Episode 12: Engaging in Healthcare w/ Special Guest, Latecia Pusha - HR Manager of Effingham Health System

CA Short All-In Employee Podcast

Nelsa and Scott have a lively conversation with Latecia Pusha, HR Manager with Effingham Healthcare Systems about their experience with the People Are Everything Platform. Challenges and successes in celebrating employees during COVID-19 are also discussed. Listen to the podcast below, or continue reading for the full transcript.

[00:00:41] Welcome to the CA Short All in employee podcast. And I'm your host, R. Scott Russell with Nelsa Webber. And we're so glad that you've joined us today. Let's dive in. 

[00:01:00] Nelsa, can you believe it's the first episode of Season two of the All In Employee podcast? 

[00:01:09] I am so excited, happy 2021, everybody. 

[00:01:13] Oh, my gosh. We're back. Nelsa, we're back. We're still here. 

[00:01:16] Yes, we have made it through and we did. And the birthday. Happy belated birthday. 

[00:01:26] But I do appreciate your sentiment. Yes, I did have a big birthday. I have crossed what most would call over the hill and have reached the 5-O and I know. Yeah, exciting for some of y'all, I guess. 

[00:01:44] Listen, you're only going up from here.

[00:01:47] Yeah, but when you're trying to look, you know, thirty seven for the rest of your life, the more you keep gathering, the harder it is, you know, the harder it is time to, like, color the beard and get the gray out of the hair. 

[00:02:01] And you said thirty seven. My goal I my life can I just was thirty seven for the rest of my life.

[00:02:09] And somebody told me recently I was going to have to move that mark up to like forty two, forty three. 

[00:02:17] Yeah. I couldn't win. I can't win. But you know what, I'm still here and I'm thrilled to be here and taking out some of that because it is. 

[00:02:24] It is. It is. I'm celebrating the year of my fiftieth. So I'm going to do all the things I can possibly do during the COVID era because COVID is still here with us too. 

[00:02:35] Yeah, I know now some exciting things that have happened since you and I were last together and had our show last season is that they are rolling out vaccines right. Rolling them left and right. 

[00:02:47] So we are ready. Good. That can get going. 

[00:02:50] Yeah that, and we have a guest. Oh, gosh, we love guests and you know, I've got some lined up for us now, so they're going to be great for the season. 

[00:02:58] And we've got a special one. She's going to be coming up in a few minutes. And I'm so excited to have her here with us, Latecia Pusha from Effingham Health System, which is one of our clients, but also one of my very favorites.

[00:03:13] And I'm so excited to have her here because she's going to she'll talk a little bit about employee appreciation with us. They have a fantastic program there in that health system and how they drive management accountability. But we can also say she's in health care. We'll talk to her just a little bit about what what is the vaccine process? 

[00:03:31] What does COVID look like for them? Right. The challenges that they face this year. I was hoping you and I would come back together and this would be all over, but it looks like it's going to take a little bit more time. 

[00:03:42] We're going to be talking about this a little bit longer into this year, but I guess. Yeah, exactly. And you know what? It's 2021. It's the start of a new year, a new season for the podcast. Amazing guests are going to be coming on this season. We're going to have some great people like our listeners. You guys are going to want to be here for it. And so I'm very excited. But one of the things we're going to talk about today, Nelsa, is coming up on March the 5th. It's the first Friday in March about what is a month from tomorrow. 

[00:04:16] It's going to be National Employee Appreciation Day. 

[00:04:20] And that's one of my favorite days in our entire life in our industry. Right, exactly. 

[00:04:26] So now I know, first of all, you shouldn't have to save a day for employee appreciation, but it's still great. I think that we have a day that's nationally recognized and there's some great history there. If you ever want to look at that history and get more about it, you can get that at recognition.org or you can Google it. Same thing I did. But one of the coolest things is RPI, which is, you know, I'm the past president of, RPI was very instrumental in making that a nationally recognized day. 

[00:05:02] And it's great that it's recognized. 

[00:05:02] And I think, you know, at least what it does to me, it says it's not that it should be the only day you recognize employees, that this gives you a day to do something right. Do something special, call it out. And one of the things that we do, yeah, well, one of the things that we do that I wanted to talk about today and because it has been taking on and taking off, is we do a thing called cheers for peers. So we use Employee Appreciation Day as a great day to promote peer to peer recognition. And and I really am a big proponent of peer to peer, because while I think it is important to be recognized by your leader, and that tends to drive some of what I would say your career moves, I think that is recognized by your peers is what helps create that warmth and happiness and excited feeling about coming to work. Day to day sustainability, right? 

[00:06:01] Yeah, yeah, yeah. The people. And so what we do and Nelsa you've seen this with us. But one of the things that we do here at is short and we promote to our clients that have point programs, is that by doing sort of a cheers for peers event is a way to recognize people across your enterprise and allowing your employees to do so. So what we do is we give all of our employees a small bank of points. We don't go crazy. 

[00:06:28] We know you're not going to go out crazy out there. 

[00:06:30] But what we do is we give them a small bank and we allow them to share those points with their peers for that day. So it's controlled. It's a use it or lose it moment. So they have to use the points that day or they get forfeited. And every year that we've done this, we keep getting asked for more like, can we get a few more points? Because I really wanted to recognize so many people and I can only do this many. And and so and we've seen our participation somewhere above that 90 percent, which I think is fantastic, right? 

[00:07:05] Yeah, it is. And it's a time to say thank you when we're not able to do that every day. But it's great to see somebody like in our call center be able to send points back to our warehouse. 

[00:07:17] Right. That's what I was going to say. Yeah. 

[00:07:20] Yeah. Got an order out for them. It's just such a great opportunity. And all of these are captured within PAE. People are everything system. So we can go back later and pull all those verbatim and we can see where everything goes, because I know some of you out there may be thinking, wow, these people, you know, if you start doing that, they're just going to abuse it. Well, that's not really true, because one of the reasons I say we do it once a year is because we can completely control it. But there's also some freedom to that, too, right? We don't give 

[00:07:49] so many points that it's going to make or break somebody's day, but we do, you know, even getting a small one hundred points from your from up here to just recognize something you did, it's a great moment.

[00:08:00] So it's really exciting. Attached to an e-card. Yeah, yeah. 

[00:08:04] They get all those e-cards because you might be you know, let's just say you're somebody who doesn't get recognized often. You know, we always talk about recognition tends to be at the top a lot. Right. And so it's the top 20 percent get recognized as much or more than all of the rest combined. Right. Well, this is a great opportunity for those people who are effectively in the middle to possibly get some type of recognition they may not be getting all the time. So I think it's a great idea. I love it. I've championed it for a great number of years. We've seen some clients taking this all in the last several years, and it's become a big hit with them as well. So if you're listening to us and you're interested, please reach out to us. Assured that we'd love to talk to you, kind of share with you how we do things and maybe that's the right thing for you. So before we introduce our guest and bring her in, she's going to talk a little bit about Employee Appreciation Day as well. Nelsa did you do anything great over the holidays these last this last month or so since we've been together? 

[00:09:08] I did it. I moved into my new house, which was really big for me. So I've been just kind of getting my roots settled and getting my nesting on, decorating, putting things away. I think I may have two boxes left that I haven't dealth with or attended to at this point. So for me, that was really wonderful to experience. Well congradulations. Thank you. But I really missed our time together and our listeners. 

[00:09:39] So I'm excited to start again and you just say I appreciate our time as well. 

[00:09:47] And will it embarrass you if I tell you that I have yet to get my tree down? 

[00:09:51] And I got scolded for that this past weekend, my friend, just put some hearts on it and make it Valentine's Day tree. 

[00:09:59] That's the first thing I got my one of my dearest friends was watching my dog. And so the message I got today when I called to make sure things had been OK was I asked your dog, Emma, if your dad was ever going to take the tree down. 

[00:10:14] So I'm like, oh, I guess I need to get to that. So, yeah, I'm a little bit behind. Had a great holiday season. Had my birthday right after that and just got back from Denver. You know, I flew for the first time in a year. How was it? That's a whole story. Yeah, it was good. It was good actually. Everything was safe. 

[00:10:34] I went to a ski resort out in Colorado for a few days. I will tell you, I felt completely safe the whole time I was there. They really strictly enforced their rules. And it was just a beautiful winter wonderland type of setting. So, you know, I've been trying to have a little bit of fun in 2021. 

[00:10:51] But we've got work. So let's introduce our guest. I'm so excited to have her with us today. Dear, dear friend, client first and then became a dear friend. And now I count her as both. Right. Latecia Pusha from Effingham Healthsystem. She is the H.R. manager. Welcome, Latecia. 

[00:11:11] Welcome to the show. Hello. Hello. Thank you for having me. Oh, we're thrilled to have you. Thrilled, my friend to have you. 

[00:11:19] So welcome to the show. And first thing we like to do, you know what? Just tell us a little bit about you. Tell us what you do there at Effingham and what did you start doing there? What are you doing today type of thing?

[00:11:31] OK, well, I've been with him almost four years now, it's kind of surreal to say that time flies by so fast when you're having fun. But I started here as an HR assistant. I'm currently the H.R. manager, and in my role, I am partnering with everyone to roll out our engagement. So I am, I guess you could say, kind of the engagement champion or the engagement guru for our organization. And I do a lot of other things as well. But engagement is the best part of my job. I love that piece. I have begged my leadership not to take that piece away from me, and I love it. And our organization has loved it. And I've seen so many strides that our organization has made with just the boost in morale, just the boost in teamwork. 

[00:12:24] So I love it the most. That's terrific, engagement guru. 

[00:12:31] That's what I was thinking when you were saying it. And I will tell you, you know, Effingham, you have an amazing staff there. 

[00:12:37] I mean, I will say, I was very fortunate. I've been there since the launch of their program with us and helped train the initial group. And there was a moment in that initial training and initial meeting all those years ago that I've held really close to me. And I like to share that is that I remember being there with our crew and we were training all day and we had about 30 minutes for lunch. And I went down to the cafeteria there at every hand to get lunch. And one of just random employee had been in my training that morning, stepped in front of me and bought me lunch and said, we're so happy that you're here and we're excited about this program. And I've never forgotten it because to me, it exemplifies sort of the the whole model of Effingham. Right. For every every time I've ever been there, it's just they're welcoming. It's like a family. And I think, you know, engaging in recognition and appreciation. You've brought that so much to life there that you can really see the people live it. They live your credo and Dr. Witt's Credo. And we've talked about your CEO, Dr. Frann Witt, and an amazing lady. And she really, you know, is what I would call as your main stakeholder. She is bought in. And one of the things that you guys do that I think almost better than anyone else is the fact that you have a very high level of management accountability. And I want you just to share, if you could, with our listeners a little bit about like what steps do you do there at Effingham? What are you doing to ensure that everyone is bought into your program and that leaders are utilizing the resources they have appropriately? 

[00:14:29] Well, it starts from the top and like you say, Doctor Witt is such a big supporter of the program. So at our organization, not being engaged is not an option, especially from leadership. It's just one of those things that has to be done because we recognized the importance in an engaged employee and a happy employee. It just breaks off into so many different positive results. And what we do in health care is so important to have a well-rounded employee that we really can't sacrifice the negativity or just negative energy here in our organization, because healing is a part of healing, healing, the whole human being from the inside out. But it starts with our attitude. It starts with us being active and wanting to be a part of that healing process. So like you mentioned, manager accountability is very huge in our organization. So it starts from the beginning. Any time we have a new manager, they are highly trained in what our engagement platform looks like, things they should be recognizing staff for, where they are in their rounding that they expected to do once a week, or if it's just what we call rounding with a purpose. So what rounding with purpose is, is that you're looking for moments, those aha. Moments to recognize somebody, not only your department, but just in the organization for just going out of their way to be that phenomenal employee. Because what we realized is that when you wait to engage someone and it's days later or, you know, it may have been a month or so much time has passed. You lost that aha moment. You lost that opportunity to make it special for them. So we pushed the model of recognizing managers on the spot. I mean, recognize our staff on the spot so that they get their moment to shine and just feel appreciated. So a lot of it comes down to just the education of managers, because a lot of managers, what I found out in the past, that they just didn't know how to celebrate someone or what they could do to celebrate someone. And so it was just educating them. And we we do education with management and our leadership team on a monthly basis, a quarterly basis. Sometimes some need a little bit more help there and maybe even a weekly basis, but we educate them. And through that, we saw our scores rise. And not only just the scores, but we saw morale increase. We saw the decreases and complaints from employees. Just tell them that my manager doesn't like me or my manager doesn't appreciate me. We feel we've made a lot of good a lot of great strides and in our program and what we do. But it really comes down to that management accountability piece because like I say, it is not an option that our organization is the expectation. And Dr. Witt says that in every meeting that she has at the same day, the engagement and just being grateful for your team members is the biggest win for all of us because we choose to work for Effingham and we want people to continue to choose to work for Effingham. 

[00:18:05] That sounds so authentic and holistic, Latecia. I love that because even though it's an expectation, it sounds like it's been set by your CEO. It doesn't sound like it's a fake, phony type of engagement that sounds very authentic, you know, and meaningful to people. It sounds like the turnaround that you all have, you know, talked about in the numbers of your engagement. That's amazing. 

[00:18:32] Especially in times of this pandemic where every body has been impacted in either in their finances or in their family, their family structures, it has been such a huge tab, even more much more important. Now, the other tab that we really do pull together as a family, because here in health care, we typically spend more time with each other than we do with our family. So we are a family and we have to take care of one another. So just having a grateful heart and not taking things for granted like we may have in twenty nineteen or twenty eighteen, I think everybody just has a different mindset now. And it is really beautiful to see, it's sad that it kind of came to this. But it's beautiful to see that even in a pandemic that people are really rallying together and you really see that teamwork, that gratitude, that accountability for each other. Just checking in. Hey, are you OK? I can't tell you how many E cards I get from team members. 

[00:19:37] Just saying, hey, just just wanted to say, hey, just wanted to see how you were doing. You know, I appreciate you. It means so much. 

[00:19:45] Right. And that's awesome that because that's one of the things I was going to ask you is how has the platform using the platform that we provide here, PAE, people are everything. How has that helped to manage in this pandemic when so much is virtual, but you all are on the front lines? Have you seen, you know, your numbers shift or increase? Decrease? What have you seen with the use of the platform and how people are engaging with one another? 

[00:20:15] Well, I think initially we did see a decrease, mostly because everything that was was on the media, on the news, you know, right at our fingertips, it was just so, so negative. So it forced my team and myself to come together to kind of get some just some strategies. And I reached out to Scott and say, hey, what can we do? And I will tell you it's the little things that make a big difference. So one of the things that we did with Scotts' help was we started virtual bingo.

[00:20:49] And when I tell you our organization, they will run me down. If I haven't posted the bingo numbers and as I'm talking to you, my phone is blowing up because I have not posted today. Bingo numbers. 

[00:21:02] No, it's the little things like that. 

[00:21:06] So they hold me accountable for posting these numbers, but it's something that they look forward to and they want to check-in and see, oh, you know, did was my number called today. And am I closer to getting getting those points, which makes me closer to earning a nice gift for myself. But we decide doing things, celebrating in a virtual way. We weren't able to celebrate some of our honorees for achievements that they made throughout the year. But through our system, we were able to celebrate them virtually. So everybody in the organization was still able to celebrate them. The honorees were able to still get those accolades from their team members, from their peers. So it didn't stop our celebration, but it probably didn't prevent our celebration. We just had to get creative in celebrating in another way. And PAE definitely helped us to do so very quickly and cost-effectively as well, because that, you know, that's another contributing factor that people don't recognize because it's too expensive. But how much more expensive is it for somebody to leave because they don't feel appreciated or, you know, they just they don't feel that family. Time, training and benefits all of that, right? 

[00:22:29] Yeah, they have though. It adds up and and you know what? I can and I can truly attest to the things you said. Right. I have been very fortunate to have been on site there at Effingham as many times as we can find a reason for me to be there, right. And that's right. One of the reasons I wanted you as the first guest this season, is because when we go backwards a year and I'll share with our listeners the story, I was there with you a year ago and we were preparing for your annual your service event. That and it's a wonderful event and your board is usually there. And, of course, all your corporate leadership is there. And then all the people you're recognizing for not only years of service, but also performance and other things with the hospital system. And literally COVID was about to happen like it was. I think we were there. I was there. And the very next day you were going to have to start, you know, that's where the mask-wearing was going to start coming in. That's where these temperature taking and restrictions. And I remember just being there and we were reveling in the appreciation moment, but also having to have that realization that tomorrow will not look like this anymore. And literally, when you think about it, we're here and we are one year later and we truly are looking at that situation. Right. It truly has been different for us from a year from that moment. And but to see you in action and your organization and in the fact that Dr. Witt you know, she didn't turn her head and say, hey, we're not going to do this program right now, we're going to focus on these things. She she really kept driving home the fact that engagement at high levels equals all the other positives you're trying to get in your business. This is a way to get there. It is a way for any organization. Right. And any type of business type organization when you can create those moments where people are intertwined depending on one another, feeling appreciative of one another. Again, we call it that family moment. And I know for some large organizations that may be a harder concept. But you can do this no matter what size your organization it's truly about driving home new ways of doing business and the expectations that come with that. And again, I feel very blessed to be a partner with Effingham and Latecia knows every time I go there now. So I tried to get a vaccine when I was down there a month ago.

[00:24:59] They said I wasn't quite old enough yet and I said, no, I would love to get it from my partners. Right. So they said, no, you need a way to seventy-five. 

[00:25:08] And I said, oh, that's a long time. 

[00:25:13] I got to wait my turn. But what I'm always excited to be there and we've gotten to do several events together, Latecia and Kevin and Jackie and the rest of the team there that I've known for so long, and I just commend you and Dr. Witt and the team, because, you know, when we look and stack organizations together and use our own internal scorecards, Effingham sits at the very top for participation and engagement and their depth, you know that to me it always stands out because I can look at your organization when others ask me, how did they do that or how do they get there? And I always said, well, it comes down to a couple of things. And truly, one is management accountability. Right. Holding the managers accountable and the buy-in from the top down that you know, we're not trying to convince Dr. Witt that engagement is important. She's the one telling us what's important and how are we going to help her get to her goals. And that is a fantastic partnership and fantastic relationship. And I'm always thrilled that we have it. And I feel blessed to get to be there as much as I can be there. Didn't travel for almost a year and the first place I went was Effingham.

[00:26:28] And so I thought that was a great moment as well. I look forward to seeing you guys some more as time comes, but I know COVID has affected your organization more so probably in the ways that you have to do business and things that you have to do there. Is there anything you have awesome planned coming up? Are you doing anything for Employee Appreciation Day or do you save it up for Hospital Week? 

[00:26:52] We do something, some small things for our Employee Appreciation Day. I think last year we did like an ice cream social. So we haven't yet decided exactly what we're doing for Employee Appreciation Day. But we'll definitely do something. And then because right after that is our huge celebration for Hospital Week. We have and we are all hands in all hands on deck. I have my engagement champions for the first year that they'll be actually helping us facilitate, our engagement champions is made up of everyone in the organization. Every department is represented by day shift and night shift and they come up, they actually come up with what we do for hospital week. And so it's good to get there buy it because that way we know it's not just H.R., it's H.R. says that you want to do, no it's our people. So they enjoy that. They really do. So I'm getting off the beginning of the year, so but yeah, we'll be gearing up for that in May.

[00:27:59] And it'll be here before we know it, I don't know how it's February already to be like a month has already disappeared on us already. 

[00:28:08] So one of the things we want to ask all of our guests this year, Latecia we're going to ask you, is it and this will be great coming from you and H.R. and as a manager of H.R., but what does all in mean to you? What tell me what your version of an all in employee looks like. 

[00:28:30] I feel put on the spot. So for me, an all in employee is, first of all, an employee that has a sense of family and a sense of work ethic and somehow can combine those two. And what I mean by that is that we put so much time into our families and wanting the best for them and we go above and beyond it to make sure that those Christmas presents look just right or that their birthday is celebrated in a special way, but that all in employee brings that to work and they have the same level of respect for their work family, their family members that are here at work. So they have a positive attitude, they're at work on time. They do what they have to do when they're here. But not only that is that they extend that same love and kindness and gratitude to their work-family that they would extend to their personal family at home. 

[00:29:32] That is, well, that definition, I know for somebody not prepared to answer that question, you did awfully well, nailed it. Nailed it. 

[00:29:42] Yeah, well, that's a really good one. That's a real go, my friend. I'm so thrilled to have you here. Nelsa, you have any other questions for Latecia today? 

[00:29:51] I don't right now. When can I come visit? That's my question. Any time you like.

[00:30:00] You can't have their tshirt though, I got the shirt. 

[00:30:11] Well Latecia, thank you so much for joining us today and just giving us a little bit of insight to what you do and your program there. And I hope you'll give the team there the best warm wishes from myself. And I know I'll be seeing you guys soon. And Nelsa, we're back. 

[00:30:27] We're back. We're going to be I think you and I, we're cutting. We're cut. And we're at episode two tomorrow. 

[00:30:33] We're you know, we're knocking it out well, and maybe we'll touch on some hot topics. There's so many hot topics. 

[00:30:41] I mean, yes, I don't even know where to begin. 

[00:30:48] Yeah, exactly. So we'll bring hot topics back into the show and but we're excited. It is season two of the All In Employee podcast. And until we talk to you later. So long.

[00:31:08] Thank you for joining us on the CA Short All In Employee podcast. Scott and I will see you next time. 


Topics: Employee Engagement, Healthcare, Communication, Community Engagement, Culture of Engagement

R Scott Russell, CRP, CEP

About the Author
R Scott Russell, CRP, CEP

R Scott Russell is a video host, public speaker, and a sought-after thought leader in the world of employee engagement and recognition. At C.A. Short Company, he is responsible for producing engaging content, helping clients maximize the effectiveness of their programs, and providing ongoing training and education.

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