Delnor Proud of Efforts to Improve Employee Morale

Article excerpt

Byline: Adam Rittenberg Daily Herald Staff Writer

Improving employee morale at a time of increasing benefit premiums, smaller raises and constant corner cutting is akin to ice skating up the Himalayas.

So how did Delnor-Community Hospital in Geneva raise positive morale among its 1,500 employees to 83 percent, the third such increase in four years?

"We learned all these things in kindergarten," said Linda Deering, a vice president and chief nursing officer at Delnor, "but we all have different impressions of what they are."

In 1998, Delnor CEO Craig Livermore challenged his executive team to improve patient satisfaction. The movement that took place over the next five years not only drew more patients and physicians, but made its employees happier to come to work every day.

Delnor's makeover centered around three main areas: leadership development, behavior standards, and rewards and recognition. Education seminars and committees featuring employees from every group level helped create an organization of "praise, reward and celebration," Deering said.

Delnor implemented most of the new programs in late 2000, when positive employee morale hovered around 74 percent. Morale increased to 81 percent in 2003 and saw a small increase in this year's survey, which had a 76 percent response rate and was conducted by Sperduto & Associates, an Atlanta-based research firm.

The workplace culture changes have helped trim Delnor's annual nursing turnover to 8 percent, well under the national average of 13 percent, according to the American Hospital Association.

In fact, Delnor officials announced this week the hospital has been designated a "Magnet" hospital by the American Nurses Association.

The hospital had to meet standards for nursing practices and patient care. Only two other Illinois hospitals achieved this designation.

Delnor also has seen job applications increase by 30 percent in the last year. Michele McClelland, Delnor's vice president of human resources, said the hospital now ranks in the 99th percentile in patient satisfaction, according to a survey of more than 1,000 hospitals conducted by Press Ganey Associates, a health care research firm. …