Positive workplaces improve patient experiences

Jun 12, 2019, 12:00am

When a practice becomes negative, patients experience it that way, too. Combat workplace negativity with tips from this leadership expert.

A popular cruise line’s current slogan encourages all of us to “Choose fun.” That mantra is especially helpful when thinking about work, in this case, your dermatology practice. We’re not talking about closing up practice and heading to Disney World. But the dermatology office shouldn’t be a negative experience. When it is, your patients experience it too.

When author and keynote speaker Liz Jazwiec was vice president of nursing for an emergency department in a Chicago hospital located in a less-than-desirable neighborhood, the hospital’s new CEO told the staff, “There’s no reason why customer service here can’t be just like it is at Disney World.” Jazwiec and her colleagues rolled their eyes, but she admits, that’s when she really thought about the connection between customer satisfaction and job satisfaction. Now Jazwiec is an expert in leadership, engagement and service excellence.

 

She’s never stopped thinking about this during her 30 years in healthcare. Practicing medicine can be a tough job, but positive workplaces can help improve patient care, practice efficiencies and help reduce employee turnover.

Conversely, negativity will drain energy and prevent staff from doing their jobs effectively, she says. This lowers overall productivity.

WHAT YOU PERMIT, YOU PROMOTE
Borrowing from her first book, “Eat That Cookie!”, Jazwiec recalls being hired to help a large maternal child organization reduce negativity.

“Every Tuesday every department on every shift received a big plate of yellow cookies with smiley faces,” she says. “Yes, it’s hokey, and it insulted some professionals who thought, ‘I can’t be bought with a cookie, and that’s not going to make all the problems go away.’

“Truth is, cookies are not a problem, but negative people who see bad in everything, like someone bringing in smiley- faced bookies, are the problem,” she says. 

A person thinks we appreciate their behavior and that it’s appropriate when an employee says, ‘It’s been an awful day,’ or ‘I can’t wait to get out of here,’ or ‘This place is crazy,’ as he throws a pen down, and you respond, ‘That’s the truth!’

“As coworkers and leaders, we must stop supporting negative people,” she says. “We have to save our support for people who are positive.”

We should want to look a person squarely in the eye and say, nicely, ‘Just eat the cookie.’

SHIFT FOCUS
Most people spend nearly 90% of their time focused on what happened negatively during their day, she says.

“Let’s start looking at what went right or went really well and that caused us to have pride and restore our pride. That also reduces negativity.”

With so many changes occurring in healthcare, people working in the field no longer feel so heroic, Jazwiec says. Most people really do take pride in what they do, and it’s good to be proud of your job. When that happens, you’re more likely to say, ‘Hey, that was a good day!’

Notice the hero that exists in you and others, Jazwiec says. These positive occurrences may be obvious but may not always be recognized.

 

“Maybe it was reducing someone’s anxiety by sitting with them and comforting them. Maybe it was making someone smile and laugh. Maybe you helped a coworker or they helped you - being proud of your coworkers also drives negativity out of the workplace,” she says.

What seems like a small thing can really matter, and your acknowledgement doesn’t always have to be in full view of
everyone; it can be just as important. 

You and your co-workers may not be able to change the job, but you can change the way you feel about the job, Jazwiec says. And that ultimately will change - for the better - the way you do the job.