March 6th, 2006

Great River Health Systems has been named a winner of the American Psychological Association’s 2006 National Psychologically Healthy Workplace Award.

The health system was named the winner in the not-for-profit category. Great River Health Systems’ approach to creating a positive work environment is based on its customer service philosophy of EXCEL, which is described as “being Enthusiastically friendly, X-ceeding expectations, showing Care and compassion, displaying Energetic teamwork, and through Leadership and professionalism.”

The award is given to organizations that implement a comprehensive array of workplace practices that foster employee health and well-being while enhancing organizational performance. Nominees were evaluated in the areas of employee involvement; health and safety; employee growth and development; work-life balance; and employee recognition, all components of a psychologically healthy workplace.

Great River Health Systems encourages employee involvement through a number of activities, including regular meetings of a cross-departmental task force to discuss employee concerns and community outreach such as painting houses for low-income community residents.

Great River Health Systems’ Health Fitness Program encourages employee health and safety with a multitude of programs and resources, including free access to fitness and aquatics centers, ongoing exercise and nutrition counseling, an annual health risk appraisal and strong preventive health benefits that support self-care and the development of a healthy lifestyle.

Education and training are an integral part of life at Great River Health Systems, with an extensive catalog of offerings that includes continuing professional education for clinical staff, leadership and customer service training, adult literacy courses and health-care career seminars. Department budgets include funding for staff to attend conferences and offsite trainings, and Great River Health Systems maintains ongoing educational loan, scholarship and tuition-assistance programs for employees and their families.

Great River Health Systems encourages work-life balance with programs ranging from adoption assistance, sick child care in the Pediatrics Unit and a lactation room for nursing mothers to discounted homeowner’s and auto insurance, interest-free loans to help with the purchase of a personal computer, and onsite shipping and laundry services.

Great River Health Systems’ employee recognition efforts range from formal programs such as the EXCEL Employee of the Year to “You Make a Difference” cards, which employees can use to spontaneously congratulate and thank their coworkers. Another coveted honor is the Service Hero of the Month. This award for performing an exceptional act comes with accolades including paid time off and logo-wear clothing.

“Great River Health Systems is a very customer-service driven organization, and we strongly believe that having highly satisfied customers begins with having highly satisfied employees,” said Mark Richardson, Great River Health Systems President and CEO. “Receiving the National Psychologically Healthy Workplace Award is truly a confirmation of the many programs and services we have implemented over the years to address job-related satisfaction for our employees. We’re very honored to receive this recognition.”

The organization’s efforts have paid off. In recent years, Great River Health Systems has seen dramatic increases in patient satisfaction with the quality of care and services they received. Great River Health Systems reported a turnover rate of just 12.8 percent in 2004, compared to an average of 18 percent for hospitals in Iowa and 17 percent nationally. Additionally, the organization says that productivity is up, health insurance claims are down and accidents at Great River Health Systems fall below industry average in terms of frequency and severity.

“In today’s challenging business environment, organizations are looking for the competitive advantage that will give them an edge in the marketplace and help them exceed their customers’ expectations,” said Russ Newman, Ph.D., J.D., American Psychological Association’s Executive Director for Professional Practice. “Great River Health Systems can point to the reports of both its employees and its customers as evidence that employee health and well-being and organizational performance are inextricably linked.”

More information about the National Psychologically Healthy Workplace winners and Best Practices Honorees is available at Companies interested in learning more about creating a psychologically healthy workplace or applying for an award in their state, province or territory, can visit

The American Psychological Association, in Washington, D.C., is the largest scientific and professional organization representing psychology in the United States and is the world's largest association of psychologists. The association’s membership includes more than 150,000 researchers, educators, clinicians, consultants and students. Through its divisions in 54 sub-fields of psychology and affiliations with 60 state, territorial and Canadian provincial associations, the American Psychological Association works to advance psychology as a science, as a profession and as a means of promoting health, education and human welfare.