Instead of a Monthly Staff Meeting....
…try communicating important information in daily huddles! Huddles provide an opportunity for you to check in with staff on a daily basis and provide them with real-time information that affect the caregivers’ working environment.
In my department, huddles are held every day at various times, which are based on the arrival patterns of our caregivers. They are very simple and designed to be no longer than five minutes. Try beginning with the immediate news of the day: what staffing looks like, if there are any callouts, new policy or procedures, or anything else the caregivers may have questions about. Try seeing if there are any rumors that need to be dispelled. You may be surprised at the answer!
Most importantly: Don’t end there. While the information is timely, it’s important that the huddle not be hyper-focused on reminders of things that haven’t been done or what the caregivers still need to do. This ends the huddle on a negative note, and will leave your caregivers not looking forward to the next one! Our department solved this problem by asking the Colleague Engagement Committee (or what I like to refer to as the fun committee) to find a way to end the huddles on a positive note. The simple answer: assign one person per huddle to end the meeting with a creative and positive story, comment, or idea.
At first, the caregivers didn’t really want to be a part of these huddles. They wanted positivity but they didn’t want to be the ones responsible for creating it. This is where accountability comes into play. Once again, the caregivers saw the value in the idea because it was generated by their peers, not by leadership. Holding others accountable is much easier when the rules of the many outweigh the feelings of a few.
It was a little rough at first. There would be caregivers that were assigned the positive huddle ending who got in front of the group without any effort and said, “It’s going to be a sunny day outside.” Finally we decided that anyone that didn’t put forth their best effort had to come up with a new positivity message at the next huddle, and then the next huddle, and the next until they showed a positive effort. People quickly got it right the first time.
It was great to watch. People kept trying to be better than the last huddler.Even the leadership team got into the creativity act. It became a bit of a competition. One person sang a little song. The next made a funny poem. Creativity started to emerge. One of my favorites was the creation of ER bingo. Some examples were, “I got pooped on”, “I saved a life”, or “I started my 15th IV.” Fill the box in the pattern designated for the game and you won a prize. How awesome is that?
One particular huddle that stands out in my mind was done by one of our ER techs. She told everyone a story about how she had brought her mother into the emergency department over the weekend. She stated that she saw the care her mother received from a different set of eyes. She then told everyone that she was proud to be a part of such a caring and compassionate team. I remember the slight pause and silence that filled the room as we waited for her next statement. She then stood in the middle of the room and said, “So, since you all provided such wonderful care to my mother, I would like to give you all a kiss!” It was at this point that she reached behind the desk and pulled out a little basket filled with Hershey’s Kisses.
Engaged caregivers will work hard for you. They just want to be appreciated. Focus on the people and they will get you the scores, meet the metrics and exceed your expectations!