Arkansas Hospitals Health & Science

Employees As Family

Employees as Family, St. Bernards Medical Center
Employees as Family, St. Bernards Medical Center

St. Bernards supports the community in many ways – and that includes supporting Arkansas State University, its programs and its athletic teams. This is a photo of employees who joined together to take part in a special “Paint the Town Red” Spirit Day competition sponsored by the Jonesboro Regional Chamber of Commerce at the beginning of the Red Wolves football season.

A Five-Time Finalist, St. Bernards Uses “Best Places to Work in Arkansas” Program to be Sure It Is One

By Rebecca Rasberry, St. Bernards Healthcare

Gift wrapping at Christmas. An on-site health clinic where employees can be seen for minor illnesses and injuries. An employee pharmacy where those on staff can get their prescriptions filled. Participation in a wellness program offering vouchers that can be redeemed in the cafeteria, coffee shop, gift shop or Fit Shop at St. Bernards Health & Wellness. Access to a life health coach.

And it’s all free!

Those things – and much, much more – have led to St. Bernards Medical Center being named a finalist for the last five years in the Arkansas Business “Best Places to Work” program.

“We take part in the Best Places program because it helps us focus on building a culture of engagement and work satisfaction,” says Lori Smith, Vice President of Human Resources at St. Bernards.

“It lets us see how our policies, practices and benefits compare to other businesses in the state. And it challenges us to think outside the box as we see the best practices others share.”

This year, St. Bernards was one of 36 finalists in the program, which helps businesses gain insight into how employees collectively view them, then shares data to help companies benchmark themselves against others.

The medical center has participated in Best Places to Work since its inception in 2013, and is one of five, five-time winners.

The application process is divided into two parts. First, St. Bernards gathers and submits detailed business information, and completes an “Employer Questionnaire” about policies, benefits and demographics, as well as best practices in terms of employee engagement. Information submitted is evaluated as 25% of an overall business score.

The second part is an Employee Engagement and Satisfaction Survey. For small companies, all employees are surveyed, but for larger ones, questions are asked of a random sample of personnel. For St. Bernards, 350 full-time staff were asked to complete these fairly detailed surveys.

Employees as Family, St. Bernards Medical Center

St. Bernards employees say their co-workers are just like family – and families like to have fun. In this photo, nurses on the pediatric floor have put some fun in the day for their little patients (and their families) while supporting Red Nose Day, a national program which focuses on ending childhood poverty.

“Our employees play a major role in whether we are selected for this honor,” says Employee Engagement Manager Tiffany Horton, “because the employee feedback portion of the process is worth 75% of the total evaluation.”

If we had to pick the top three things that speak to the value of the process for us, Smith said, they probably would be:

  • As an organization, we get a heightened sense of pride when St. Bernards is recognized for its commitment to a culture focused on employees and community;
  • The employee feedback report and benchmarking data help us identify areas in which we are performing well and those which offer opportunity for improvement; and
  • We gain a marketing advantage because we can use this tool for recruitment and building our reputation and brand.

Even though St. Bernards is the largest employer in Craighead County, employees say the medical center has a feeling of family. When asked what their favorite thing is about St. Bernards, more often than not they respond – “the people.” And they talk about their co-workers as “my work family.”

For example, here is a comment from the most recent survey: “The best thing about working at St. Bernards is that it feels like a home away from home. I truly feel like I am with my family when I am at work, and they all help show any kind of support when needed.”

Here is another: “St. Bernards is always doing something special for us! It’s just awesome having our Employee Health Clinic and the Employee Pharmacy. I also love our employee discount at the Health & Wellness facility and the availability of payroll deductions for various products. What’s not great about working for St. Bernards?”

“Our leadership team works toward a unique environment at St. Bernards,” Horton says. It is something that has been emphasized throughout the hospital’s 117-year history and ties into the commitment to the formal mission of St. Bernards – providing Christ-like healing to the community through education, treatment and health services.

St. Bernards was founded by the Olivetan Benedictine sisters of Holy Angels Convent in 1900 and, not surprisingly, embodies the characteristics of the institutions that endure:

  • It has a purpose that transcends its business and shapes the work it does;
  • The people associated with St. Bernards view what they do as a community undertaking rather than a job;
  • Its leadership encourages the development and exploration of ideas so St. Bernards can adapt to a changing world; and
  • The organization is fiscally conservative.

All those things factor into making St. Bernards one of the Best Places to Work in Arkansas.

For the “Best Places” recognition program, Best Companies Group analyzes data from the surveys, then combines the two data sets to determine rankings. For finalists, they prepare group employee feedback reports divided into eight core focus areas – leadership and planning; corporate culture and communications; role satisfaction; work environment; relationship with supervisor; training, development and resources; pay and benefits; and overall engagement. And those reports are invaluable in helping leadership teams understand what works well – and what doesn’t.

The Arkansas Business article in the special Best Places to Work issue listed some of the favorite employee “perks”:

  • An on-site health clinic that diagnoses and treats minor illnesses and injuries for free;
  • An on-site pharmacy that offers cost savings and a payroll deduction option;
  • A wellness program that encourages healthy living, with bonus incentives and awards for participation in an annual health screening, monthly classes and challenges focused on health; and
  • Access to a 55,000-square-foot fitness center at a reduced member rate.

Other things employees like include:

  • Free Christmas gift wrapping – with no limit on the number of gifts;
  • Free turkey at Thanksgiving;
  • Christmas party for employees’ children at a local movie theater, with fun that includes popcorn and drinks, photos made with Santa and Mrs. Claus and a meet-and-greet with costumed characters;
  • Monthly leadership rounding on employees to hear concerns and suggestions;
  • Monthly focus groups with the medical center administrator and chief executive officer;
  • Recognition programs such as “Bravo-grams” (with incentives to select gift items), annual Living the Mission Awards for outstanding employees in departments throughout the medical center, and semi-annual service recognition dinners to acknowledge length of service of employees;
  • Regularly scheduled “town hall” meetings with all staff where top leadership shares current information; and
  • Special celebration events for things like National Hospital Week, Founders Month and more.

“Though we learn a lot from the successes of others, the very best information comes from our own employees,” Smith stresses.

“We have the best employees, and we want to keep them…and attract even more exceptional people to our team. Best Places to Work in Arkansas is helping us do that!”

St. Bernards Medical Center is a 438-bed acute care hospital that serves as a referral center for patients in a 23-county area of Northeast Arkansas and Southeast Missouri. It is the only Level III Trauma Center in Northeast Arkansas and has the only Neonatal Intensive Care Unit in Eastern Arkansas. Founded by the Olivetan Benedictine Sisters of Holy Angels Convent in Jonesboro, St. Bernards has served as a trusted provider of compassionate, comprehensive healthcare for 117 years.


The above article is from the Fall 2017 edition of Arkansas Hospitals, a quarterly magazine published by the Arkansas Hospital Association. Vowell, Inc. produces Arkansas Hospitals on behalf of the Arkansas Hospital Association. This article is reprinted with permission.

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