Service Excellence Program: A Success for Hospital

Kimberly Horn

Recognition is a valuable tool when it comes to managing organizational change. By implementing recognition programs where co-workers and colleagues build each other up, a positive culture can result. Duke Raleigh Hospital had experienced a lot of change in a short period of time, but that didn’t stop the organization from making efforts to build up its most important assets: the people.

Cultural Change
“We wanted to recognize those on our staff who consistently promoted what we stand for as an organization,” explains Janet Holliday-Cashwell, Administrative Director of Employee Development. Duke Raleigh Hospital, part of Duke University Health System, is a 186-bed facility known for its state-of-the-art Cancer Center and comprehensive Ortho Services.  As in any hospital setting, recognizing employees and maintaining a culture of appreciation can be quite the undertaking.

Add to that recent leadership, vision, mission and values changes, and you have an organization where recognition can have a positive impact. As the hospital introduced its new vision for the future, it also aimed to create a new culture. “We wanted the culture to be warm, welcome, open and friendly,” says Janet. “It feels like family here.  New hires, employees who transfer to our hospital, our patients and their families can feel that bond.”

Duke Raleigh’s culture change has been largely been facilitated by the Champions of Service Excellence recognition program, introduced at the hospital in 2005. The formal recognition program, which is nomination-based, recognizes individuals who address all seven hospital values on a consistent basis through their work and care of patients. The Champions of Service Excellence award program is a very prestigious honor and only recognizes 1-2% of the hospital’s 1,200 employees and volunteers a year.

Duke Raleigh Hospital’s Values:


Champions of Service Excellence: A Program for Everyone
Anyone can nominate a staff member or volunteer for the Champions of Service Excellence award, including patients and hospital visitors, and likewise, anyone can win. “Directors and managers, nurses and volunteers have all won this award. It’s for everybody,” explains Janet. Recognition has now become a part of everyday life for all at Duke Raleigh Hospital since the Champions of Service Excellence award program along with several other recognition programs has been in place. Employees are more aware of recognition opportunities and recognize their peers more often. In fact, many of the Champions of Service Excellence nominations come from an employee’s colleague instead of their direct manager.

Champions of Service Excellence Award nominations are accepted through June before they are reviewed by the Rewards and Recognition Team. In the fall, Champions of Service Excellence award recipients are honored at a formal dinner with their manager and a guest.  At the Champions of Service Excellence formal dinner, members of the executive team share the nomination stories with the audience.  At a less formal Champions of Service Excellence unit celebration, the award recipient is honored by his/her co-workers and direct manager. It is at this celebration that the award recipient is given a Star Service lapel pin and poster to commemorate the achievement.

“The lapel pin has taken on a symbolic meaning around Duke Raleigh,” says Janet. Employees who have won the Champions of Service Excellence award are proud to wear their pin on their employee ID badge set. “The pin is simple, very attractive and professional, so people want to add it to their badge.”

The Results
Since employee recognition and culture has been a priority and the Champions of Service Excellence program implemented at Duke Raleigh Hospital, employee satisfaction scores have risen. Since 2005, employee recognition scores have risen 25.4%. “Recognition is definitely a part of it,” says Janet of the increase in employee satisfaction. She describes the program as being fun for everyone. “It’s really caught on. People get excited about it now. It opens up opportunities for employees to recognize and be grateful to one another.”

Duke Raleigh Hospital Employee Satisfaction Scores

  Year    Satisfaction 
  2005    50.0% 
  2006    61.5% 
  2007    71.1% 
  2008    75.4% 

The Champions of Service Excellence program has had many positive results for Duke Raleigh Hospital. Here are just a few:

    Improved employee satisfaction scores
    Enhanced culture
    Active employee participation in recognition programs
    Management support and enthusiasm
    Increased employee displays of corporate values  

The Champions of Service Excellence program is well planned by Duke Raleigh Hospital as the results attest. the Champions of Service Excellence program is tied directly to their vision, mission and values. As employees observe one another going above and beyond in their daily service, they experience the hospital’s values in action. Over time, more and more people are displaying the values in their daily work. This helps the hospital to achieve its vision and goals and provide new opportunities to all staff.


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