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More reasons to celebrate: Engage staff, support culture

November 13th, 2012

by Frank D. Byrne

While we have many challenges in healthcare today and anticipate many more in the future, we also have much to celebrate. Yet we often don't give this the attention it deserves.

Celebrations are important for many reasons. First and foremost, the joy and satisfaction we derive from positive recognition and celebratory events can sustain us thorough more difficult times. Many years ago, psychologist Frederick Hertzberg said the two things that engage people most in their jobs are meaningful work and recognition.

In healthcare, we have meaningful work in abundance. We just don't do a very good job of recognition, despite the fact that there is much to celebrate.


Celebrations also are important to support culture. The things you recognize and celebrate are viewed by both internal and external audiences as indicators of what is important to your culture.

At St. Mary's Hospital, we are concluding our centennial year. We have devoted a great deal of thought, effort and time to celebrate this important milestone in our history. It's been important for us for many reasons, but here are just a few.

During the turmoil and disruptive change that occurred in the 90s, many healthcare organizations appeared to lose their way. They seemingly forgot who they were, why they were there and who got them there. Celebrating historical milestones like a centennial can provide a powerful reminder of those key factors and help ensure that your organization doesn't lose its way during the period of transformational change now underway.

St. Mary's held many fun and meaningful celebrations to commemorate our centennial, beginning with a countywide apple giveaway Oct. 11, 2011, to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the laying of our cornerstone. We had an employee picnic, a Foundation gala attended by almost 900 people from throughout our community and a 100th birthday party attended by 3,000 members of our community. That was a great day. Especially meaningful was how many of our employees brought their families with them to share pride in their work.

To top it all off, our public relations and marketing department, which coordinated most of our centennial activities, received a number of awards from professional societies for their work. The awards were for a historical display, a commemorative history book, the cornerstone event, "100 stories in 100 days: social media campaign and a unique partnership with Culver's restaurants that created a brand new frozen custard flavor named "St. Mary's Centennialicious."

While not every organization has a centennial to celebrate, they have other milestones that serve as opportunities to recognize accomplishment, acknowledge heritage and foster camaraderie among staff colleagues. There is much to celebrate and a great deal of good work to be recognized. Take the time. There's so much to be gained.

Frank D. Byrne, M.D., is the president of St. Mary's Hospital in Madison, Wis.


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