"I Hate My Job! I Love My Job!"
Tuesday, March 31, 2015
“I HATE MY JOB! I LOVE MY JOB!”
Michael Gervasi, DO, President and CEO of Florida Community Health Centers, Inc.
Dr. Gervasi will be presenting on Being an Employer of Choice at the Spring Primary Care Conference May 16-19 in Portland, Oregon.
Almost everyone has said these words at some point in time. But what does that really mean? After all, few things in life (people, pets, foods, etc.) rise to the level of being loved. Conversely, few things in life are despicable enough to warrant true hatred. Do your employees mean that they enjoy the work they do, but don’t like the health center they work for or the people they work with? Do they mean that they don’t really enjoy their work but the pay and benefits are great? So, what does your staff really mean when they say they love (or hate) their job (or anything else)?
In the workplace, we might “love” our job if it, like the people we love, is attractive to look at (good physical working conditions), considerate of others (mission driven), and caring toward us and our needs. But such things are relative; there is no such thing as the “perfect” job. As long as the things that are pleasing about the work and workplace you provide outnumber the things that are distasteful, your staff will like their jobs. If the pleasing things vastly outnumber the distasteful things, they might even “love” their jobs.
So what are important things a health center can do to make the “good” outweigh the “bad” for its employees? Of course, tangible things like being competitive in the marketplace regarding salary and benefits are obvious. However, when trying to make the “good outweigh the bad,” employers should consider some “intangible” things like employees’ opinions. Regular employee satisfaction surveys are an important part of this. Staff should be encouraged to participate and let their true thoughts and feelings be known. Anonymity is crucial. Employees will be reluctant to give their true opinions if they feel they will be recognized. Another intangible is to ask for employee feedback about various operational issues. They are the ones doing the actual work on the front lines. Even though some of their suggestions may be impossible to implement, they generally are grateful to feel part of the decision making process.
No matter how fair, pleasant, and mission-driven you try and be, there will always be someone that is unhappy. There will always be someone that tries to push the envelope. However, remember that at the end of the day, perhaps the most important thing in getting someone to “love” their job is to show them that you truly care about them. I’ve seen that done in health centers in several ways. Recognition is crucial. Perhaps the single greatest comment in employee satisfaction surveys is that they want to feel appreciated and recognized. Emails, phone calls, and thank you cards for a job well done go a long way in showing staff that you care. Recognizing employees in company newsletters is important. On a personal level, having upper management talk to staff personally, not just about work matters, lets employees know you care about them personally.
Remember that enjoying one’s job and workday has a lot to do with attitude. There likely will always be something distasteful that our employees have to face. There is no such thing as the perfect job, so the idea is to have balance. Some health centers do this very well, and we can learn from their examples. Many Health centers have employee “morale” committees. Although the names of these committees may vary, they all, to varying degrees, are a forum for which staff can give input and institute programs to make an employees’ work life more enjoyable. Other organizations are very good at encouraging staff to have to focus on customer service by being extra pleasant and upbeat while in the workplace. This not only makes patients feel more happy and hopeful, but it helps staff to focus on being happy themselves. Other organizations allow staff time for activities outside of their regular work duties. Sometimes these revolve around fundraising activities for patients’ needs. Other events might be purely staff-focused, such as company picnics or socials. At all times, employees should be encouraged to have fun at work, since a “happy” attitude will be reflected to the patients.
Becoming an employer of choice might come down to those three simple lessons:
· Help your employees develop positive ways to address the inevitable negatives in their work, such as giving input on work flow and doing satisfaction surveys.
· Establish a plan for consistently demonstrating that the CHC cares about its employees. Be sure that all supervisors recognize their staff for doing a good job.
· Review your personnel policies to ensure you provide balance for your staff, such as incorporating regular time for “non-work” activities.
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