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How Prisma Health Embeds Employee Listening Into Workplace Culture

How Prisma Health Embeds Employee Listening Into Workplace Culture

Prisma Health is a leader in serving adult and pediatric patients throughout South Carolina. Founded in 2017 with the merger of Palmetto Health and the Greenville Health System, Prisma Health seeks to create a better state of health for South Carolinians as the state’s largest private, non-profit healthcare system, and second-largest private company.

Given the nexus between patient experience and employee experience, Prisma Health needs a comprehensive understanding of its people to help them thrive and to drive better patient outcomes. It was this desire to understand more about its team members that brought Prisma Health into partnership with Perceptyx in 2019. 


Listening for the Data

John Ware, HRIS and workforce analyst at Prisma Health, knows that any thorough understanding of an organization this size — nearly 29,000 team members, including 1,815 employed physicians — starts and ends with data. “We have used Perceptyx for our annual team member survey since the merger that created Prisma, and we’ve also dabbled with pulse surveys on occasion,” said Ware. “The platform is at its best when it helps us to compare information year over year a little bit more dynamically than its competitors can. We can also compare our data against the healthcare benchmark database that Perceptyx maintains.”

There’s a strong relationship between patient experience and team member engagement, one that Perceptyx has helped Ware and his team explore. “The studies are decisive on the link between team member experience and patient experience. We also compare these metrics with turnover, vacancy rates, and overtime to help our HR teams and leaders see where to focus development activities,” said Ware.


Getting Everyone Involved

To obtain the most accurate data possible, Prisma Health has worked to expand participation in its annual engagement survey. “Like many healthcare organizations during the pandemic, we saw a decrease in some of our scores and it’s helpful as we emerge from it to have a full picture of the state of employee engagement,” said Ware.

One way of boosting participation involved the designation of approximately 200 team members as Survey Ambassadors who were given access to the Perceptyx platform during survey administration. With this access, they could monitor response rates and encourage participation. They also received training about employee listening and were invited to additional sessions to learn more about engagement. The deployment of Survey Ambassadors helped embed the importance and ownership of listening further into the organization, moving from a solely HR-driven initiative to a strategic activity owned throughout the business.


“They became strategic partners in the work and took their roles seriously,” said Ware. “Of all the interventions we did, this one had the most effect on the response rate. Team members expect leaders to be champions of the survey. Having other peers also champion the process adds legitimacy to the survey. Obviously, there’s still growth we can experience with regard to maturing our listening strategy and listening to team members, and that’s part of our follow-up this year. But for the Survey Ambassadors, it was fun and competitive. They rolled with it and got our response rate to 85%, which was a big jump from the low 70s, where it had been last year.”

Prisma Health also implemented a raffle and prize process, which provided prizes for randomly selected team members. Ware believes that this inducement, far from causing team members to report unusually high scores, actually led to more neutral feedback because it involved a swath of the population not usually captured by the surveys — people who previously lacked a strong reason to respond. “The ‘contented middle,’ so to speak, is less incentivized to give feedback because they’re content with things as they are and may lack the motivation necessary to participate, whereas your engaged and discontented groups have much more reason to participate and give either positive or negative scores,” said Ware.

It’s Never Too Early to Start Listening

Another takeaway from Prisma Health’s most recent engagement survey was that messaging to team members has to start early and remain consistent in order to ensure that all listening-related activities happen as scheduled. Perceptyx’s support also helps Ware and his team stay on task. “I’m grateful that Perceptyx does a good job of helping us set a reasonable schedule, because left to my own devices, I would be hopelessly behind all the time with preparation,” said Ware.

Continuous listening, with more frequent pulsing and other channels for always-on listening, remains the state of listening maturity that Prisma Health hopes to reach. “We’ve had a lot of discussion about this,” said Ware. “In a world of infinite resources and possibilities, the best outcome for a listening strategy would be more frequent listening. However, an organization isn’t culturally ready for that more progressive form of listening until they’ve mastered the annual process. This remains on the roadmap for us, because it’s a best practice. We don’t want to start doing this and not be prepared to follow through. If you are listening more frequently and not acting on the feedback, it would have been better to not listen at all.”


Focused Action to Drive Improvement

In order to direct action to the right areas for improving team members’ engagement and patient outcomes, Prisma Health focuses on the top drivers of engagement. Over the last two years, a new focus area with a considerable impact on engagement has emerged: wellness.. Ware commented that “with regard to wellness questions, I’d never seen them be a driver of engagement before, but we had two wellness questions that were drivers of engagement for us this year.” Armed with this new insight, leaders have developed action plans for improving wellness throughout the organization.

Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) is another focus area for action. “Almost every area of the survey saw improvement last year. DEI questions saw double-digit improvements in team member perceptions. Our team has done a lot of work to focus on DEI in the past year, including educational outreach to leaders, and it is encouraging to see growth in this area.” 


The Power of the Platform and Partnership

Being empowered to answer specific business questions through the Perceptyx platform is what truly differentiates this listening partnership. “As a data geek, I really favor what Perceptyx offers with the platform because it allows me to slice, splice, and cut information very rapidly depending on what I've fed into the system,” said Ware. “So if I do get a question that I don't anticipate, it takes three minutes for me to run that assessment. I can analyze it very quickly off the existing platform. The automation that's provided in the platform itself for us to be able to run the demographic crosstabs is a huge value add.”

When asked to summarize his impressions of the partnership, John Ware emphasized that Perceptyx offers the best of both worlds: flexible, robust technology coupled with the deep domain expertise. “I value the partnership that Perceptyx offers in both facilitating the survey and helping us interpret it.”



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About Prisma Health

Founded: November 2017 via the merger of Palmetto Health and the Greenville Health System

Corporate Headquarters: Greenville, SC

Industry: Healthcare

Employees: 28,761 team members, including 1,815 physicians


Customer Success Snapshot

The Challenge:

  • Boost annual census survey participation 
  • Focus action on what matters most for improving employee engagement
  • Use survey data to better understand business outcomes and the employee experience

The Solution:

  • Used a Survey Ambassador program consisting of 200+ team members given additional training in employee listening to encourage participation
  • Identified the top drivers of engagement and focused actions on areas with the biggest impact 
  • Analyzed employee experience data to better understand the progress of leadership training, DEI, and other business priorities

The Outcomes:

  • Annual census survey participation increased from low 70s to 85%, elevating more voices and creating a more inclusive understanding of current strengths and opportunities in the team member experience
  • Data revealed that wellness was an emerging driver of engagement for employees, allowing leaders to focus post-survey action planning on improving wellness throughout the organization
  • Improved DEI scores demonstrated that Prisma Health's strategy for advancing DEI goals has made progress
  • Year-over-year survey score improvements indicated that Prisma Health is successfully emerging from the pandemic