An engaged team can create a workplace culture that positively impacts the quality of care, and one way to drive engagement is for staff to be recognized and provided with support to make changes and improvements where they see fit. Fraser Health, acknowledging a need to foster high-performing, healthy teams, developed an Engagement Radicals Network. “E-Rads” are informal leaders who, in addition to their formal title, drive improvement and culture change off the sides of their desk. In particular, Surrey Memorial Hospital (SMH) has developed a team of highly-engaged E-Rads who have made enormous contributions to creating a vibrant culture.

The Surrey Memorial Hospital E-Rads
The Surrey Memorial Hospital E-Rads

The SMH E-Rads drive site-wide interventions that provide recognition, education and teambuilding. Examples include arranging presentations on diverse topics such as chronic pain and conflict resolution to build staff skills; participating in campaigns such as Change Day BC and Mental Health Week; and organizing a wellness fair. They also revitalized staff appreciation events, including a BBQ for day-shift staff and a pizza-and-karaoke event for night-shift staff, who had voiced their frustration with being left out of activities during regular hours.

The E-Rads team consists of a handful of SMH staff from different areas of practice, including a pharmacy technician, a forensic nurse, and a hospital librarian. Their lead is ShelleyLynn Gardner, the “CEO” or Creative Energy Organizer. ShelleyLynn spearheaded events such as “What Matters to You?” Day, for which the E-Rads granted patient wishes and even garnered front-page news attention when they arranged a visit between a long-term patient and his two horses. The team uses their diverse skills to design, organize and produce their events and activities.

In addition to their special, media attention-grabbing events, the E-Rads have introduced yoga sessions, Pilates and a walking group (among other initiatives) to boost wellness in the workplace. They also created a Pay It Forward program for staff to recognize one another’s great work. The range and quantity of events and programs exemplify their creative thinking, energy and dedication.

SMH E-Rads innovatively embrace the principles of engagement, intentionally widening the circle of involvement and creating a workplace culture of quality, innovation and fairness. Their efforts have made a positive impact on patients as well as staff, who feel recognized and appreciated. The E-Rads are shining examples of culture trailblazers, and proof that no matter what your job title is, you can be an inspiring leader.