APA Center for Organizational Excellence: National Winner

The Awards

Not-For-Profit Category

Christiana Care Health System, Helen F. Graham Cancer Center, Cancer Care Management Department

“Teamwork Makes the Dream Work”

Delaware – The Helen F. Graham Cancer Center (HFGCC) features some of the world’s most advanced medical technology, onsite research laboratories and an array of services for the diagnosis and treatment of more than 30 types of cancer. The HFGCC is part of the not-for-profit, non-sectarian Christiana Care Health System (CCHS), a major teaching hospital and one of the country’s largest health care providers, ranking 17th in the nation for hospital admissions.

Employee Involvement

Each year, just prior to their annual retreat (see Rejuvenating on Company Time), staff at HFGCC’s Cancer Care Management Department voice their opinions through an employee survey that covers issues related to leadership, team effectiveness, communication and work satisfaction. Retreat organizers then choose topics and exercises based directly on the survey responses. Most employees work in teams related to their area of expertise and are included in all decisions, changes and initiatives related to their respective departments. Beyond retreats, staff is asked for input on making organizational improvements. After a recent change in administration, all staff met individually with the medical director and vice president to share their work, projects and challenges and receive feedback, resource advice and support.

Health and Safety

In addition to its wide range of health and wellness offerings, the organization recently launched a new, password- protected, confidential wellness website with resources for both physical and emotional health. The online tool can be used to track food choices and exercise plans and view videos on workstation exercises. It is also linked to, and provides personalized recommendations based on, an employee’s own biometric results such as blood pressure, blood sugar and BMI. A designated Wellness Champion in each department brings health and wellness information to staff, supports healthy lifestyle changes and leads a weekly after-work yoga group.

Employee Growth and Development

All employees are scheduled for quarterly one-on-one meetings with the director. At these meetings, staff share current projects and caseloads as well as suggestions for improvements. Creating or revising programs or process changes, problem-solving, interests and dislikes are also discussed. The director takes the time to consider whether employees are being most effectively utilized with regard to their skills, talents and interests. Through these meetings, the director is able to gain a sense of overall employee satisfaction, and many positive internal changes have come about as a result.

Work-Life Balance

The department’s greatest support to employees in balancing their work and life demands comes from its willingness to be flexible with scheduling. In most areas, employees are allowed to determine their own start and stop times, which can vary from week to week. For example, a staff member may need to start work earlier or later to carpool children to school, assist a family member with an illness, attend an appointment that falls in the middle of the day, or adjust for a partner’s rotating shifts—without using vacation time.

Employee Recognition

All staff members have a day in which their specific role is celebrated. HFGCC hosts such days during Nurses’ Week, Social Work Month, Registered Dietitian Recognition and Administrative Professionals’ Day, to name a few. Celebrations include refreshments and gifts, and all team members support the event by bringing in food, writing songs or poems, putting on a skit or some other form of entertainment in praise of their peers and services they provide. Throughout the year, holidays are also recognized. A Halloween contest, “Fat Tuesday” and other special days allow staff who work together in other departments but often don’t see each other to join in the fun and celebrate face-to-face.

The Bottom Line

HFGCC’s leadership, policies and procedures have fostered a highly skilled and committed staff who maintain a professional culture in which patients come first. As a team, department employees work closely and draw from each others’ expertise to provide the best quality care. Team members report that they have been able to reduce their stress, make health improvements and engage in a more active lifestyle. The department also boasts the highest job satisfaction levels in the health system and a zero percent turnover rate in 2012. Indeed, HFGCC’s Cancer Care Management Department exemplifies its motto, “Teamwork makes the dream work.”

"The Minnesota Psychological Association award process provides very valuable feedback for any company that understands the tremendous value of transforming the workplace into a truly great place to work."

Paul Grundy, MD, MPH
Well Being Director, West
IBM Global Well Being Services