How Ochsner Health promoted employee resilience at the height of the pandemic

Sharing challenges helped frontline workers felt heard, seen and supported.

Ochsner Health started talking about burnout and professional well-being before many other organizations, dating back to 2017. But when the pandemic struck in 2020 and changed the entire world — especially the world of health care — they knew their definition of well-being needed to change, too.

In the March Ragan Communications Leadership Council Member Call, Leigh Ann Christovich, assistant vice president of internal and executive communications, and Taylor Murrow, supervisor of internal communications, shared how Ochsner Health used empathy and vulnerability to reassure and rally frontline medical staff during the height of the COVID crisis.

Starting from scratch

In many ways, the southeast Louisiana health system was ahead of the curve on employee wellbeing. In addition to discussing burnout, in 2019 they began talking seriously about professional well-being, but mainly in terms of physicians and advanced practice providers — think nurse practitioners or physician assistants. The focus of those early efforts was looked to improving efficiency, rather than develop personal resilience.

Then came the pandemic.

Communications quickly shifted to address everyone and centered around personal resilience and managing through a crisis, rather than on tips for productivity. By the end of 2020, they began incorporating wellness tips into the email newsletters. This proved tricky — with 30,000 employees and wellness information spread across departments, it took care to incorporate well-being into all aspects of communication. A new wellness hub on the intranet helped centralize resources.

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