My VCH survey highlights and what’s next

Last month I asked you to take part in the My VCH survey, posing the question “What if…?”

The purpose was to hear from you about your experiences working at VCH, so we can decide what needs to be done to create our new future. Ultimately, the survey was designed to assess the overall “health” of our organization, and determine the impact of that on our culture and performance.

When the My VCH survey closed on October 6, I was inspired to see over 11,000 of you took the time to complete it and share your thoughts. That number represents 63 percent of staff and physicians from across our region and I want to thank you for sharing your views.

What we heard from you

The survey results echo what many of you shared with me first hand during the survey window—namely that too many of you are frustrated with the system and feel undervalued. Seeing this collective experience in our survey results has affected me deeply; I appreciate that this is not the organization we aspire to be.

We have a long way to go in becoming a healthy organization—one where employees feel that their voice matters and they can be both a participant in and a driver of positive change. That said, we now know where we stand and we have clear information on which we can act and improve.

After reflecting on the survey results and my experiences with VCH over the years, I’d like to share what I have come to believe about our organization:

  • VCH delivers high quality care and consistently achieves positive outcomes for our patients and clients because we have exceptional people who believe in our mission. You have consistently told us that you take deep satisfaction from and are motivated by caring for our patients and clients, and working as a team.
  • You see potential to unlock tremendous positive energy at VCH, but our vision for the future is not clear to all of our staff and physicians. In fact, only half of you believe that our vision for the future is easy to understand and meaningful. Less than half of you believe we have translated it into specific strategic goals and milestones.
  • You feel a lack of transparency and involvement in everything from setting direction for day-to-day operations and sharing knowledge across the organization. No more than a third of you feel actively involved in setting our direction, think that how we perform is shared in a transparent and motivating way, or believe we have ways for employees to contribute improvement ideas.
  • Decision making is difficult, slow and viewed as bureaucratic. We debate endless reasons why NOT to do something new, making it difficult to drive change. Less than half of you see our leaders creating a sense of teamwork and mutual support and challenging all of us to do more than we think possible. Only a third of you believe management encourages different parts of VCH to work together to improve.
  • Leaders are overwhelmed by too many priorities and need support if they are to invest more time engaging front line staff, which would allow them to be more inspirational, trustworthy and transparent. Two thirds of you believe that we, as leaders, are not talking about values that are meaningful to you, providing thanks and recognition to you, or making your work meaningful. Only 20% of you believe that we reward outstanding contributions of employees.
  • Innovation is part of VCH’s identity, yet opportunities to act on innovation aren’t effective in the eyes of the majority of our employees. You don’t feel your ideas are heard or implemented, or that you are given space to be creative or entrepreneurial. Not even half of you believe that VCH is effectively adapting to the external environment. Less than a third of you see senior leaders devoting sufficient time to doing things differently. And, only a small minority of employees participate in improvement activities.

Learn more at staff forums

The survey has given us a lot of data and comments to analyze, much of which are more easily shared face to face. With that in mind, I encourage you to take part in one of the following upcoming staff forums—either in person or by webcast—so I can share more details about the results and how we intend to move forward.

The forums will be consistent across VCH, so plan to attend the forum that best works for your schedule and where you work or live:

For those of you who can’t attend, all information shared at the forums will be available on the My VCH website starting November 22: We will also be reaching out to ask how you’d like to share your ideas and participate as we move forward.

What’s next?

While we don’t yet know where this journey will take us, I am optimistic about our future. The survey has given us insight into which problems we need to address and our next step is to work with you in a new way to solve them collaboratively. I believe we are on our way, together, to strengthening our organization and making VCH a better place to work.

We need to make changes so you feel valued and that your voice matters. We want VCH to work better, so we can serve better.  It’s the right thing to do—for us, and for our patients. This is what “My VCH” is all about.

Mary Ackenhusen
President and CEO



  1. As a 27 year employee at LGH, I am saddened that my voice wasn’t represented because pharmacists were transferred to another region (FH) a few years ago. I have seen tremendous change over the years, and feel that regional continues to push programs and changes without considering the massive change that is already occurring at LGH because of Cerner. Because we are going live first, these rollouts that are happening for us are slowing down our processes, and it is not possible to keep up with increased workload and demand, and continued regional process/policy changes. Please keep policy changes/procedural change to a minimum while we are in transition.

    1. Mary Ackenhusen says:

      Thank you Joanne for giving us your input. I realize that we should have included LM employees on our sites in the survey as you are part of the team! But, we do want to hear your voice now and going forward. I agree we must be very attentive to minimizing pressures on LGH during this critical time as the success of LGH go-live is important for all of us!

      Take care, Mary

  2. Nicole says:

    I think that VCH needs to reconsider the use of the Attendance Wellness Program. The constant meetings for those who are “above” average in sick hours creates more stress for the Nurse who is encountering them and increase stress for those around. In this increase stress of what the outcome of these meeting are, staff members continually come to work sick. Yes, giving you a positive outcome for your “numbers,” but at what cost? This program, incidentally encourage’s staff to come to work sick. From every aspect of job title, I would hope that all VCH employees, although may struggle with work life balance, are aware of it and are educated to learn. I would also expected that all VCH employees can recognize when a sick call is necessary, no matter how often. Why has VCH set a standard among all disciplines across VCH to create this “average.” As a Peri-Operative RN, I work long hours, which are stressful, fast pace and in a high acuity job. Those are they factors that are in all Nursing areas. Those 4 characteristics of our job increase our bodies systemic vulnerability to sickness, no matter what balance we have created in our lives. Foremost, mental illness has become increasingly more prevalent, and should be honoured with in our “sick” guideline. But all sickness shouldn’t be called out in a meeting to be discussed, it’s private. So my question is why is VCH creating an ‘average’ among different disciplines and qualifying that as the average. Just like my patients who have the exact same diagnosis, I never treat each one of them as the same or with in an average. Each one of them responds to surgery, care, and disease in different ways, and I respect every aspect of their journey. So why is VCH treating each and every one of the individuals working for them as an average? This program is no longer helpful, it’s creating an unhealthy work place. These meetings are unnecessary and respect should be given those that know how to take care of themselves, not a meeting to call them out.

    1. Mary Ackenhusen, CEO says:

      Hi Nicole,

      Thank you for sharing your thoughts, Nicole. You are not alone in feeling this way, and we have decided to pause the Attendance & Wellness Promotion program based on the feedback we’ve heard. We’ll be engaging staff and leaders in the new year to revamp the program with a stronger focus on health and wellness. You can read more about how we’re acting on your feedback:

      take care, Mary

  3. Rudy Young says:

    Thank you for presenting the results in such an open and transparent manner.

    Your honesty in how the results have been shared is a strong signal of your integrity and commitment to making this a more vibrant organization.

    1. Mary Ackenhusen says:

      Thank you Rudy for taking this journey with me – I’m energized to know how much people care about VCH and this keeps me moving forward to make it a better place.


  4. Rosemary Smith says:

    I too echo appreciation for you and for presenting the results in an open and transparent manner. I also value the curiosity it took to ask our about experiences. And this leaves me with hope for a more cohesive workplace that emodies “everyone matters”. As a 25+ year employee, I am delighted to continue to be a part of this movement towards inclusion and collaboration.

    1. Mary Ackenhusen says:

      Hi Rosemary

      Thank you for still retaining the passion even after 25 years. We will and can do MUCH better – and I can’t wait until it starts to feel different as we turn this big ship of an organization.

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