WellStar Health System
What They Do
Provide hospital, physician and other health-care-related services across 78 sites in the northwest suburbs of Atlanta.
What Makes WellStar Health System Great
WellStar's vision is to deliver world-class health care and the organization's motto states that "We Believe in Life Well Lived." This motto shines through in the caring, supportive way employees say WellStar treats its' patients and staff. Given the important and often life-saving work WellStar Health System employees perform on a daily basis, it's not surprising that 93 percent say they feel good about the ways they contribute to the community. For 91 percent of employees, this work also has special meaning beyond simply being a job.
WellStar employees' deep-seated commitment to patient care shows in numerous examples. For instance, when doctors told a young immigrant he had two weeks to live following a cancer diagnosis, a nurse took the patient under her wing. She helped translate Spanish since his English was limited and even accompanied him on a final trip home to Guatemala to see his mother for the first time in seven years. In another case, a care coordinator helped a homeless patient who was struck and severely injured by a car. She took the initiative to get him the care he needed and secured living arrangements instead of returning him to the Chevron Station where he previously lived.
"The family that I am surrounded by are an exceptional group of people," one employee says. "You can feel the love and compassion each one displays to one another as well as the patients."
Founded in 1993, the nonprofit health care system operates 78 sites across the northwest suburbs of Atlanta, Georgia, including five hospitals, nursing care centers, physician practices and urgent care facilities. WellStar has a workforce of 2,027 men and 9,320 women and in fiscal 2013, total revenue of $1.5 billion. In 2011, after a tumultuous three-year period, WellStar hired a new president and CEO, Reynold Jennings, who came out of retirement after a 35-year career in health care to turn the organization around.
Jennings instituted a policy where all leaders, managers and above are expected to donate time volunteering and model community involvement, and no doubt this leadership commitment is partly responsible for the pride employees have in WellStar's impact on the community. But he is also marrying this external focus with an internal focus on employees: During his first week, Jennings donated $75,000 to the WellStar Foundation Fund to support employees in crisis.
It isn't just in times of crisis that the company intends to support employees, however. In its pursuit of a "life well lived," WellStar also provides several programs intended to make people's lives easier through training, wellness programs, and, especially, work-life balance support. There is a free concierge service that employees can use to take care of day-to-day errands, oil changes, grocery shopping and more. And approximately 80 percent of WellStar's staff use at least one flexibility option, such as job-sharing, telecommuting, flex time or compressed work weeks. Clinical staff have access to a web-based self-scheduling tool so they choose shifts that best fit their lives and patient and organizational needs. As a result, 88 percent feel they can take time off when they need to, and 82 percent feel that people are actually encouraged to create balance in their lives.
"I have never worked for a company that pays special attention to the needs of both the business and its employees' personal lives," says one team member. "I appreciate that I can balance both work and my family without the stress of losing my job when situations arise that cause conflict between schedules. There is always an option to make it work for both employer and my family situation."
While seven out of 10 employees say they are paid fairly for what they do, some employees say that there is still room for improvement, citing the demands of the field, cost-of-living increases, or perceived differences in opportunity by role. For its part, WellStar reports that it distributed $10 million in merit increases in 2012 and an additional $3 million in performance bonuses that it provides to all team members based on system patient satisfaction scores (rather than just to managers, as was the case prior to 2011). When taking into account the broader set of rewards that WellStar provides, 86 percent of staff report that their benefits are special and unique.
Altogether, 91 percent of employees feel a sense of pride when they look at what they accomplish and when they tell others where they work. The company provides several avenues for employees' input to shape the care they deliver, and so nine out of 10 not only feel that they carry a lot of responsibility at WellStar, but that they personally make a difference, as well.
"I am proud to be a part of WellStar," one employee says, adding, "WellStar cares not only about patient care but also about you."
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