5 ways internal comms can elevate your organization

Placing frequently among the nation’s top workplaces, OhioHealth relies on employee outreach to foster excellence. How can your leaders and team members tap into those winning tactics?

OhioHealth is consistently ranked among the top 100 places to work, and it scores in the 97th percentile in physician satisfaction.

To win that level of loyalty, internal communications must step up its game. This begins with ensuring that your communications advance your organization’s business and HR strategies, says Aaron Gillingham, vice president of human resources at OhioHealth.

In the Ragan Training video “Winning the hearts, hands and minds of employees to inspire their personal best,” Gillingham explains how to boost your organization into the ranks of top workplaces.

OhioHealth is family of not-for-profit, faith-based central Ohio hospitals and health care organizations. Recent acquisitions boosted the number of employees from 17,000 employees to 28,000.

Here are a few tips for keeping cohesion among the ranks in a large organization during times of change:

1. Align your strategic plans with your culture.

Your organization’s overarching mission must be supported by its culture and values, Gillingham says.

“If there’s a misalignment between the strategies and the values, it’s not going to work,” he says. “It’s going to fall flat.”

OhioHealth created a scorecard emphasizing its values of quality, service, culture and finance. Usually the finance part is more heavily weighted, he says, but the hospital group values them all equally.

2. Seek out internal allies—and help them reach out.

Court potential allies in human resources, finance, IT and other departments, Gillingham says. Then—particularly if you have new acquisitions—help them reach out to their new colleagues.

“These allies serve an important role in the organization,” he says. “We line them up with their counterparts in those new organizations, and we found that it’s a really good best practice to have as we integrate those new organizations into our culture.”

3. Use learning maps to acclimate newcomers.

Learning maps? Yawn. Lots of companies use those to teach how to navigate the company, school new hires in which department does what, or help point the way to newbies.

What fewer do, however, is dedicate learning maps to conveying the essential spirit of the organization, Gillingham says.

“We use these learning maps for one purpose: to make sure folks understand the culture of the organization,” he says.

4. Equip leaders to lead.

Support your leaders as culture ambassadors. OhioHealth holds a thrice-yearly leadership briefing that gathers more than 1,000 top leaders to inspire, engage, motivate and educate them.

“We do have a significant time for people just to network,” Gillingham says. “We see that as really important.”

The planning committee includes marketing and communications, HR and service excellence departments; the agendas are robust. The organization reaches outside its ranks for inspiration, he adds.

One session was called “OhioHealth Leadership Briefing Menu Food for Thought,” and speakers from the restaurant industry were invited. One shared his motto, “Yes is the answer. What is the question?” The agenda, by the way, was designed to look like a restaurant menu.

These meetings reinforce the need for understanding change and staying connected to customers and innovation. They seek to “rally leaders around the notion that we need to think differently in this new world,” Gillingham says.

5. Provide resources for your leaders.

The leadership briefing is intended to inspire and educate the bosses. Yet if they return to their workstations without a clear sense of what to do next, the time will have been wasted.

OhioHealth equips them with presentations, talking points, videos, handouts and other tools to help local facility leaders share important information with their teams, Gillingham says.

“Their job is to go back to their individual groups and teams and present to them exactly what they heard coming out of that particular meeting,” he adds.


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