Annual Caregiver Survey: Your Voice Matters

In the coming weeks, you will be hearing more about our systemwide caregiver survey that will be sent to you in mid-March. We’ve accomplished a lot together, based on your feedback from the last survey and the pulse surveys we’ve conducted as “mini-surveys” since then. I encourage you to take the survey when you get it by email (it only takes 15 to 20 minutes to complete). I often say to managers and leaders that feedback is a gift. And without your feedback, we can’t continue on our journey together to make UMass Memorial Health Care a great place to give care and get care. I’ve asked Bart Metzger, our chief human resources officer, to be our guest blogger to explain why the caregiver survey is so important.

Bart MetzgerGuest Blogger: Bart Metzger, chief human resources officer, UMass Memorial Health Care

When the topic of the caregiver survey comes up, I’m often asked by caregivers: “Why should I take the survey?” I usually read into that question: “Why should I care?” Here are my top three reasons why you should care:


  1. We want you to be happy at UMass Memorial. The quality of your work life is important to us.
  2. Your voice matters. Without your feedback, we can’t improve. And continuous improvement is part of our culture.
  3. Caregiver experience = patient experience. If you aren’t satisfied with your work, how can we expect you to take good care of our patients?

Let’s look more closely at these three reasons why the caregiver survey is important.

    1. Be happy. I don’t expect everyone to be happy all the time at work. After all, health care is a serious, tough industry to be in. People’s lives literally are at stake. But we want you to feel fulfilled in your job and enjoy doing meaningful work. We want you to have a good work environment that fosters teamwork and positive outcomes. We hope you stay here a long time and build a career here. If your work experience isn’t mostly positive, we want to know about it.
    2. Your voice matters. In my 35-year career, I’ve never worked at an organization that has embraced the concept of continuous improvement as much as we have here. At most places, managers make decisions and push the solutions down to their staff. Not here. It is a part of our culture to ask our front-line teams to bring up problems and help find, create and implement the solutions. As Dr. Dickson often says, it takes everyone, everyday – regardless of what your role is – to meet our True North goal to become the best place to give care and the best place to get care. Your opinions, your expertise, your voice matters in everything we do.
    3. For the sake of our patients. Caregiver engagement is absolutely paramount for the betterment of our clinical care. Research shows that high-performing health care organizations have a high degree of employee engagement. When health care workers – clinicians and non-clinicians – are satisfied with the organization, there is a higher quality of care (and safer care) that is delivered. That makes sense. Health care is about people. We aren’t making widgets. We often see people (our patients and their families) when they are most vulnerable – when they are sick or injured. So, if we are not taking care of ourselves, treating each other with dignity and respect, our patient care suffers. Check out Dr. Dickson’s latest post on how our Standards of Respect relate to treating our patients.

Improving caregiver engagement is a journey – one we are on together. It doesn’t happen overnight.

Here’s what we learned from previous surveys

We have learned a lot from our previous caregiver surveys. We have learned what our strengths are and our weaknesses that need to be addressed. For example, we had an incredible improvement between the 2016 and 2018 full caregiver surveys in how we view/use the electronic health record (EHR) system. For those who were here in 2016, you may recall we were in the middle of preparing for the launch of Epic. That challenging time was reflected in the caregiver survey results, putting us at one of the lowest scores in the country as it relates to an EHR system. But from the 2018 survey, we had vast improvement in this area, putting us above the national average in how we view our Epic system! That shows how resilient we are as an organization.

From the 2018 survey, we learned what our weaknesses are and took action on your feedback. At a system level, for example, we launched the Standards of Respect. We had heard loud and clear that many people felt we weren’t treating each other with the kindness and respect we deserve. That can happen in health care organizations. After all, we are working in an intense, stressful, high-stakes environment, which at times cause people to behave in ways they know they shouldn’t.

Through a grassroots effort started by our front-line caregivers, we, together, developed the Standards of Respect to address these behaviors. And to date, 78 percent of our 14,000 caregivers have completed the Standards of Respect workshop training. I’m extremely proud of this accomplishment, but we have more work to do in this area. This past fall, we introduced the accountability phase of this work (see Dr. Dickson’s blog post on the topic) so that we can ensure we are doing our best every day to meet these standards.

You will be hearing more in the coming weeks from your local leaders about the other actions that have been put into place based on your feedback from the last survey. Believe me, there is a lot to be proud of in this work we did together.

Another point I want to emphasize is that the survey is completely anonymous. UMass Memorial will never know how an individual caregiver responds to the survey. Our survey vendor, Press Ganey, will provide an overall snapshot on how we did as an organization. In addition, your manager will be provided results on how your team, as a whole, responded to the survey. In fact, in order to share team results, five or more team members need to respond to the survey to ensure responses can’t be identified.

In closing, I hope I’ve answered the question of why you should care about the upcoming caregiver survey. If I haven’t, please feel free to contact me directly and I’m happy to talk more about it. The bottom line is that your voice truly matters. And we as leaders are listening and are ready to act on what you’re telling us.

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