Aligning & Recognizing Front-Line Employees In Unique Work Environments

How one client created a value-based culture in a healthcare environment.


As a member of the complex healthcare industry, our client and their employees are in challenging situations every day. Devoted to providing continuous, quality care to chronically ill patients, our client’s employees help patients lead fuller, more active and vibrant lives. But when it comes to their own wellbeing, these caregivers often make themselves a secondary priority. 

Putting Employees First Is the First Step

Our client wanted to leverage the value-based care their employees provide to patients to create a value-based culture centered on its people. But this provided a challenge—most employees do not have traditional office environments. They spend their time on open dialysis clinic floors with a shared computer station, with little access to email or other technology. Our client needed a partner who could develop a comprehensive solution that addressed the non-traditional workplace and help increase employee engagement.   

Getting All the Details Is Key

ITA Group traveled to our client’s headquarters to facilitate an employee engagement strategy session, helping further define KPIs and program strategy. We gained a deeper understanding of their brand and engagement challenges, and we defined future goals for enhancing their culture. 

In just one live session, ITA Group gathered all the details to start building our solution strategy—a plan to hit on their key corporate goals of improving company culture and creating the best employee experience.

Our Solution: Test for the Future

We wanted to not only improve the company culture, but also develop an engagement initiative for the entire employee journey—from hire to retention to retirement. Based on our assessment and discovery session, we recommended starting with one program. Using one regional group with 4,000 employees, rather than the entire 110,000 global population, we could fine-tune initial efforts to get the full company launch right the first time. 

The chosen regional group was selected because of consistently low engagement survey scores. It was time for us to turn those scores around. We did this by educating team members on the company’s core values and offering tools to facilitate recognition among clinics. It gave them a sense of purpose. A sense of place. And a feeling of security and involvement with the organization. 

We developed Stand Out, a program to help employees stand out each and every day.

Our engagement solution focused on aligning all team members around a common purpose, and transforming their company culture in the spirit of becoming a best-in-class employer. With a structured hierarchy and diverse roles in place, we created audience segments to allow for multiple levels of recognition. This allowed for different strategies that matched the various audience types.

Creative Communications & Celebratory Events

We knew our client wanted a bold, creative theme to launch the program—one that would resonate and connect to their employees. So we developed Stand Out, a program to help employees stand out each and every day, while recognizing team members who deliver exceptional care through displays of the company’s core values.

This was an exciting new initiative, and we wanted to celebrate the launch. Organizing a kick-off campaign with a launch event helped hype the refreshed culture message and also encouraged managers to host launch parties and subsequent recognition events. Since 40% of the target audience did not have an email address, we knew we had to create awareness through various outlets. 

We created an entire email campaign for managers to be informed prior to the employee launch, along with web-based training sessions (and managers said they had never been so informed before!). We also provided managers with launch kits, including posters and table tents for break rooms, writing pens with the core values, printed employee and manager brochures, and digital desktop and screensaver graphics. Following the kick-off, we sent follow-up launch emails and ongoing monthly e-newsletters that included real recognition examples and best practices to ensure team members continued to hear core value messaging. 

Our client wanted to connect with their employees on an emotional level. With our solution, we could help build authentic relationships and nurture those connections over time. Since our platform is flexible and scalable, we supported both formal and informal recognition. 

Recognition Structures

We developed the following recognition structures to give managers and employees numerous ways to recognize each other for living the core values.

  1. Peer-to-Peer or Team – Non-monetary, no points
  2. Manager-to-Employee – Points distribution or non-monetary
  3. On-the-Spot Recognition Cards – Tangible cards that can be redeemed for points using a code
  4. Quarterly Nomination & Annual Winners – 25 winners per quarter who receive catalog points and a crystal plaque as well as five annual winners from this group who receive points and a trip to headquarters
  5. Years of Service – First year anniversary e-card

Initial Results: Recognitions Were Off the Charts

In just the first year, we saw significant improvement between the first group and other regions, validating the use of our solution.

Key Takeaways

  1. Great Plains had the lowest score of all the regions in the Recognition and Appreciation section of the year one engagement survey
  2. After implementing the recognition program in early year two, Great Plains’ recognition survey score increased by 63.2% for that year

Engaged Employees Led to Higher Retention

After implementing Stand Out in early year two, employee surveys have indicated a positive correlation between recognition and retention.