How employers can take their work forces from good to great Featured

9:01pm EDT April 30, 2011
How employers can take their work forces from good to great

When it comes to achieving success through innovation, businesses have traditionally tapped their research and development teams for guidance. Today, organizations increasingly turn to their employees, customers and partners to drive them forward. According to research by The Gallup Organization, the engagement of passionate workers is a powerful factor in creating new ideas and catalyzing ‘outside-the-box’ thinking to improve management and business processes as well as customer service.

To learn more, Smart Business looked to Diana Hendel, PharmD, CEO of Long Beach Memorial Medical Center and Miller Children’s Hospital Long Beach — part of MemorialCare Health System — just one of 29 employers worldwide and the only one headquartered in Los Angeles or Orange County to receive the 2011 Gallup Great Workplace Award.

What is the Gallup Great Workplace Award?

Based on what experts say is ‘the most rigorous workplace research ever conducted,’ the award honors organizations whose employee engagement results demonstrate they have the most productive and engaged work forces in the world. The awards span the globe and represent businesses ranging from health care, hospitality and retail to manufacturing, banking and insurance.

What are the criteria?

The Gallup Workplace Awards recognize companies with an extraordinary ability to create an engaged workplace culture. They are judged on multiple criteria, including response rates exceeding 80 percent, overall engagement levels and evidence of engagement impact on performance. The applicants’ results are then compared across Gallup’s workplace research database of millions of employees and 816,000 work teams in 170 countries worldwide. The organizations with results exceeding strict criteria are invited to submit a portfolio of their strategic plans and best practices. A panel of workplace experts assesses the applicants against established criteria to select the winners.

Where do top companies stand out?

According to Gallup, worldwide there are more than two actively disengaged employees for every engaged employee. Businesses honored work hard to shatter and reverse that trend, averaging nine engaged employees for every actively disengaged employee.

Employees of these top companies are nearly twice as likely to report that they receive recognition for their good work, their opinions count, someone at work encourages their development, their co-workers are committed to quality work and the company’s mission and purpose make them feel their job is important.

What else defines a great workplace?

Engaged employees are more productive, customer-centric, successful and safer. They are 3.5 times more likely to be thriving in their overall lives, experience better days and have fewer unhealthy days. Gallup tells us that the award-winning companies improve lives as they improve numerous other business results, like overall company performance and profitability — regardless of their industry, company size or geographic location. The honorees, Gallup says, establish a new global standard for engaging work forces, creating an environment that values people and goes far beyond the norm to ensure each employee has an emotional connection to their mission and growth. The positive effects of engagement stretch far beyond simple perks or benefits — they help drive real business outcomes.

In what areas did MemorialCare excel?

MemorialCare Health System was judged on 20 best practice action plans and three organization-wide best practices implemented among our 10,000-employee work force. The system-wide best practices include the employee health and wellness Good Life Program (see the Smart Business March 2011 interview with Tammie Brailsford), the comprehensive new employee year-long orientation process and a specific health and safety measure to improve patient care.

Also, at Long Beach Memorial and Miller Children’s we were honored for our 24/7/365 stakeholder communications strategy, which promises openness and availability around the clock. This strategy has me constantly engaging in person and via multiple communications techniques with board members, executives, managers and all our employees.

Each of our exceptional 5,000 employees, 1,350 affiliated physicians and the countless volunteers on our Long Beach campus contributes to this tremendous honor. Their high level of commitment to our mission is the reason we’re able to offer our communities extraordinary, high-quality patient care.

How can employers adopt best practices?

Particiate in a workplace survey, like those facilitated by Gallup, to compare results with other companies and learn where you excel or need improvements. Also, adapt new staff orientation from a single event to ongoing employee development and training.

Encourage healthier lifestyles by adding or expanding wellness, much like our Good Life Program that improves health, morale and productivity, while reducing absenteeism and costs of health benefits and workers’ comp. Offer executive and employee physicals that lead to early detection, preventive care and better outcomes.

Our MemorialCare team of occupational, clinical and business health experts can help employers create a healthier, happier and more productive work force.

Diana Hendel, PharmD, is the CEO of Long Beach Memorial Medical Center and Miller Children’s Hospital Long Beach. The not-for-profit MemorialCare Health System includes Long Beach Memorial Medical Center, Miller Children’s Hospital Long Beach, Orange Coast Memorial Medical Center in Fountain Valley and Saddleback Memorial Medical Center in Laguna Hills and San Clemente. For additional information on excellence in health care, please visit