Meaningful work in Occupational Medicine: A strategic approach to moving staff beyond technical work

Stephanie Murdock, RN, MSN, MBA, COHM
Vice President OccMed & Employee Health, Sanford Health

Over the years working in the occupational health space, we have worked to make our practice more efficient and have seen our client satisfaction scores improve.

Companies value simple, convenient, and efficient services.  

In that same time, we have seen a trend in employee satisfaction and their connection to meaningful work inversely shift.   

The hamster wheel of DOT exams and drug tests was taking its toll and staff were feeling less connected to the value those services meant to the patients and companies we serve.  

As intentional as we had become to what our clients valued, the same careful intention was needed to meet what our teams needed to find meaning in their roles in maintaining the health and safety of the workforces we care for.  

With the well-being of employees and organizations at stake, fostering a workplace where professionals find profound meaning in their roles is paramount to meeting the program’s mission.  

We set a five-point strategy to engage teams and improve perceptions about meaningful work. 

1. Build a Collaborative Culture:

In regular team meetings, our teams save space for open communication and sharing of patient success stories to not only enhance the effectiveness of the practice but also a shared sense of purpose among staff members.

>>Master the art of patient service excellence meet with Dr. Earl here about the patient experience and customer service teamwork

2. Invest in Professional Development:

In addition to required certifications and training, we invested in memberships to professional organizations for tenured nursing and therapy staff specializing in occupational health practice. This investment not only improves the team’s skills but also instills a sense of accomplishment and dedication to the practice’s mission of ensuring a healthy and safe work environment.

3. Recognize and Reward Safety Champions:

Acknowledging the commitment to workplace safety is vital in occupational health. We have a weekly digital SAFE huddle board that recognizes a variety of health and safety recognitions that occur throughout the week, helping a patient or company, a good catch, or an idea towards improvement.  This global recognition helps to remind teams that all things matter, big or small.

4. Align service with value:

Each month, we focus on one service and move it beyond the technical components. For example, rather than only renewing competencies for drug testing collection or accuracy in completing a chain of custody form, we add information related to the importance of workplace drug testing and cite examples of safety hazards in the absence of such a program.

>>Example of Importance of Workplace Drug Testing

5. Provide Emotional Support for workplace challenges:

Each monthly staff newsletter lists established support systems, such as counseling services or peer support programs to help employees navigate any emotional challenges of their work, fostering resilience and a stronger sense of purpose.

>>See our webinar on “Beyond EAP – Address Mental Health”

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