The Joy of Work

June 26, 2015

CHW Logo

“I love working here, and I love what I do. I love to clean. Cleaning is in my blood!” one of the environmental services attendants animatedly told me the other night while I was rounding in the hospital. Wow. I’ve said one of my goals is for people here to have joy at work, and here I was seeing it in full bloom. Now, I can’t honestly say everyone who works here would claim to be joyful – far from it. We do have a pretty engaged staff, and one of the things that first attracted me to Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin is the deep sense of purpose and commitment to providing kids with the best and safest care that I saw in virtually everyone who works here. At the same time, this can be a stressful environment. We operate 24/7/365, we deal with emotionally difficult situations, the pressure of dealing with sick children can be intense, and as a not-for-profit organization we don’t always have all of the staff and other resources we’d like to have. So acknowledging room for improvement, all in all I think people here are pretty content.

But talking with that enthusiastic member of the cleaning staff reminded me that contentment isn’t quite the same as joy. I don’t want to be satisfied with my job, I want to love my job. I want it to be meaningful and fulfilling. What does it take to go from satisfaction to joy at work? Paul O’Neill, former Alcoa CEO and Treasury Secretary, and a member of the Lucian Leape Institute at the National Patient Safety Foundation, identifies three key factors:

  1. Am I treated with dignity and respect by everyone?
  2. Do I have what I need so I can make a contribution that gives meaning to my life?
  3. Am I recognized and thanked for what I do?

What strikes me about this is the fact that much of what determines whether we derive joy and meaning from our work is not about the organization itself, but about colleagues and co-workers. While having sufficient resources to get the job done is important, it’s at least as much about how we treat each other, in a spirit of collaboration and integrity.

So as I pore over the results of our latest employee engagement survey, I’ll be thinking about what I can learn so that more people will be as joyful about their work here as that EVS attendant I met the other night.


Laudato si

June 19, 2015

CHW LogoLooks like caring about the environment is cool again.  There’s the new encyclical from Pope Francis, polls showing Americans increasingly rate climate change and other environmental concerns as important, and craft brewers coming together to support clean water.  As if we need more evidence, yesterday we had the kick-off meeting of the Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin sustainability task force.  Twenty volunteers from all different parts of the organization and all different roles got together to start the process of assessing where we are with regard to sustainability, and suggesting targets for improvements.

We started the meeting with each person introducing her- or himself and talking about why this is important to them.  A common theme was concern about the impact we as individuals and organizations have on the planet.  Many people talked about how they take care to reduce, reuse, and recycle at home – they want to be able to do the same at work.  A few commented on the imperative for Children’s as a community leader to set an example and use our practices as an opportunity to educate children and families about how they can improve their own sustainability.  It was clearly a deeply personal, sometimes even spiritual, motivation for most of us.  At the same time, several people noted that reducing waste also a way to reduce expense, thus linking environmental and financial sustainability – a concept known as the triple bottom line, or “people, planet, profit.”

Whatever their inspiration, I am so grateful that so many people care enough about our organization and our environment that they are willing to share their passion and energy to help us reduce our impact on the planet.

%d bloggers like this: