Home Health Care One tactic to reduce burnout and resignation? No meetings among senior staff

One tactic to reduce burnout and resignation? No meetings among senior staff


Healthcare’s workforce crisis is far from over, with experts saying very few providers will be able hire themselves out of the employment dearth. It’s more important than ever for health systems to ensure they’re minimizing turnover rates among the staff they do have — a priority that MultiCare Health System in Washington state is taking a new approach to.

This April, the 11-hospital health system rolled out an initiative called Spring Connection Week, a week in which meetings were cleared from the schedules of supervisors, managers and directors so that they could conduct one-on-one rounds with their frontline staff. Now, Stacey Parkin, MultiCare’s chief patient experience officer, is ready to talk about the program and why other hospitals should steal the idea.

In an interview, she said that the idea came from Florence Chang, the health system’s president. Chang was responding to MultiCare leaders’ feedback that they did not have enough opportunities to connect with their staff members and learn about their specific pain points. 

During the week, which began April 10, nearly 3,200 rounds were conducted with staff members representing 432 teams. These teams spanned all of MultiCare’s departments, from nurses to physicians to kitchen staff to call center agents. When leaders were holding these sessions, Parkin said they were advised to extract the root causes of turnover by making their staff feel comfortable and encouraging them to talk openly about what they liked and disliked about working for the health system.

“We wanted to understand what was imperative to them in terms of loyalty and staying with the organization,” Parkin said. “We wanted to find specific things about what’s working well and what’s not working well, and then categorize those.”

To accomplish this, MultiCare leaders asked their staff questions such as “If you could change one process at MultiCare, what would it be?” and “What kind of support would you like to see more of in our health system?” Parkin said it was important and intentional that these questions were posed in one-on-one settings because there will always be some people who frequently speak up and some who never share during group-based rounds.

MultiCare leaders conducted Spring Connection Week’s rounds using CipherHealth’s staff rounding solution, which allows them to easily and digitally log their team member’s comments. At the end of the week, Parkin said leaders sent her team nearly 10,000 staff comments to review.

Among the 3,165 MultiCare employees who were rounded, about one-third said their biggest problem had to do with staffing shortages, more specifically the burnout associated with having to work overtime and pick up extra responsibilities, according to Parkin. She said technology issues were another common concern among staff, though she noted this may have to do with a recent system outage experienced by one of MultiCare’s vendors. Parkin’s team is still in the process of reviewing these comments and categorizing them, but she said workforce shortages and technology woes are the two main buckets so far.

The patient experience team is categorizing these comments so they can be disseminated to the appropriate departments. For example, comments having to do with EMR usability will be forwarded to the chief information officer so he and his team can start designing programs or implementing process changes to address staff pain points. Similarly, comments about payroll will be passed along to the human resources department.

As department heads begin working on plans to address the staff comments forwarded to them by Parkin’s team, MultiCare has already begun ramping up some of its programs based on Spring Connection Week feedback. For example, the health system is planning more hiring fairs and talking with technology vendors to automate some of its staff’s manual tasks, such as EMR note-taking.

Spring Connection Week led to staff feedback that was not only much more abundant than usual, but also more honest and specific, Parkin said. She added that all health systems could benefit from the model because it allows them to quickly produce a wealth of anecdotal data illuminating the biggest problems its workforce faces. MultiCare is planning to repeat the initiative in the fall.

Photo: Hiraman, Getty Images

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