Reimagining Workplace Flexibility Amid the Great Resignation

By The SHSMD Team posted 01-17-2023 02:19 PM


The “Great Resignation” has hit all industries, but health care has been particularly susceptible to its impact. Its important for hospital leadership to understand the challenges behind this new era of workplace mentality—and work towards viable solutions.

Rose Glenn, Chief Communications and Marketing Officer, and Denise Beaudoin, Director of Digital Strategy and Engagement at Michigan Medicine, have been surveying staff to gain insights. They weren’t quite expecting the answer they’d get upon asking, “How many days would you like to be here?” The answer? Zero or one.

“We were a little taken aback by that. I did really expect people to say two, maybe even three. But we were fully remote when the pandemic hit us hard in March of 2020,” states Glenn. “People got quite used to working from home, having the tools they needed at their disposal, being able to throw in a load of laundry in between meetings. Not having the commute was a big deal, especially when gas prices are so high.”

Based on employee feedback, the organization implemented a two-day per week onsite hybrid model and resurveyed employees after 90 days. Glenn says it became clear people prefer to work remotely full time unless there was a clearly intentional reason to be onsite. For example, an interview with a physician or a team-building event.

Focus on Recruitment and Retention

Glenn and Beaudoin recognize the need for both recruitment and retention. With greater workplace flexibility, they hope to optimize both.

“We know this is so important to keeping employees because it's hard to recruit right now. So many people are leaving the industry, leaving work, and we need to do those things to meet people where they are and accommodate when we can,” notes Beaudoin.

The duo also understands the processes of years’ past will not generate the same outcomes when going to a nearly fully remote model. One “redesign” has been the implementation of the Culture Squad, which is a group of volunteers that is constantly putting together various activities.

“They are really thinking about how to intentionally bring people in to engage. Even before we were in person, they were doing it online,” notes Glenn.

Another change surrounds technology. Many employees were getting burned out by email, but Glenn and Beaudoin have found a chat feature eases some of that pain and allows employees to connect in a new and different way. The organization is also rethinking orientation. “How do you bring people into an environment and get to know the culture when the folks are all separate? We're being very intentional with orientation as well,” adds Glenn.

Change Gets Results

Everything Michigan Medicine has been doing to this point is working. Burnout rate is low and employees feel supported that they can voice their wishes and actually see them come to fruition. “We are doing the right things, but it was a good eye-opener for us,” shares Beaudoin.

Both agree that organizations that are struggling with effects of the Great Resignation can benefit from reassessing their operations. “Don't be fearful of trying new things. You can always make a change. Have the courage to listen and to respond. Try it out, see if it works for your team,” encourages Glenn.

For continued learning
, see the Podcast: New Thinking on Workplace Flexibility So the Great Resignation Doesn’t Leave You in the Dust!