A negative work environment creates stressed and disengaged employees. This yields high turnover rates and poor job performance—things that have costly consequences for environmental services (EVS) teams.
On the other hand, a positive environment can improve team success and, according to this study from the University of Michigan’s Center for Positive Organizations, lead to higher patient satisfaction scores in healthcare facilities.
In other words, a healthy culture generates actual results.
For EVS directors and their teams, those results aren’t just data to be analyzed, but represent the safety and health of real patients and their loved ones.
So how do you create a positive work environment for your EVS team? To find out, we asked some of HHS’ top performing EVS directors and assistant directors how they do it.
For Willie Nash, an EVS director in Colorado Springs, Colorado, creating a positive experience begins with his own attitude.
“To be successful in my job, I had to fall in love with the game. I had to learn to love what I do and create a ‘why’ when I didn’t have one. If you don’t have a ‘why,’ it’s easy to become frustrated and have long days. But when I see a patient that’s getting better, I know that it’s because of me and my team. We are the reason a lot of patients get to go home; we keep them safe and healthy.”
Willie knows his “why,” but it’s the way he spreads his passion to his team that results in a great experience for every team member.
“The first thing I do when I come to a new account is meet with all the assistant directors and supervisors and let them know what kind of director I am. I tell them about the activities we’re going to do and how we are going to live our mission.”
This helps form a team that genuinely cares about what they do every day—something that 90% of people will take a lower paycheck for.
At a facility in Tyler Texas, Assistant Director Bianez Flores relies on her day-to-day check-ins to help maintain a healthy work environment.
“Whenever I round, the first thing I do is ask my team members how their day is going, especially if I can tell that they’re upset about something. We all have our days, so I want to be someone who can pull them aside and ask if there’s anything I can help with or if there’s anything that they need from me.”
Bianez hustles to make sure every team member knows she cares and is there for them. “If I know someone is having a bad day, I always follow up with them because I genuinely care and want them to have a good day.”
“I always give my team members an opportunity to take a second and refocus if they need it. Because ultimately, even if we’re having a bad day, we’re here to help care for the patient.”
Doyle Morse, a director in Tyler, Texas, provides positive reinforcement to keep his team members engaged.
“I try to make sure every conversation ends with something positive. I always remind my team members that the work we’re doing is important and that they are a valuable part of this organization.”
Doyle recognizes that every interaction he has with a team member affects the overall culture he’s building.
“Doing this job well requires an immense amount of patience. A successful team is built through mentoring and coaching, which involves a lot of reminding and reteaching. If you don’t have the patience to do that, your culture will deteriorate over time.”
At a facility in Houston, Texas, EVS Director Denine Temple builds relationships with her team members to lay the groundwork for a positive work environment.
“When I first started, I interviewed each of my team members one-on-one. I start by opening up to them about myself and my story, and then ask them to share about themselves. I ask them to tell me two goals they have for the year, and what they think their strengths and weaknesses are.”
“I also ask them how they like to be recognized. Do they like handwritten letters? Private acknowledgement? Or a big shout out in front of the team? Everyone likes to be recognized differently so I want to make sure I’m recognizing them in the way they prefer.”
Denine is an incredible relationship builder and she loves getting to know her team members. She earns their trust which allows her to hold them to a high set of standards.
“I have to get everyone’s buy-in. When you have that, a positive culture is not hard to maintain.”
She earns team member trust by doing two things. “I listen and I follow through. I listen to my team members. I ask for their input on projects to find out if they think something will work well or not. Then, I always try and follow through on what I say. If I don’t follow through, then my words become empty and I lose that trust.”
The Patient Experience
A positive work environment activates team success. In healthcare, that success is measured by the overall patient experience.
These four EVS directors—and countless others across our company and the world—cultivate an environment where team members succeed and patients come first.
At HHS, our mission is to be successful in identifying and serving our customers’ needs, and our EVS directors carry out that mission every day.
Learn more about our EVS services and how we help our partners provide an exceptional patient experience.
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