High Stakes

Taming the Monster We’ve Created

Let’s face it. It’s hard to do employee communications in a hospital. Bedside caregivers don’t spend time in front of computers, so those nifty email alerts and e-newsletters get lost. Others work nights and weekends and can’t make staff meetings.

So what do we do? We add tools. Over time, we’ve tried 50 million ways to reach our most important audience. Flyers, printed newsletters, on-screen announcements, digital screens, intranet sites, signs on bathroom stall doors. I’ve even tried door hangers, for goodness’ sake. Still, we get: “Well, nobody told ME.” (Cue me pulling out my eyelashes in frustration.)

We have so many tools we’ve exhausted ourselves. Worse, we’ve exhausted and confused employees. They don’t know where to go and eventually figure — with communication flying here, there and everywhere — if it’s important enough, they’ll hit me between the eyes with it.

So is there a solution?

Well, for one thing, we’ve got to stop throwing every tool at everything. By doing so, we’ve created a monster that keeps demanding to be fed. Pretty soon, that monster is going to swallow us whole.

Maybe what we need is that “one true source” for our employees to get information on demand.

The intranet was supposed to do that — one hub where when you have a few minutes you can go take a look or find an answer to your question.

But the problem with many intranet sites is that:

  • They are not searchable
  • They have old information
  • Employees can’t access it from home
  • They’re not mobile-friendly
  • In short, they stink

I’m starting to see a new trend with hospitals that I applaud: a separate website for employee communications that anybody can access from anywhere. Like any good website, they’re mobile-friendly. You can look at it from your phone while you’re waiting for your Starbucks coffee. Some even have apps that send alerts when a new story posts.

Here’s what’s different: It’s completely open and transparent.

Huh? Even people who don’t work here can look at it?


My favorites are PeaceHealth’s thecaregiver.org, Kentucky One Health’s insidekentuckyonehealth.org and Rochester Regional Health’s myrochealth.org.

Check them out. They have internal news and external news. A recent post: “Performance reviews due Aug. 15.” Another: “Here’s your brand refresh toolkit.” And from the more newsy front: “New ambulance transportation partnership.”

Unlike the intranet, this is a hub without barriers, easy to remember, transparent and, did I say, accessible from anywhere.

Before you get squeamish about the fact that there are no filters — anybody can see it — think about that for a minute. It’s not only great for your employees, but also a great recruiting tool.

Yes, you can password-protect content, but don’t be too quick to be afraid of what others will see. The worst? They actually may find that you’re a cool, monster-free place to work.


Have Our Thinking Delivered to Your Inbox »