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WorkProud® CEO, Michael Levy, Interviews Mary Cataudella of Jersey City Medical Center

As the world slowly but surely exits the worst parts of COVID-19, is employee recognition going to be more important in the healthcare industry?

Join WorkProud’s CEO, Michael Levy, and Mary Cataudella, Chief HR Officer at Jersey City Medical Center, as they discuss the importance of both monetary and non-monetary recognition in an increasingly post-COVID world.

Watch the full interview below.

Michael Levy:

So, hi, Mary. Thank you very much for being available today. Spend a few minutes to share some of your knowledge, skill, and expertise with our guests. Why don’t you first give us a little bit of background on who you are and who you’re working for, RWJ, sort of the role, things that are happening there that you’d like to share with the group so there’s some context on some of your observations and comments.

Mary Cataudella:

Okay.

Mary Cataudella:

So thank you for having me. My name is Mary Cataudella. I’m the Chief Human Resource Officer at Jersey City Medical Center, one of the many hospitals of part of Robert Wood Johnson, Barnabas Health, one the largest healthcare systems in the state of New Jersey. I’ve been here for 13 years and a strong advocate for employees and employee safety and patients.

Michael Levy:

Great. Well, thanks Mary, for joining and sharing. So wanted to pick your brains a little bit on contextually, we’ve just coming out of the worst parts of COVID. I think I know you guys were certainly at the cold front of that, and if you wish to share any of the stories, feel free to. But the question I wanted to pose to you is, given that we’re sort of coming out of the worst of it, do you think recognition is now going to be more important or less important, the same in lieu of the intensity by which particularly people in the healthcare industry have experienced their professional life in the last 12 months?

Mary Cataudella:

I believe recognition is ever more important during COVID and now post-COVID. People, it’s a way to stay connected. And during COVID, people worked in teams, but were isolated, whether it be with our physical PPE and restrictions from being close to one another, or restrictions from touching one another.

Mary Cataudella:

So it’s ever so important that the recognitions and the recognitions that our employees may see from the Recognizing You program were critical. It allowed us to stay connected. It allowed us to recognize when someone did something that was important or different or impacted one of our patients’ safety behaviors. Or one of our employee safety behaviors or the engagement that we thrive upon in healthcare. So very, very critical, particularly coming out of COVID.

Michael Levy:

Right. So in your program, you have a combination of non-monetary recognition and monetary recognition. Why don’t you comment on the delta between those, the value of each or any observations on having a program that allows for both the non-monetary and the monetary aspects?

Mary Cataudella:

Right. So our managers and those managers who have direct reports can give monetary recognition. And that’s great because then employees go online and become even more engaged and order their gift cards or their prizes, and then tell their coworkers. And this really generates an excitement for the program and an excitement to be recognized and to stand up and be counted. And how you stand up and be counted is by doing extraordinary things or being the great caretaker you are.

Mary Cataudella:

The majority of the employees don’t have points, but a thumbs up or a great job, or a happy anniversary, or so good you’re part of the system means a lot and goes a long way because we have a very good response rate for our employees who participate. And most recently I’ve requested from the company to give me a report on the prizes that employees have requested. And there are pages and pages on a spreadsheet of prizes. So the employees are engaged. They are looking forward to it. They’re giving thumbs up to their coworkers.

Michael Levy:

Right. I also think there’s an interesting data point for managers, department managers, or physicians or whoever are, are they equipped with the budgets to see some of the non-monetary recognitions? Because they can obviously go in over the top when they were not directly involved in whatever the behavior was. Do you get any feedback from managers sort of saying that helps them with their job and the ability to do good recognition?

Mary Cataudella:

Oh, absolutely. We used to have a formal program, which was an employee of the month. And that was great, but it was one employee per month. And all the managers would go to that department and recognize the employee on that one day, one month.

Mary Cataudella:

This, the managers tell me is a great way cause they can scan every Wednesday, every Monday and Friday. And they’ll look at who was recognized, get a notification and be able to in real time, give kudos to another employee, whether it be your own department, whether it be one of our other facilities across the system, because we’re all connected. It’s an excellent opportunity. What’s also great about this is Jersey City Medical Center, Robert Wood Johnson, Barnabas Health is on a HRO journey. It’s our goal to become a high reliability organization to decrease the number of serious safety events that occur.

Mary Cataudella:

Every year, thousands upon thousands of patients are injured at the hands of healthcare workers by mistakes or errors, et cetera. And it’s not just Robert Wood Johnson, it’s across the country. So we engage in a morning safety huddle, seven days a week, 365 days a year. All of our employees attend a four hour training on safety and thereafter, annually. We wear on our ID badges reminders of safety behaviors to engage in.

Mary Cataudella:

What this program has done is encouraged each and every one of us to recognize when we’re using those safety behaviors, we’re engaged in the safety lingo and reinforcing everything we want for our employees to do, to protect our patients. The result of this has been multifold, the quality of our patient care is increased. And the engagement of our employees for being able to know I’m doing a great job and I’m being noticed and the patients and the quality scores are showing that I’m doing a great, safe job.

Michael Levy:

All right. That’s fantastic to hear. So in a healthcare context, the connect between recognition at the staff level translates to outcomes influencing safety. We won’t say it’s a preventative, but influencing the perception of safety. And I think very importantly, the patient experiences, that’s going to become, now that we’re passed the worst of COVID, an important agenda item.

Michael Levy:

How about internally a final question and comment again, thanking you for your time today. The ability to get at established usability, encouraging use of the program by both employees and managers at a health care, are there any sort of tips or suggestions? I know that your facilities, as pretty good strong user of the tools, any tips or suggestions to other in healthcare who may be struggling with the questions of, can I get leadership interested in this and then utilizing it in the spirit and intent by which you and I have?

Mary Cataudella:

Well, it definitely starts from the top down. And every Monday I produce a report to my President and CEO, and we sit around the table with the other senior leadership. And he looks at the results of who at the executive table, who gave recognitions, how many recognitions, who received recognitions. And that’s something that we all go right down the line looking forward. So who Director of Radiology was outstanding this week? And that’s a great recognition. What did you pinpoint? What was the lesson learned? How do we share that?

Mary Cataudella:

So it really stems from the top down. And the great recognition is one that’s very specific. “That was really great the way you stayed after your shift to come back and talk to that patient.” You know, “Thank you Mr. EMT for giving that grieving spouse some handouts from the local bereavement group that he or she can use.” Just recognizing those behaviors. People want to feel valued. They want to know at the end of the day, they’ve done a good job, that they feel competent. This is one of the ways in which this really helps. And they showed off to their friends and families. You know, “I’ve 20 likes today on the great job I did in the field.”

Michael Levy:

All right. All right. Well, Mary, thank you very much for taking some time. Appreciate you sharing that with us. And of course, on behalf of the population, I appreciate you and your heroes at the facility for everything you guys have done in the last year and continue to do looking after us all.

Mary Cataudella:

Thank you. It’s a great program. We’re going to continue using it.

Michael Levy:

All right. All the best, Mary.

RWJBarnabas Health is New Jersey’s largest integrated health care delivery system, providing treatment and services to more than three million patients each year. Throughout RWJBarnabas Health, our dedicated physicians, nurses, and health professionals are committed to providing the highest quality of patient care and health education to the community and region.

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