Why keeping employees engaged, healthy and driven is key to your business’s success Featured

9:01pm EDT April 30, 2011
Why keeping employees engaged, healthy and driven is key to your business’s success

What makes for a successful work force? According to the Gallup organization, it’s engaged employees — the ones who want to know your company’s expectations so they can meet and exceed them. They use their talents and strengths to perform at consistently high levels, charging enthusiastically toward the nearest tough task, working with passion, driving innovation and moving their companies forward.

To learn more about engaged employees, Smart Business spoke with Marcia Manker, CEO of Orange Coast Memorial Medical Center, and Steve Geidt, CEO of Saddleback Memorial Medical Center in Laguna Hills and San Clemente. These three hospital facilities are part of the MemorialCare Health System, which recently was just one of 29 employers worldwide and the only one headquartered in Orange or Los Angeles County to receive the 2011 Gallup Great Workplace Award.

Why are engaged employees so important?

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

What is the Gallup Great Workplace Award?

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

Businesses are judged on multiple criteria, including response rates exceeding 80 percent, overall engagement levels and evidence of how employee engagement has impacted organizational performance. The results of each applicant are 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. To select the winners, a panel of workplace experts assesses the applicants against established criteria.

What makes the honorees unique?

Gallup found that globally there are more than two actively disengaged employees for every engaged employee. The businesses that were honored shatter and reverse that trend, averaging nine engaged employees for every actively disengaged employee

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

What other elements define a great workplace?

Gallup’s years of research have resulted in their findings that engaged employees are more productive, customer-centric, safer and successful. 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 Great Workplace winning organizations are improving lives as they improve numerous other business results, like company performance and profitability, regardless of industry sector, company size or geographic location. The honorees are establishing a global standard for creating an environment that values people and goes far beyond the norm to ensure each employee has an emotional connection to their growth and mission. The advantages of engagement stretch far beyond simple perks or benefits — they help drive real business outcomes.

In which areas did MemorialCare stand out?

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.

We were also honored for our stakeholder communications strategy that ensures availability around the clock. This strategy has our executives constantly engaging in person and via multiple communications techniques with board members, executives, managers and all our employees.

Every one of MemorialCare’s exceptional 10,000 employees, 2,300 affiliated physicians and the countless volunteers throughout our health care system contribute to this tremendous honor. Their high level of commitment to our mission is why we’re able to offer our communities high-quality patient care.

How can employers improve the workplace?

Encourage healthier lifestyles among your employees by providing wellness activities, like our Good Life Program that improves health, morale and productivity, while reducing absenteeism and costs of health benefits and workers’ comp. Offer employee physicals that lead to early detection, preventive care and better outcomes. Participate in a survey, like those initiated by Gallup, that compare results with other companies, to learn where you excel or need improvements. Also move new staff orientation from a singular event to ongoing employee development and training.

Our MemorialCare team of occupational, business and clinical health experts is available to work with you to create a healthier, happier and more productive work force.

Marcia Manker is CEO of Orange Coast Memorial Medical Center. Steve Geidt is CEO of Saddleback Memorial Medical Center in Laguna Hills and San Clemente. 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 memorialcare.org.