By: Kathy Driscoll, RN, CCM 

Lately, wherever we turn our attention, we seem to hear or read about Covid's impacts on people's overall well-being, the economy, political environment, and the list goes on. This worldwide pandemic has truly challenged us as individuals and society in many ways, evolving societal priorities and calling for rapid innovation across various sectors, along with new realizations regarding key focus areas as we work to bounce back.

Of particular interest to me is the role of a supportive work environment in navigating challenging times and thriving despite adversity. Over the past year and a half, the preventative measures against covid-19, such as social distancing, self-isolation, minimized contact with people outside of the household, have surfaced the realization of how just critical our connections to people truly are. Since we spend an average of 1/3 of our life at work, having a caring and supportive work environment is essential to our human need to feel connected, and it will be critical in dealing with this crisis.


A few months back, I wrote a piece for CMSA Today about creating connected professional communities of practice at work and how this benefits the people and the organization.  You can read the full article at your convenience, but below are a few points that I want to draw your attention.

Create a work environment where people can connect through a common purpose and feel supported in their well-being.

When people feel cared for and supported in their well-being, have the resources to network, learn and develop new skills, they feel connected to and proud of the organization they work for. This in turn helps with engagement and retention- key to a thriving organization. When we created the community of practice at my organization, specifically for our clinicians, this very intentional focus on purpose-driven initiatives helped to uplift employees and contribute to improving their quality of life.

Offer opportunities for your employees to share their concerns, ideas, and suggestions.

We know that employees will share what's on their minds – the good and the bad. But for this to happen continuously, you must build trust and show that you are indeed listening and that employee feedback is not going by the wayside. You indeed need to walk the talk. So, making sure that your communications strategy incorporates your employees' input and creates continuous opportunities for them to have a voice at the table and that their input is factored into decision-making. Ensuring a full communication loop builds trust and confidence in employees. When your people know what to expect, they will continue to engage in this feedback loop.

Make meaningful recognition and appreciation part of your strategy.

No appreciation is too small, and it comes in various forms. Whether it is a simple 'thank you' for a prestigious award or recognizing your employees through development opportunities inside and outside of the organization – your employees must feel valued for their expertise and have ample opportunities to be recognized by their peers and leadership. 

We have a great opportunity as leaders and influencers within our respective organizations to think about the human experience and, in an intentional and integrated fashion, create a thriving environment for our employees as we evolve our organizations. Covid-19 has certainly brought about many challenges, but the actions we take now will help define our future. Are we up to the challenge?

Kathy's biography:

Kathy Driscoll is a senior vice president, chief nursing officer, Humana. In her role as chief nursing officer, Kathy oversees Humana’s strategy of improving the experience of Humana’s community of nearly ten thousand nurses, care managers, and social workers, and promoting a culture that engages, values, and inspires clinical professionals while impacting health outcomes. Focus areas include clinical quality and innovation, clinician growth and development, and clinician engagement and recognition. She also leads initiatives to support the health and well-being of Humana’s clinical communities leveraging partnerships across the Humana enterprise as well as external partnerships such as the ANA Healthy Nurse Healthy Nation initiative and the IHI Joy in Work Collaborative.

Kathy is a registered nurse, licensed in New York, New Jersey, Florida, and Connecticut. She is a board-certified case manager and a member of Sigma Theta Tau, Chi Phi Chapter. Kathy is a member of the board of directors for SeniorBridge, as well as serving on the board of trustees for the American Nurses Foundation. She is a current member of The American Nurses Association, The Case Management Society of America, The American Organization of Nurse Leaders, and The American Association of Managed Care Nurses.


How do you show appreciation to your employees and coworkers?