Here we are, EMS Week 2021. The American College of Emergency Physicians has titled this year’s theme for National EMS Week 2021, “THIS IS EMS: Caring for Our Communities.” They go on to say, “This theme is particularly meaningful now, to remind people that every day we are still there to respond, support, and care for the needs of our communities.”
Wondering what you will get or do for your staff? When talking about showing appreciation, there are the tried-and-true ideas — pens, free hotdogs or pizza, gift cards. Things that, although are appreciated by staff, aren’t quite what they actually want. I understand reimbursement rates are not matching the costs of running a service — costs increase every year, salaries, equipment, ambulances, etc. But more expensive gifts aren’t the only option. Seeking to comprehend what your staff actually values is the first step.
What’s Important to Staff?
We can extrapolate from the American Ambulance Association’s turnover study what our employees would like by examining why people voluntarily leave and understanding what factors are most important to them.
The study shows why supervisors voluntarily leave their positions. Respondents were asked to rate the importance of each reason, rather than picking only one reason.
Almost 21% of respondents are dissatisfied with the pay, benefits, or their career paths. These are the people we can help. As managers, let’s engage with this demographic and make them a part of the solution.
Meaningful EMS Week Ideas
Managers can consider EMS Week ideas that are original, low-cost, and practical. Let’s do something different — let’s make fundamental changes to the service and involve our staff in the decision-making process. This is a no-cost alternative to tchotchkes and pizza. We can start off with a shared governance committee that helps us make decisions that staff will like since they are part of the process. Easy adjustments, like shift changes to maximize a home-work balance while maintaining your coverage for your community is a great option.
How about gifting an EMS Week career ladder so staff can become officers and trainers? Having a well-defined process so your staff can make progress at your organization will improve morale and increase satisfaction and retention. More involvement from the medical director and allowing staff to be a part of the decisions on the care they provide will help make us better clinicians and improve morale, and in turn, deliver better care to the community.
Community Involvement and Appreciation
Following the theme for this year of caring for our communities, let’s become more involved in the communities we serve — things like attending meetings, standbys at local sporting events, going to public gatherings (post pandemic of course).
Community-involvement can work both ways. Once our staff is engaged within their community, organizations within the community can help show they appreciate our staff. Free memberships to gyms would help morale if incentives or contests are behind it. Donations of equipment or discounts to local businesses are other options. All these things help show that we care about the staff we have, and they care about the community they serve.
Making our communities see what we do for them, asking for help, and getting our providers more involved is one of the best EMS Week gifts we could deliver!
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