Jean Bourgeois: Using employee-led teams to advance business initiatives can bring impressive results

Margaret Mead once said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” It is also true that a small group of thoughtful, committed employees can change your company for the better.  

Every business has myriad initiatives it would like to accomplish. Some of them are “wants” and some are “needs,” and priority usually demands that many go to the back burner. But what if you could achieve more of them, more efficiently and successfully by placing the planning and implementation into the hands of your employees, rather than on the shoulders of your management team? 

Employee-led teams can make a remarkable impact. These small, cross-functional groups of self-selected, strategically-minded employees contribute their diverse knowledge and problem-solving skills to establish a charter, set annual objectives for their projects, collaborate on strategies, and implement them to achieve their stated goals.

Some initiatives where employee-led teams work well include company wellness; employee engagement, recognition and education; and community outreach. But employee-led opportunities don’t need to focus only on employee “benefit” programs. They can also serve as a strategic advantage to meet your company’s biggest challenges.   


Employee-led teams in practice

The challenge of operating in the health care space, as Excelas does, is that even when you’re a small business, you’re still held to many of the same rigorous regulatory standards as big corporations.

For example, compliance with Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act legislation isn’t much different for small businesses than it is for large health care systems. Our biggest challenge over the past year was to ensure that our company was in full compliance with all HIPAA requirements by September 2013, when changes to the legislation went into effect for all businesses handling protected health information.

Since most of these requirements were new for organizations like ours, compliance was an immense and daunting undertaking — we are, after all, a company of less than 40 employees.

Our approach to this challenge — using an employee-led team — worked beautifully. Our dedicated team of five employees successfully brought us into full compliance by the regulatory deadline. Their accomplishments included completing a battery of risk assessments, vendor site visits, IT upgrades, security upgrades, staff training, policy development, disaster planning and much more.

What could have been a time- and resource-consuming process was achieved with high efficiency, great professionalism, and tremendous skill.  

I encourage you to consider the wealth of assets your employees bring to your table, including those which may not be fully tapped in their day-to-day assignments but can contribute great things to your company. Give them an opportunity to step into a different role, exercise their potential, and lead a company-wide initiative. It helps employees feel highly invested, which is excellent for recruitment, retention and the bottom line.

Employee-led teams are a win for everyone. Indeed, these small groups of thoughtful, committed employees can change your company, propel your initiatives and help you achieve more than you may have thought possible. 

Jean Bourgeois, MBA, RHIA
Founder and president
Excelas LLC

A Cleveland-based national provider of medical record analysis that helps long-term and acute care organizations, medical corporations and insurers settle and win cases.

Under Jean’s leadership, Excelas has won the Northcoast 99 (2011, 2012 and 2013), the Weatherhead 100 (2012 and 2013), [email protected] Award (2013) and the Alfred P. Sloan Award for Workplace Flexibility (2013).

How to reach: (440) 442-7310, [email protected],