Arkansas Hospital Association Annual Meeting Provided Inspiration and Networking
By BECKY GILLETTE
Challenges and opportunities highlighted
The Arkansas Hospital Association Annual Meeting in Little Rock this October attracted attendees from across the state to interact and hear an overview of important developments in the healthcare community-from quality initiatives to leadership tools and take-a-ways, said Bo Ryall, president and CEO of the AHA.
"Attendees included CEOs, CFOs, COOs, CNOs, quality directors, risk managers, nursing directors, human resources, marketing and public relations, compliance and legal counsel, as well as others," Ryall said. "Bringing all of the areas of healthcare under one roof allows the AHA the ability to provide education on rethinking their cost structures, how they will provide care and what the patient experience will look like in the future, the outlook of both the state and federal political climate, as well as legislative issues, and barriers to healthcare for segments of the state population."
Ryall said above all, the annual meeting is an opportunity for AHA members to come together for face-to-face networking; in this digital age, there is value in individuals being able to interact personally.
AHA Chairman Darren Caldwell agrees nothing can beat a gathering that promotes networking.
"Electronic media has its place in attempting to get people together over long distances or in a short time frame," Caldwell said. "But since we know months in advance and should be able to schedule the time off, there is no substitute to building relationships the old-fashioned way. Otherwise we may end up like Washington and not even know how to communicate with one another."
Caldwell said he felt that the recent Annual Meeting was very informative and energetic.
"The topics and information shared will be more applicable to our daily routine than what has been shared before," said Caldwell, who is Senior Vice President of Regional Services for St. Bernards Healthcare.
The AHA represents 101 hospitals in Arkansas and 46,000 employees. Caldwell said each hospital has special traits and most do particular things well, regardless of their size. Information moves very quickly and advances are made in the blink of an eye.
"By having the AHA, we have a vehicle to collectively share information with one another no matter if there are different affiliations, profit structures, or sizes that would normally make it difficult or impossible," Caldwell said. "It is the closest thing we have to creating a level playing field in the industry."
One speaker of note at the meeting was Kirk Weisler, Chief Morale Officer, Team Dynamics, Inc., who has consulted with companies and organizations around the globe. Weisler pulled from his background as a U.S. Army Ranger and member of the 19th Special Forces Chaplaincy to lead a session on how leaders need to refresh every now and then to keep their employees engaged and motivated. It's about growing good employees and retaining the really good ones, including vital doctors and nurses.
Weisler said Gallup research shows that 17 percent of the American workforce are actively disengaged.
"That is a dark number," Weisler said. "They are actually working against co-workers. They are withholding support. They are cynical and undermining. They suck the light out of the world. They may be those who step out the back door with company products causing shrinkage."
Another 51 percent are considered not engaged. Weisler said they show up to work and they are doing their job. But they don't take the initiative. They aren't retired exactly, but aren't the kind of workers you really want in your organization. Then you have 32 percent who are engaged. They work with creativity and passion, have a sense of purpose and are connected to the mission. Millennials often want meaningful work.
"Of these three categories, who do you and I want to work with?" Weisler asked. "We want to work with the engaged people. They are the ones making connections, having passionate interactions, and welcoming new opportunities. But who is likely to leave the hospital first, the actively disengaged or the engaged? The frightening answer is that the most engaged are most likely to leave. They are tired of working with the burnouts. If one of my engaged managers quits, who does that leave me working with?"
Weisler said engagement has to be a primary part of the purpose of managers. There is a great loss in having to replace an engaged employee. It can cost 100-150 percent of an employee's salary per year just to replace that employee.
"It is work investing in the training and culture to create an engaged culture at work," Weisler said. "But, as leaders, that is what we must do. Managers do it best by keeping themselves motivated. Enthusiasm is contagious. It is true that when you are around enthusiastic people, you feel a little better. Don't hide the excitement you feel. It is okay to be excited. Be an agent to inspire growth in others by letting your people see you growing."
Studies have shown when people are engaged in growth and development, they are happier, their white blood cell count is higher, they recover more quickly from illnesses, and so much more. Instinctively, we know this.
Weisler said one important way to improve engagement is showing or telling other employees that you appreciate them.
"Create a culture of recognition," he said. "People need recognition every seven days, not just at the annual banquet. It would be so much better if we created a culture where every employee was intentional about celebrating the positive contributions made by their colleagues. What we say more of, we'll see more of, so getting the entire organization to focus on what's working right will help more of the right work get done. You want to empower and inspire the whole organization."