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Employee Feedback Is Driving Conversations and Improvement

How do we experience joy in our work? 

Some of the onus is on us to discover what brings us joy. The environment we work in also significantly influences how fulfilled we are in our work. 

The Better U faculty and staff survey is a way for employees to voice their opinions and take part in shaping U of U Health into the best workplace it can be. It encourages conversations about how we can improve and the steps we need to take. 

The survey is helping us understand what our teams need to find joy in their work.

Transplant Clinic Team, U of U Health
Specialist Vianey Cook and Registered Nurse Erin Davis in Transplant Services.

What We’ve Learned from Better U 

Better U is an annual survey with a mid-year check-in. The inaugural survey went out in October 2023. The Spring 2024 check-in survey opens this month. 

More than half of U of U Health employees (59%) completed the fall survey. This is a good start for the new feedback tool. The results highlighted strengths and areas for improvement. The highest-scoring outcomes were engagement, inclusion, and dimensions of well-being. 

Survey results also indicated signs of burnout, with 37% of employees reporting burnout symptoms. 

Respondents identified several areas for improvement. We are already taking action to address the following: 

  • Compensation is a top priority across the health system. The human resources team and other key stakeholders are examining various compensation models and transparent future solutions to implement systemwide. 
  • Improved communication regarding system direction and goals and more inclusive decision-making is also a priority. To encourage open dialogue with employees and leaders, employee town halls are being reintroduced across the system. Leaders are also promoting the use of feedback systems such as This email platform is designed for employees to submit questions, concerns, ideas, and comments to U of U Health leaders. 
  • Many employees want to see systemic changes. There has not been a mechanism to present, discuss, and find solutions for many of these issues. Moving forward, areas of improvement identified in Better U will be incorporated into U of U Health’s strategic plan and directed steps, operational plan for U of U Health Hospitals & Clinics, the joint operating group committee, and the work of other groups across U of U Health. The goal is to elevate top concerns so they can be managed systemwide. 

More details are accessible to U of U Health employees on the Better U Pulse page.

Member of Women's Health Team, U of U Health
Members of the Women's Health team.

Improvement Programs Making a Difference 

Across U of U Health, teams are using employee survey feedback to gain insights and implement improvement plans. This ongoing process has been instrumental in bringing positive change. 

In recent years, employee feedback sparked the development of the following improvement programs. Better U data is furthering this work. 

The Department of Pediatrics has a unique work culture. More than 400 faculty and staff work exclusively in a children's hospital in partnership with Intermountain Health. Recently, the department established an Office of Faculty Development and Engagement to promote leadership skills through programs like Women in Pediatrics. They also developed new mentorship and coaching programs. 

Prompted by Better U survey results, the department hosted a series of town hall meetings with staff. They learned that insufficient communication between teams is a real issue. They are actively developing new methods for improving shared communication. 

The Department of Internal Medicine started the Leadership Immersion Program, an intensive two-year leadership training experience for mid-career women faculty and underrepresented groups in medicine. The department also appointed a vice chair for culture and community to foster an environment that celebrates the unique contributions of every member. This office of the vice chair also provides additional support for faculty who are first-generation college graduates or from rural and other underserved communities. 

The department uses John Kotter's 8 Steps for Leading Change model with a focus on building physician well-being and reducing burnout. In partnership with the Resiliency Center, it’s implementing tools from the American Medical Association's Joy in Medicine health system recognition program.

Internal Medicine Leadership Immersion Program leaders and trainees, U of U Health
Internal Medicine Leadership Immersion Program leaders and trainees.

In February 2021, U of U Health Hospitals & Clinics’ Department of Nursing launched an effort to support the well-being of its nearly 7,000 team members. Burnout was identified as a persistent issue. They used the Listen-Sort-Empower model to understand and improve overall well-being and introduce shared governance.

The Better U survey highlighted the need for better communication. New strategies were implemented to collect feedback from nurses at every level. Additionally, a nurses’ advisory board was organized to meet monthly with the chief nursing officer. Although challenges still exist, the Department of Nursing is committed to improving financial, mental, and physical health for their teams.

Following Through with Next Steps

Conducting a systemwide survey of this size for 25,000 people takes collaboration across departments. Key collaborators include the Resiliency Center, Human Resources, Health Equity, Diversity, & Inclusion, Faculty Affairs, and Marketing & Communications.

Culture change is a continuous and gradual process. It can be challenging to implement and track. Better U is making it easier to pinpoint areas that need improvement and monitor our progress over time.

Regularly checking in with team members validates their opinions. It demonstrates a commitment to take action. It’s crucial that we follow through with this commitment to ensure our teams and our system are thriving.

Amy Locke, MD

Amy Locke, MD, FAAFP

Amy Locke is Chief Wellness Officer for University of Utah Health. She leads the design and implementation of wellness/well-being programs across campus and the community to empower patients, faculty, staff, and learners to live a healthy life. Locke is also executive director of U of U Health’s Resiliency Center, professor of family and preventive medicine, and adjunct professor of nutrition and integrative physiology. She serves as chair of the Board of Directors for the Academic Consortium for Integrative Medicine and Health. She received an MD and completed a residency in family medicine at the University of Michigan.  

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