I recently read an article identifying workplace stress as one of the biggest concerns for employees. As you can probably imagine, healthcare professionals report some of the highest levels of workplace stress; unlike many other industries, those who work in healthcare routinely deal with traumatic life-and-death situations. I know how hard ARH employees work and that stress is part of each day, but I also know that reduced stress means increased employee engagement, productivity, and satisfaction, to say nothing of improved patient outcomes. ARH is like a family, and we are all working toward the same goal: providing the very best care possible for our patients and supporting each other as well as the communities we serve. Reducing employee stress can help us realize our goal more effectively. While this might not be an easy task, I would like to encourage you all to make it a priority in 2020.
A primary source of stress, as identified by the article, is employee concern about the health of their organization. It comforts me to know that ARH employees do not need to worry about that: ARH is not going anywhere. We are a huge part of the communities we serve and one of the largest employers in both eastern Kentucky and southern West Virginia. We are continually acquiring additional facilities and acting on our long-term strategic plan. All of this means job security and growth for our employees.
Having a strong team is essential. There are far too many ARH positions that go unfilled every day. We know this causes tremendous stress for existing team members, and so we are aggressively recruiting new employees every day. ARH managers are provided with continuous training on how to manage effectively, including recognizing top contributors, encouraging underachievers, and building a strong team. I am proud to say that many of our managers have done an exceptional job in building and maintaining an effective team, but there is always more to be done!
We also know that much of the stress our employees deal with every day begins outside the workplace. Money issues, childcare, student loans, and personal challenges such as family opioid addiction all contribute to daily stress. We have designed and implemented a number of programs that we hope helps lessen these stresses for our employees, like the ARH Visa card, tuition reimbursement, student loan forgiveness, and the ARH Scholars program. We are always looking for additional programs to address external stressors.
All of these programs are executed through our Human Resource department. Recently, I was pleased to appoint longtime ARH employee, Sonya Bergman, as the new Vice President of Human Resources. Sonya has long led the charge for our outstanding compensation and benefits programs, so she understands just how important it is to know what employees need and provide ways of addressing those needs. With her leadership, I expect to see a continued rise in employee satisfaction.
Our employee engagement survey was held in November, and we are now in the process of reviewing your feedback. From that valuable data, we will continue building our strategy to reduce employee stress and improve the work environment for everyone at ARH. As we work toward these goals, I want to thank each of you for the work you do daily.
Joseph L. Grossman,
President & CEO, Appalachian Regional Healthcare