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Tales from the Corporate Frontlines: Creating a Culture of Empowerment
This article relates to the Culture & Climate competency, commonly evaluated in employee satisfaction surveys. AlphaMeasure defines climate as the effect an organization has on the employees, while culture refers more to the acceptable behaviors, attitudes, and habits of the organization as a whole. Some relevant topics include employee values, attitudes, and morale throughout your organization. Knowing and understanding workplace culture and climate leads to a better understanding of what factors influence employees. In relation, the level of service your customers receive is almost always influenced by the culture and climate of your organization. Evaluating this competency can be especially useful if your organization is experiencing customer service related issues or problems working together internally.
This short story, Creating a Culture of Empowerment, is part of AlphaMeasure's compilation, Tales From the Corporate Frontlines. It tells about the effects of a negative culture on nursing home residents and what was done to turn things around and create a better culture and climate in the workplace..
I transferred into my current position as manager of a small nursing home two years ago. After my first meeting with the frontline caregivers---nursing staff, orderlies, etc., I was very concerned. The caregivers were clearly unhappy in their positions. They liked their work, they enjoyed caring for the residents, but there was some other factor at work here, creating a climate of uneasiness and a culture of apprehension in this small and close-knit group residence.
I spoke with various residents. They were concerned as well. They felt that they were receiving good care, but many mentioned an unhappy mood that continued day to day. It affected some more than others, and they expressed a wish for brighter, more upbeat surroundings. A long time resident told me that things used to be different, and she had felt much better, physically and mentally, when her nurses and aides were happier.
That, in a nutshell, was what troubled me most. Anyone involved in health care knows that patients, in this case nursing home residents, are much happier and healthier and make better progress when their caregivers are satisfied in their positions and careers.
I decided to conduct an employee survey, mainly for the caregivers, to give them the opportunity to vent. I hadn't been able to find out much verbally, so I hoped that the survey would give them the opportunity to reveal the sources of their discontent. Then we could proceed to improve the situation.
Among other issues, the survey results revealed that morale was low because the staff felt stifled by regulations. The rigid rules needed to be examined and perhaps modified to empower caregivers to a greater degree. They were more satisfied when they felt able to improve the quality of life for their patients.
Some other solutions we used to change the culture included:
* Providing educational opportunities for caregivers to update and expand their skills
* Adopting a new conflict management policy - developed with extensive caregiver feedback
* Reevaluating our financial policies to free up funds to hire more caregivers to ease the burden of understaffed areas.
As a result, we were able to engage our caregivers in creating a workplace culture that emphasizes the value of each human being and a climate of respect. The caregivers are satisfied, and the residents are happier and healthier.
© 2005 AlphaMeasure, Inc. - All Rights Reserved
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Josh Greenberg is President of AlphaMeasure, Inc.
AlphaMeasure provides organizations of all sizes a powerful web based method for measuring employee satisfaction, determining employee engagement, and increasing employee retention.
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