An Engaged Staff Makes The Difference

Jan 5, 2017 | From the SVH CEO

One of the most inspiring parts of my day is reading the letters we receive from patients about the excellent care they’ve experienced here. Patients often mention the warm, caring attention and support they received from staff at all levels.

There’s no doubt in my mind that patient satisfaction is directly related to staff engagement, and we’re fortunate to have a wonderful and highly engaged staff. Hospital administration has made staff engagement a top priority over the past six years and it is now a driving force in our culture. I’d like to discuss some of the things we have done to create and strengthen this culture.

Track Employee Satisfaction. I’m pleased to report that SVH ranks among the top 20 percent of all hospitals nationally for staff satisfaction. Each year, we have an outside firm survey employees and determine their level of satisfaction both with the Hospital and their work. This has been an important tool for us, not just in measuring engagement, but in identifying ways to increase satisfaction each year.

One benefit of this is that we retain good staff members. In recent years, our overall turnover rate has been below 10 percent, and turnover among our leadership team has been near zero in most years. We also benefit from the commitment and skills of long-term staff. An amazing 27 percent of our staff has been here for 10 years or more, and 10 percent have worked here for 20 years or more..

Focus On Compensation. While employees value working here, most realize they could make more working at a larger hospital, so we have worked to offer more competitive salaries and benefits.

Our goal is to get staff members to the mid-range average for their job classifications, based on a salary study we receive for comparable hospitals in our region. For the past several years, we’ve implemented annual across-the-board adjustments, usually around three percent, and adjusted salaries for individuals below the mid-range average for their level. We’ve also improved benefits.

Commitment to Quality. Meeting the highest quality standards is part of our culture and affects how we approach our jobs. Each year, staff members complete the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality Culture of Safety survey to monitor and evaluate the overall safe culture for patients, staff and visitors at the Hospital.

The Quality Department holds an annual Performance Improvement Fair to recognize continuous improvement by staff teams in both patient care-related and administrative activities, an event we opened to the community this year. The Hospital also has a “Good Catch” program which acknowledges individuals who recognize and prevent events that could potentially be harmful to a patient, employee or visitor.

A Healing Hospital. Healing and wellness are part of who we are, not just what we do, and this commitment runs deep in our culture. I’ve talked about our adopting the Healing Hospital™ model here and what that means for our culture (July 2016 blog). As a result, nearly 30 percent of staff have graduated from Wellness University, our program to create Wellness Ambassadors, which has motived them to become more proactive in practicing healthy behavior and inspiring it in others.

It’s difficult to quantify just how important it is that the staff cares so deeply about the Hospital and our patients. I often hear of stories about staff members who on their own initiative identified ways to make the Hospital a better place, such as the individual who found a way to quiet the wheels on janitorial and supply carts so they would be less disruptive as they moved about the Hospital. Multiply that by several hundred staff members and you can see the impact of an engaged staff.

In good health,


Kelly Mather
President and Chief Executive Officer
Sonoma Valley Hospital