Are YOU Special or Replaceable…at work?

I believe, sometime between the year 2,000 and present day, there must have been a “savvy” group of speakers traveling around the world giving workshops to employers and their managers regarding employee retention.

And, their main point was one that sparked immediate retention results for the companies that paid them thousands of dollars to speak in a “city near you”.

Retention due to fear alone. We can't kid ourselves. Things we say to our employees and co-workers don't disappear when they punch out for the day.

Things we say at work, are things people end up rehearsing in their minds forever.

It's shameful.

Their advice:

Let your employees know that there is absolutely NOTHING special about them!

“The best intervention you can implement to increase your employee retention is to simply let them know that they are easily replaceable.

You NEVER want them to think that you need them or would have any difficulty finding someone who would love to fill their spot AND earn their paycheck.

If someone dare leaves your organization, your main priorities should focus on total normalcy and control. As a leader you have to be certain that you never let the other employees see any degree of panic or possibly sadness in your demeanor. You and your company WILL PREVAIL! With or without them…"

I have personally gone through this. And it broke my soul...for awhile.

It can be insinuated through non-verbal gestures, employee group meetings, and general coffee break gossip sessions.

I can only assume this practice is not only limited to nursing and healthcare.

When I have resigned from any of my nursing positions, it was like any evidence of my existence in that position automatically vanished when I handed over my resignation letter—making my two weeks to a month long notice quite uncomfortable at times.

But yet, we would never treat a patient or customer like this. It would be quite the opposite. If a patient or customer becomes dissatisfied or upset for any reason, our goal is to change their perception the best we can regardless of how ridiculous their requests are.

As nurses, we have had to memorize canned verbiage that we speak to every patient in order to increase the hospital's patient satisfaction scores.

The saying, “the patient/customer is always right” has been taken to a level that results in uncontrollable patient expectations and has withered away at the hearts AND individual personalities of the nurses trying to get a 1% pay raise, a free meal in the cafeteria, or a turkey at Thanksgiving and a pat on the back in their next annual evaluation (and I use the term “annual” loosely!).

Personalities have been taken away and replaced by unemotional and policy driven robots at times.

I also believe that the terms patient satisfaction and quality delivered care have been intermingled long enough now that they have become interchangeable. I just don’t believe this is the case.

Combining patient satisfaction with quality care will quickly end up resulting in a lack of genuine human communication, touch, and holistic thinking.

I recently had surgery for a parotid tumor at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN.

Did I receive quality care?

I can’t even begin to tell you the quality of care I received from the staff, modern equipment, and strategically developed processes that moved me through in a systematic and highly efficient manner. The quality was superb.

Did that quality care influence my patient satisfaction?

Well, I can’t claim that the quality of care that I received didn’t positively and greatly impact my satisfaction of the whole journey.

But, I can tell you that my greatest satisfaction didn’t come from any robotic and memorized verbiage that was used on me—I can see right through that stuff. And it wasn’t any high-tech equipment or machinery that was used to aid in the diagnosis, prognosis, or removal of my parotid tumor.

I can definitely attest to the fact that I wouldn’t have valued the experience anymore if I had a soft feather mattress or personal chef deliver my soft food diet that was ordered by the doctor.

What I can tell you is the moments that made the difference for me are the moments that will never be known unless I let them be known.

It was my doctors, nurses, and staff that put down their fake “patient satisfaction” mask and let me into their lives and allowed themselves to be interested in mine.

And for this reason, I want to tell personally some of these people that:

There is absolutely SOMETHING special about them!

They are NOT easily replaceable

Their hospital WOULD HAVE difficulty finding someone who would take their spot, their paycheck, AND be the exceptional person that they are.

And if they dare ever leave Mayo Clinic, the other employees would definitely see a degree of panic and sadness in the demeanor of their supervisors and administration. Mayo Clinic would never be the same without them…

Dr. Kerry Olsen: Thank you for looking me in the eyes and telling me the truth of the situation. Your commitment to a transparent and trusting relationship with each of your patients is apparent in your practice. You bring with you a peaceful and confident presence.

Dr. Michael Olson: Thank you for taking the time to answer all of my questions without hesitation. Your serious demeanor signifies your passion but your humble personality dignifies an anxious and scared patient. The ability to trust you as a physician was immediate.

Dr. Anesthesiologist: Thank you. I'm so sorry I don't remember your name. I think I was too overwhelmed at that point. I want you to know I appreciated the time you gave to me. I realize that most people don't understand that their AIRWAY and hemodynamic stability is your responsibility during surgery, but I sure do. You didn't have to be so kind but I truly appreciate the fact that you were!

Nurse Anesthetist: Thank you. I never saw your face but I heard your soothing voice as you assured me that I would be taken care of. You comforted me as you put me to sleep and prompted me to think of the blessings in my life rather than the reality of what was about to happen. It made a difference.

Stephen, RN: Thank you. It’s no wonder that you have two daughters in the nursing field who want to be like their mom and dad. The world is a better place with your family helping to care for its patients. I will NEVER forget drifting asleep in that cold and sterile operating room with your hand on my arm and the knowledge that you had prayed for me and the rest of your patients on your way to work that day.

Brian, RN: Thank you. I know you really don’t get many thanks as a nurse in the recovery room. But, you made a difference for me. Not only was it so cool to find out you went to school at Indiana University and; therefore, you are somewhat a fellow Hoosier, but you were attentive and respectful during my stay in recovery. If I got any of these facts wrong, I apologize. I was, of course, a little groggy!

Mary, RN: Thank you. I wasn’t kidding when I said I was so glad to see your kind face. You exhibit kindness in all of your actions and tone of voice. Your ability to make a patient feel important when you have a hundred other patient requests in the meantime is priceless. Hearing about your family and bending your ear about mine gave me the vacation I needed from the current situation I was in. It helped ease my anxieties and my pain. You are impacting lives.

Amy, RN: Thank you. I didn’t even have to say anything. You anticipated my concern and resistance in looking in the mirror the first time after the doctor removed the wrap from my head. You didn’t tell me it looked fine—because it didn’t. I was cut from the front to the back of my ear and down my neck. If anyone had told me that if looked “fine” I would have completely lost all trust in them. You explained the healing process with me and made me gain the confidence to look at it for the first time. You were real and that’s what I needed at that moment.

Sweet Nursing Assistant: Thank you. I hate that I didn’t even catch your name. You didn’t know that I was listening to you offer words of encouragement and uplifting motivation to my roommate who had many difficulties on and off. You still found time to make me feel a little better about my situation by helping me wash my hair with a smile on your face the whole time. You never made me feel like I was taking up too much of your time and made me feel important.

I’m ending this post by saying, each one of us are special in HIS sight. We were made in HIS image. There is no one else on this earth like us.

You are not replaceable.




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