Departments - March/April 2010

Case In Point

The Grassroots Power of Appreciation
Ohio State University Medical Center's Bravo Recognition Program

By Catherine Eberlein Pfister

Part Two in a Two-Part Series

he Ohio State University Medical Center is a large, multifaceted facility with many different parts and people working toward the same goals: improving people's lives. Named by U.S. News & World Report magazine as one of its 21 Honor Roll Hospitals, OSUMC focuses on three areas—education, research and patient care. 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 an 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 faculty and staff with the help of an organization-wide recognition program called BRAVO! This Recognition Program follows a decidedly simple, corporate-wide, grassroots recognition strategy that has multiplied on the basis of two important words: Thank you.

This month we continue the story of OSUMC's success.

Measuring Spontaneous Recognition

Measuring BRAVO's impact is more a matter of high-touch versus high-tech. "The first year we didn't know what barriers there would be to the program," explained Amy Hurley, CRP and program manager of the center's Faculty and Staff Recognition Team. "We had no idea how many people would use it or what would be the highest level of BRAVO! On the Spot stamps that someone might achieve."

What are BRAVO! stamps? Every employee-from custodians and cafeteria workers to the CEO and medical personnel-wears an ID badge along with a BRAVO! Hangtag to place BRAVO! stamps. Once an employee's hangtag is full—meaning it has 25 stamps—the employee turns it in to the Faculty and Staff Recognition team. The recognition team personally congratulates the employee and gives them a new hangtag. Their manager is notified of their accomplishment and their names are posted on the intranet site. For tracking purposes, the Recognition Team maintains a database of names and hangtag milestones. At the end of the year, the department showcases the Medical Center's highest achievers with a full-page ad in the onCampus newspaper.

Hurley said that in 2007, the program's first year, a total of 6,300 hangtags with BRAVO! On the Spot stamps were turned in, and the employee hangtag with the most stamps had a total of 375 stamps. In all, more than 159,000 sincere thank you's were given in BRAVO's first year. Fifty-nine percent of the entire Medical Center's cost centers (373 in all) had milestone employees (those who turned in at least one hangtag filled with 25 stamps). More than 21 percent of all faculty and staff reached a milestone.

In fiscal year 2008, employee and patient surveys pointed to other encouraging results:

  • The Medical Center posted an overall patient satisfaction score that was 1.4 percentage points higher than the previous year. All categories of patient satisfaction scores were above the previous year; and six of seven clinical business units had satisfaction scores above the previous year.
  • Feedback from focus groups showed that recipients of BRAVO! stamps said that their most meaningful BRAVO! came from either a co-worker or a patient.
  • Faculty and staff recounted what they valued most about the program: the ability to provide spontaneous recognition; focus on the positive; program equanimity; receiving praise from peers; the good feeling of giving a BRAVO!; the impulse to pay it forward; the ability to recognize physicians and the ability to strengthen teams.

At the end of June 2009 (the program's second year), a total of almost 11,500 hangtags were turned in, and the tag with the most stamps reached 750.

"That's a 73 percent increase in usage from last year!" Hurley said. "At least 80 percent of all of our departments have turned in at least one hangtag. It's incredible to see how people have integrated BRAVO! recognition into their everyday work life and how embedded it is in how they function."