Creating a Culture of Patient-Centered Excellence

Ecumen is one of the largest providers of long-term care and related services for aging populations. The organization owns and manages over 70 facilities nationwide.

 

The organization has a long-standing reputation for its excellence for the care and caring of their patients. The central focus of Ecumen had always been its patients, sometimes at the expense of its financial results. Operating in a more stable industry environment and with its non-profit status, Ecumen was able to overcome any slack in its financial performance. The significant and continual pressures on health care funding placed a special burden on Ecumen’s patient-centered ethos – “the Ecumen Way.”

 

The challenge facing senior leadership was to re-orient the culture to embrace a balance between finding innovations that address the mounting funding pressures while not sacrificing the patient-centered ethos that energizes the culture. Ecumen’s executive team was committed to leading the organization through the necessary change to address the continued pressure on health care funding while not eroding “the Ecumen way” – the heart of their culture. The challenges facing the leadership team was to engage employees in being a part of the change process and reengineer the way Ecumen operated to be ready for the constant change that was sure to be the norm in the health care industry for the foreseeable future.

 

Change was not new to Ecumen, over its 150-year history it had consistently taken on the challenges it faced.   The culture known as “the Ecumen Way” stepped up to meet the challenges. The leadership team wanted to leverage the spirit of “the Ecumen Way” to energize the culture to take on the stiff headwinds now facing the organization.   Using “the Ecumen Way” as a framework for driving change required that it be updated and clearly defined.

 

The Ecumen leadership team retained Brand Tool Box to use its internal brand-building process to align employees with “the Ecumen Way” and focus their efforts on meeting the new realities of delivering long-term care. The resulting change management framework was and continues to be implemented across all its facilities.

Define the “Ecumen Way” to Align and Inspire Employees

Brand Tool Box retooled its internal brand-building process focusing on developing a network of internal brand leaders to launch and sustain the overall change management initiative. In a nutshell the customized process contained the following steps:

  1. Brand (“The Ecumen Way”) Platform Development. Brand Tool Box translated the new leadership platform into an inspiring and practical set of organizational development principles, known as “the Ecumen Way.”
  2. Engage Senior Leadership Team. The senior leadership team at Ecumen participated in a Brand Tool Box Brand Alignment Workshop.
  3. Certify “Ecumen Way” Trainers. A group of 12 facility managers, HR professionals and other leaders were certified to deliver Brand Tool Box Brand Alignment Workshops.
  4. Engage a Cadre of “Ecumen Way” Champions. A group of 100 site managers participated in customized Brand Tool Box Brand Alignment Workshops. During the workshops, the managers in small groups, collaborated using action-learning exercises to define specific behaviors for each facility and team in the context of the newly defined “Ecumen Way” that would guide the necessary changes at each facility.
  5. Align and Inspire All Employees. A team of the certified trainers visited each facility over a period of 18 months to conduct a Brand Tool Box Brand Alignment Workshop, ultimately engaging all 3,500 employees.

Complete Alignment = Organizational Success

Following the implementation of the entire program Ecumen has enjoyed the following benefits:

  • The entire organization is fully aligned around “the Ecumen Way” evidenced by the emergence of a common language and new performance standards supporting the new organizational development standards. Moreover employees speak with pride and defend “the Ecumen Way” as they work in teams.
  • Employee engagement scores show consistent year-over-year improvement.
  • Ecumen is consistently awarded “Best Employer” status.
  • Industry-leading annual revenue increases, despite decreased government funding sources. Operating margins demonstrate year-over-year improvement.
  • Ecumen has added a number of related for-profit services to provide substantial funding sources to support their traditional non-profit long-term services.
  • “The Ecumen Way” is fully integrated into the employee recruiting and on-boarding process ensuring that the culture is continually reinforced with supporting behaviors and attitudes.
  • Ecumen has emerged as an industry leader and its senior executives are routinely sought after as thought leaders in managing long-term care facilities.

Ecumen’s senior management team is confident in their culture’s ability to address future changes that are sure to confront their organization.

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