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Engaged Leadership

Listen to the March 2016 Webinar with Kaiser Permanente's Kathy Gerwig, "THRIVE: Setting BOLD Environmental Goals with Kaiser Permanente"

January 2016 marks the refresh of the Healthier Hospitals Engaged Leadership Challenge. Review the details and access guidance documents in the Resources section. Based on feedback, the refreshed challenge offers step by step guidance on how to build a case for formal sustainability programming at your hospital or health system. The guidance includes support on how to identify internal champions, finding success stories, building a team and using a template to make a formal presentation. A "Get Started" Guide on Starting a Sustainability Internship program can help focus on specific projects. Practice Greenhealth members have access to further support through Levels three, four and five, which are under development and will be rolled out in the first quarter of 2016 - Stay tuned!

Employee Engagement

A 2015 study by Health eCareers found that nearly one-third of U.S. health care recruiters rank employee turnover as their greatest staffing concern and say hiring the best health care employees is only half the battle—once you have them, you need to keep them.

More and more, prospective employees are seeking job opportunities in organizations which reflect and align with their own in regard to environmental stewardship. According to a 2014 survey by Pew Research Center, 80 percent of Millennials (born after 1980) want to work for companies that care about its impacts.

The members-only employee engagement toolkit, “Sustainability and Employee Engagement – A Winning Strategy” offers valuable resources to help your team increase engagement and take sustainability to the next level.

Understand why it’s important to engage workers. Learn how University Hospitals Health System, Cleveland Clinic, Inova Health and Advocate Health care and other systems are engaging staff and taking their sustainability programming to the next level. Download the white paper, PowerPoint with script, 12 case studies and poster to help your facility further its sustainability success through employee engagement.

Experience two Practice Greenhealth educational events:

View these recorded events with human resources and your marketing team to maximize employee engagement and communication through healthier environments.

RECORDED SIGNATURE SERIES WEB EVENT: From September 9, 2015
Employee Engagement and Sustainability – Connecting the Dots

RECORDED WEBINAR: From September 2, 2015
Leading Change by Changing the Way You Lead

Leadership & Infrastructure

Health care has a mission-related responsibility to support efforts that protect the health of patients, employees and the larger community in which they operate. Health care’s operational impacts on human and environmental health often contradict this responsibility. Detrimental impacts result from inefficiencies in areas such as design and construction, purchasing, energy and water consumption, waste generation, chemical use and transportation.The negative human and environmental impacts caused by these activities warrants change. Shifting health care’s design, construction and operational practices to manifest the principle of “first do no harm” can be the key to saving money, reducing waste and toxicity as well as meeting the needs of patients and the community, and providing a safe and respectful work environment. With the growing body of evidence linking climate change, waste, chemicals and energy usage to public health, health care has the opportunity to establish a leadership role in addressing these issues, while also enhancing organizational effectiveness and protecting financial resources.

Leadership involvement in sustainability efforts is the difference between having an “initiative” and becoming a top performer in environmental stewardship. Practice Greenhealth has repeatedly found that the most successful health care sustainability programs have significant support from healthcare leadership. In 2010, 83 percent of Practice Greenhealth award winners had representation from senior leadership on their green teams. Top-performing Practice Greenhealth award winners demonstrate increased cost savings and improved environmental outcomes versus mid-level performers.

Corporate Social Responsibility and Sustainability

Over the past ten years, there has been a dramatic shift in the corporate landscape—with corporate social responsibility (and environmental sustainability as a subset) rising to the top as a competitive strategy. According to the Harvard Business Review, a recent IBM survey found that two-thirds of executives see sustainability as a revenue driver, and half of them expect green initiatives to confer competitive advantage[i].

In the health care sector, a growing recognition that sustainability is inextricably linked to human health has motivated many healthcare organizations to begin integrating sustainability into organizational strategy. Recognizing the risk of not addressing sustainability is not the same as having the capacity to respond—as we have seen so clearly in the battle against healthcare-associated infections (HAIs). Hospitals have quickly learned that sustainability doesn’t integrate itself and that it extends far beyond having recycling containers in the waiting areas—touching many if not every department in the hospital.

Health care executives are also finding that environmental stewardship can mean long-term savings for the bottom line. Hospital after hospital has found that these programs can derive significant financial value for the organization—from reducing waste disposal and energy costs to improving operational efficiency to driving employee engagement to even anecdotally assisting in the recruitment and retention of health care staff. Many healthcare organizations are in the process of determining the operational and reporting strategies necessary to build these programs into the fabric of the organization—rather than building them on, piecemeal.

An Emerging Framework for Integrating Sustainability

Practice Greenhealth has been working with healthcare facilities for more than a decade to develop site-specific sustainability programs and goals. In collaboration with hospital and health system members, Practice Greenhealth has identified a common set of factors that can significantly aid in sustainability progress—and with it, the desired culture change, community relations and bottom line savings. The framework is not necessarily prescriptive—different hospitals may take steps in a different order or prioritize some activities above others depending on financial or site-specific factors. Yet a combination of the following steps can play a key role in enabling a healthcare organization to build a successful sustainability program. There may also be an opportunity to pull together various initiatives and departments under the corporate social responsibility umbrella.

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[i] Unruh, G. and Ettenson, R. Growing Green: Three Smart Paths to Developing Sustainable Products. Harvard Business Review. June 2010.

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