Inside Scripps Health's award-winning employee engagement strategy

Scripps Health is one of 20 organizations nationally to be named a 2016 Advisory Board Workplace of the Year. What's behind Scripps' ability to highly engage more than half of its 13,000-employee workforce?

Keep reading to learn about Scripps' innovative 365-day approach to engagement—which supports frontline leaders in engaging staff and taps into the compelling link between staff engagement and patient experience.

Survey informs—but doesn't define—engagement strategy

While most organizations use engagement survey results to define targeted initiatives, Scripps has taken a more proactive approach by 1) hardwiring a series of ongoing initiatives that span multiple years, and 2) using the survey results to fine-tune those efforts.

At the center of this work is a quarterly all-manager meeting called a best practice forum, during which engagement is a consistent agenda item. Whether each forum is used to discuss survey results, share manager success stories, or teach facilitation skills, engagement is the common thread.

The forums are also a milestone in Scripps' manager action planning process, which is sustained by a year-round feedback loop between managers and senior leaders. For five years now, this structure has created an environment where engagement is truly top-of-mind.

The effort is also fueled by a number of accountability mechanisms, including "pay-for-engagement-performance." Scripps ties six percent of every leader's incentive compensation and 17 percent of every leader's performance evaluation to their engagement score. With more on the line, leaders maintain their perennial focus on engagement.

Self-sustaining manager tools supplement organizational efforts

Scripps also equips leaders with tools they can use to build engagement through day-to-day work.

These tools are, by design, more "habitual" than they are "tactical," to support the notion that managers should behave in a way that encourages engagement rather than simply implement a discrete set of tactics.

One such tool is an online recognition program called "Excel Together," which makes it easy for managers to recognize multiple staff members per month.

Coordinated engagement and patient experience efforts increase efficiency

The link between employee engagement and patient experience has been well-established and offers significant opportunity for organizations to "kill two birds with one stone."

At Scripps, this link is being leveraged by extending one of their patient experience strategies—to reduce avoidable patient suffering—to staff engagement, where clinical leaders are also working to reduce avoidable staff suffering. The Scripps team believes drawing this parallel encourages leaders to think about these metrics in tandem without overwhelming them with two different strategies.

The initial rollout of this program has three components:

1. Educate leaders on the connection

In order for staff to buy into these principles, it's critical they understand the connection. Scripps has worked with their nursing leaders to make sure they grasp the correlation between engagement and patient experience and understand how it plays out in their own data.

2. Embed the concept into everyday work

Rather than creating new processes, Scripps has worked to embed this concept into leaders' existing work. By discussing it in new hire orientation, best practice forums, and other standing meetings, the process can more naturally become a part of leaders' ongoing efforts.

3. Reinforce the concept regularly

To ensure leaders don't lose sight of the importance of this concept, the Scripps team provides toolkits on the topic and holds regular discussions to encourage continuous learning.

2016 Workplace Award Winners

Scripps was one of 24 organizations to be recognized for exceptional performance in driving engagement at the Advisory Board's national employee engagement summit on March 22 in Chicago.

The 20 winners of the Advisory Board's Workplace of the Year award demonstrated the highest levels of engagement within the Advisory Board Survey Solutions national database, coupled with lower-than-average levels of disengagement. Organizations that surveyed between August 2014 and December 2015 were eligible for the award. The winners were:

  • Bryan Health (Lincoln, Neb.)
  • Cedars-Sinai (Los Angeles, Calif.)
  • CHOC Children's (Irvine, Calif.)
  • Community Medical Centers (Fresno, Calif.)
  • Eisenhower Medical Center (Rancho Mirage, Calif.)
  • Evergreen Healthcare (Kirkland, Wash.)
  • Firelands Regional Medical Center (Sandusky, Ohio)
  • Gillette Children's Specialty Healthcare (St. Paul, Minn.)
  • Hospital Sisters Health System (Springfield, Ill.)
  • Kettering Health Network (Dayton, Ohio)
  • Main Line Health (Wayne, Pa.)
  • Methodist Health System (Dallas, Texas)
  • Parkview Health (Fort Wayne, Ind.)
  • Sauk Prairie Healthcare (Prairie Du Sac, Wis.)
  • Schneck Medical Center (Seymour, Ind.)
  • Scripps Health (San Diego, Calif.)
  • Stanford Health Care (Palo Alto, Calif.)
  • Virtua (Marlton, N.J.)
  • Union Hospital (Dover, Ohio)
  • University of Utah Hospitals and Clinics (Salt Lake City, Utah)

The five winners of the Advisory Board's 2016 Workplace Transformation Award demonstrated the highest levels of improvement in engagement within the Advisory Board Survey Solutions national database, coupled with lower-than-average levels of disengagement. Organizations that surveyed between August 2014 and December 2015 were eligible for the award. The winners were:

  • CHOC Children's (Irvine, Calif.)
  • Rutland Regional Medical Center (Rutland, Vt.)
  • Sinai Health System (Chicago, Ill.)
  • St. Elizabeth Healthcare (Covington, Ky.)
  • University HealthCare Alliance (Palo Alto, Calif.)

Boost your HCAHPS scores by focusing on employee engagement

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Our data backs up the idea that higher employee engagement correlates with stronger patient satisfaction scores. Watch our video to learn more about this connection, including which engagement drivers present the most opportunity for improvement.

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