Departments - January/February 2010

Case In Point

Ohio State University Medical Center

By By Catherine Eberlein Pfister

Part One in a Two-Part Series

he Ohio State University Medical Center is a large, multifaceted place with many different parts and people working toward the same thing: improving people's lives. Named by Business Week as one of America's best hospitals, OSUMC focuses on three areas—education, research and patient care—across nine business units in different locations. And by anyone's account, its 16,500 employees add up to a population that rivals most small U.S. cities.

It would be extremely easy for such a large, multi-functioning organization to become entrenched in its own location-specific, profession-specific, unit-specific silos. Still, OSUMC has successfully managed since August 2007 to unify its employees with the help of an organization-wide recognition program called Bravo. And it follows a decidedly simple, corporate-wide, grassroots recognition strategy that has multiplied on the basis of two important words: Thank you.

It wasn't always that way.

In October 2006, OSUMC created and rolled out a new brand strategy known internally as the three-pillar People Plan. This plan, founded on the premise that people are the Medical Center's greatest asset, had a three-legged approach. First, build a talent base. Second, foster excellence. And third, develop leaders.

This new brand strategy essentially put a high-beam spotlight on the center's current employee recognition strategy. And the sight wasn't pretty. OSUMC found that there were too many individual recognition programs that were business-unit-based and narrowly focused. They weren't aligned with the Medical Center's mission, vision and values. Surveys showed that many of the center's faculty and staff members didn't feel recognized for their performance. Recognition, to some, meant little more than goodies and "stuff." And to others, high performance was simply a part of the job so they were unable to appreciate the value of a true recognition program.

It was apparent to everyone at OSUMC, especially senior management, that the old-school way of recognition needed its own life-saving operation. It was decided that in order for the new brand identity to succeed, a new recognition strategy had to be developed and woven into the fabric of the brand promise: personalized health care.

"The growth and change of the Medical Center, along with the goals of the strategic People Plan, made the need for an organization-wide recognition program apparent," said Sharon Schrock, the former director of the center's Faculty and Staff Recognition Team. (Schrock recently retired, in September 2009.)

"We had an antiquated day-to-day program and found that we couldn't just give it a new paint job," said Amy Hurley, CRP and program manager of the center's Faculty and Staff Recognition Team.