nurses, and technicians to work together for their wellbeing?
Last month, I wrote about the report “For Patients’ Sake,” written by Tony Dagnone, Saskatchewan’s Patient First Review Commissioner. The key message of his review was to put patients first. The Commissioner recommended a health care system designed to make the patient the centre of care and not the people who deliver the care – as he says it currently is.
In the United States, the Joint Commission, a non-profit, independent group that accredits and certifies 17,000 health care organizations, created zero-tolerance policies in regards to intimidating and disruptive behaviours between medical staff. Now a year later, the American College of Physician Executives has just released the results of a national survey of 13,000 physician and nurse executives. Bad behaviour still exists and it is still having a negative effect.
As reported on the American Medical News site, the findings renew questions about how to deal with issues arising from the doctor / nurse relationship. The results also point to the lack of effect of the zero-tolerance policies.
Practically all (97%) of respondents experienced unprofessional outbursts and overreactions. Some experienced this several times a year, whereas others experienced it weekly. Degrading comments and insults, yelling, cursing, and inappropriate joking were at the top of the list. Some refused to work or speak with a colleague, whereas others tried to get someone unjustly disciplined or fired. Adults were throwing objects, spreading rumors. Sexual harassment was identified.
This is from a group of professionals who took the Hippocratic Oath or chose a career because they wanted to be of service to others. What happened?
To me, there is more to be concerned about than compliance to a zero-tolerance policy. Something has gone very wrong. And we know that simply telling someone to change their behaviour is not going to change it.
What would happen if we put the patient first? Truly put the patient first? If we remembered why we went into this profession in the first place? If we got to the heart of what matters about our work? If we started to see our work as an act of service? If we adopted the attitude that our work is about the patient, and not us? If we became interested in and supportive to our colleagues?
What would happen if our leaders and management focused on inspiring us, rather than disciplining us? If they really heard what we are up against? If they supported us to put the patient first? If they supported and recognized the team? If they saw their work as serving the medical profession?
Everything would change. Behaviour would change instantly. Patient care would improve over night. Relationships would develop and grow.
I have been researching and promoting spirit at work – that sense that our work is engaging and meaningful and that we can make a difference through our work – for a decade. Not only can we increase spirit at work, as it goes up, so too does job satisfaction, organizational commitment, teamwork and morale. At the same time, absenteeism and turnover go down.
The Spirit at Work program has been implemented in health care with incredible results. Download the Promise of Spirit at Work: Increasing Job Satisfaction and Organizational Commitment and Reducing Turnover and Absenteeism in Long-term Care from http://www.kaizensolutions.org/publications.htm
This does not have to be the experience in health care and patients should be able to expect more.
Val Kinjerski, PhD, is a leading authority in the field of employee engagement and on the topic of “spirit at work.” A consultant, agent of change and inspirational speaker, she helps companies and organizations increase employee retention and boost productivity by reigniting employees’ love for their work. Check out her Spirit at Work Program and Inspired Leadership training at www.kaizensolutions.org. Val is the author of Rethinking Your Work and Rethinking Your Work Guidebook. Available now at www.rethinkingyourwork.com and www.amazon.com .