Employee encouragement at Sanford, Good Samaritan Society

During a stressful time, adding bright spots like self-care bingo can help

Employee encouragement at Sanford, Good Samaritan Society

In a time when negativity surrounds us, finding sources of positivity and encouragement becomes important.

The coronavirus pandemic has presented challenges no one could’ve predicted, especially for health care workers.

“There is a connection with stress and your immune system. Right now, everybody is under an elevated amount of stress. Many people are under chronic stress,” said Sanford Health‘s director of employee experience, Debbie Dobson.

In an effort to provide its employees more resources for their overall well-being, Sanford Health and the Good Samaritan Society unveiled a new employee well-being website, including services from counseling sessions to yoga classes, all at no cost.

A number of clinics in the Sanford Health and Good Samaritan Society footprint also have incorporated daily ways to boost their employees.

“This is such an unusual time, with so much stress on our bodies. They’re in such an immune-compromised way right now,” Dobson said.

“We’re trying to find little bright spots for people.”


To help remote workers remain positive, Sanford Health created a 'self-care bingo game.'
Sanford Health created a 'self-care bingo game,' in order to provide positivity to remote workers, and give themselves kindness. (Photo by Sanford Health)

Self-care bingo

Dobson says one activity to provide encouragement for remote workers is a self-care bingo game.

She felt this “fun and lighthearted” game helped address some challenges of working remotely.

“It can feel especially isolating when people are working remotely. They’re already isolating from their friends and everything else they’re used to,” she said.

Dobson and her team have been finding ways to keep employees connected.

“Remote worker bingo is just one way we’ve done that,” she said. “We’ve also organized things like a ‘virtual coffee break.’ ”

‘Take what you need’ flyers

Those employees on the front lines can use a lot of support, says Sanford Health senior employee experience strategist Tiffany Garcia.

“We’re looking at those still working within the facilities and seeing COVID-19 patients. We’re recognizing that they need an extra surge of brightness in their day. They’re not only managing their own stress, but they’re managing the stress of the patients,” she said.

Kelly Carlson is the director of cancer services at Sanford Health. She submitted the idea of “take what you need” flyers.

“I was trying to think of something to lighten the collective mood of our team across cancer services, during the regular challenges of new responsibilities, asking staff to take days off, or retrain to a new area, and thought about putting the focus back on what you need.”

The flyers have strips with motivational words like “strength,” “courage” and “optimism” printed on the bottom. Staff can “take whatever word they need,” Garcia said.

“While there’s not magic in the piece of paper, there is magic in what that word represents and then thinking about how you can be very mindful of what that represents, and how you pass on that feeling to someone else.”

“It has been a fun, yet simple way to share the message that we need to continue to take care of each other and ourselves, in order to continue to deliver exceptional cancer care to patients every day,” said Carlson.

Other examples

While Dobson and Garcia have organized many efforts to encourage employees, they say the staff themselves have really looked out for each other.

Rachel Christopherson is an integrated health therapist at the 26th & Sycamore clinic in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

She’s submitted over twelve submissions to the well-being site. Her latest submission emphasizes the “healing power in laughter.”

“The 26th & Sycamore Clinic has bee organizing fun ways to keep morale and spirits high. We believe that there is a healing power in laughter, and we go to great lengths to find it,” she said.

“Laughter reduces stress, boosts our immune system, makes us more resistant to infection, and regulates our moods. It is important to encourage each other during difficult times, so we feel we are going in the right direction.”

Dobson says from TikToks to cheerleading, and even a virtual escape room, the workers’ creativity and positivity is shining.

But they’d like to see even more.

“We’re looking for the rest of the employees throughout the organization to do this as well. The only way we’re going to get through this pandemic is if we stick together,” Dobson said.

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Posted In Behavioral Health, COVID-19, Sioux Falls, Wellness