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This page is devoted to the management of volunteer programs in health care settings.

~February 2014~

Workplace Happiness = Excellent Customer Service

raised hands


The concept of the power of positive thinking is nothing new.  There is now some research that suggests that positive thinking translates into a happy workplace.  Interestingly, that happy workplace translates into better customer service.  And for healthcare organizations, that is a key element in the CMS reporting of HCAPHS.  After all, the final question is the likelihood to recommend for future healthcare needs.CHART


So it was interesting to read the article “The Power of Positive Tinkering” in the September 2013 issue of Workforce.  The article makes mention of an example where hospital employees were trained to make eye contact with patients and visitors within 10 feet and say hello at 5 feet.  Not surprising after six months, the likelihood to recommend experienced a five percent increase. 

How does this break down for those of us dealing with volunteers?

  • Encourage volunteers to meet patients, visitors and family members at eye level.  That means standing up as people approach the information desks.
  • The concept of eye contact within 10 feet and speaking within 5 feet is also a good one to incorporate.
  • Encourage use of the AIDET or some other introductory tool so patients, visitors and family members can be put at ease. 
  • Make small talk and/or chit-chat as volunteers escort patients, visitors and family members to their destination.  Again, this helps put people at ease and takes their mind off things.
  • It is important to close the interaction with the patient, visitor or family member by asking them if there is anything else you can do for them before you leave.
  • Finally, don’t forget to thank them for choosing your healthcare organization.

It’s the little things that speak volumes and makes big differences.  All of this done with a positive outlook can only lead to a happy workplace, positive outcomes and higher satisfaction for the patient.

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The author of the Heath Care Volunteer Programs column is Mary Kay Hood MS, Hendricks Regional Health, Danville, IN (317) 745-3556. With a BS degree in biology from Marian College and a Master of Science in Management from Indiana Wesleyan University, Mary Kay has been involved in volunteer management over twenty years with a zoo and in the health care field. During that time, she completed the Management of Volunteer Programs course offered at University of Indianapolis, several supervisory training programs as well as the Indiana Hospital and Health Association’s Management Institute offered by the Executive Education Program, School of Public and Environmental Affairs at Indiana University. Mary Kay served on the Nonprofit Training Center of United Way from 1993 to 2006. During that time, she taught many workshops also facilitating speaker arrangements for the Basic Volunteer Management series. Additionally, she has presented at various national and international conferences. Mary Kay served as president of the Central Indiana Association for Volunteer Administration (CIAVA) from 1993-1997 and the Indiana Society of Directors of Volunteer Services (ISDVS) from 2006-2008. She was also the recipient of the 1995 Outstanding Director of Volunteer Services Award and the 2002 United Way of Central Indiana Volunteer of the Year Award. Most recently she served on the Steering Committee for COVAA resulting in the formation of a new national membership organization for those in volunteer management, the Association of Leaders in Volunteer Engagement (AL!VE). With several published articles, she is also author to two books: The One Minute Answer to Volunteer Management Questions and The Volunteer Leader as Change Agent.

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