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Dome - Putting employee engagement to the test

Dome June 2012

Putting employee engagement to the test

Date: June 15, 2012

Employee Engagement

As part of the move into the new clinical buildings,  nurse manager Cheryl Connors faced the prospect of merging  her Blalock 3 pediatric clinical research unit with  the CMSC 6 infants med/surg unit—and ensuring that the two groups, with different cultures, ways of doing things and ages, would work as a cohesive unit.

Just how Connors and her team dealt with this challenge may prove instructive, as hospital, health system and university staff recently participated in the Johns Hopkins Employee Engagement Survey, which was conducted by the Gallup Organization.

Initially, says pediatric research nurse Kris Schaum-Comegys, when the news about the merger hit, tensions ran high: “We had to begin a new process and were forced to bid for new jobs.” (The other unit had its share of stress as it was forced to downsize from 34 to 20.) But after months of preparation and interaction with her new colleagues, Comegys says anxieties have calmed and confidence is building—as are relationships— now that the move is complete.

Getting to that point, says Connors, required an action plan that prized brainstorming. “From the outset,” she says, “I encouraged my staff to contribute ideas about how the unit work flow should operate.”

Here are some of their strategies, which appear to be paying off:

  Both teams participated in two retreats, getting to know each other better.

  In February, following through on senior nurses’ suggestions, Connors’ unit started taking in intermediate pediatric patients—with more complex medical problems—so that the team could develop greater comfort in caring for sicker patients.

  The Blalock 3 nurses shadowed RNs on various other units to see how they managed a higher census and more medically complex patients.

Now settling into a routine with the enlarged, diverse team, Connors is pleased with how smoothly the transition to Charlotte R. Bloomberg 9 North is going. “We’re larger and stronger.” Adds Comegys, “And our fears about personality clashes and cliques have turned out to be unwarranted.”

Judy F. Minkove