How do we keep the stars here at VCH?


Judy Parker | December 8th, 2015

On November 12, Employee Engagement staff gathered for their annual EE forum and this year’s theme EE Innovates, our adaptation of Dragons’ Den, showcased innovative ideas from star frontline employees.

One of those ideas was Retaining Stars: Keeping our employees from leaving VCH. Made up of Judy Parker, Katerina Iliakis and Delia Bortignon, the group pitched their idea to our team of dragons, suggesting VCH gather and assess relevant data including exit surveys and current research or conduct a new stay survey to determine what would trigger employees to seek employment elsewhere and what it would take to retain them. See their pitch (video) and Q&A with Judy Parker below.


Retaining Stars


VCH News: How did you come up with this idea? What was the inspiration?

Judy Parker: I came up with this idea/was inspired because I’ve often wondered why people start to look for another opportunity outside of the organization they are in. Turnover is very costly to an organization (including VCH) and organizations should do what they can to retain their employees. What was the trigger point that led them to think they have no choice but to seek employment elsewhere and what could have been done differently to not feel that way and retain them. I’ve seen colleagues leave VCH and I’ve been impacted by them leaving with an extra large workload and for some it’s been a great move and opportunity for advancement and for others they realize that the grass isn’t greener. I believe that a lot of employees would like to provide their thoughts and opinions but are sometimes afraid to and by having a stay survey it allows them to voice their opinions in a safe environment.

VCH News: What is your role at VCH?

Judy: My role is Recruitment Associate. I’ve been with VCH, in the same role, for seven years. There are nine associates and we work with four difference collective agreements, supporting the hiring process of internal and external staff from the posting of position to receiving and reviewing applications and processing successful applicants, preparing offer letters, ensuring onboarding is seamless (and everything else in between). We act as the central contact for questions and we triage inquires. We have a breathe of knowledge in regards to how other VCH teams work, and support new initiatives or changes within VCH.

VCH News: How will your idea help VCH achieve its True North goals and what’s in it for staff?

Judy: This is a pilot project idea to employees asking them to speak up so they can be heard. Ask them via a stay survey why they stay (what do they love, what are we doing well), why they would consider leaving and if they’ve thought of leaving what could we do to prevent them from leaving.  What ideas do employees have that are viable and sustainable to improve morale and engagement and make VCH the best place to work. By seeking the opinion of our employees and listening to what they say, we will attract and retain employees, develop the best workforce and retaining our employees, which ultimately is putting people first.

VCH News: What would you like to ask staff? How can they help implement your idea?

Judy: I’d like to ask staff if they would be interested in participating in a stay survey (we need their input) – if no, why not? What questions would they suggest we ask employees and lastly how would they prefer to get the survey (e-mail or paper-based).

Why do you stay at your job? Why would you go? Please post any comments and questions below!

About the Author

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Judy Parker

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7 comments on “How do we keep the stars here at VCH?

  • Yvonne says:

    Why just keep stars? How about trying to keep the average hardworking, dedicated, experienced, exemplary, front line staff employee? They are all stars in my opinion.

    I’m not gone, but I am not working any shifts lately. My concerns for my safety and well being were dismissed, minimized, and denied by those with control over my work schedule. I was blamed for needing a meal break during an 8 hour shift. I was told to take it at the beginning or end of the shift when there were no clients scheduled. Or I was told it was because I was inefficient and wasted time (how would the scheduler know this, is a mystery to me). I was screamed at down the phone one day by a supervisor for taking a pee break because the regular worker didn’t take a break at that time of day on that schedule.

    So, to protect myself, I had to stop being available for work in certain areas, and for 8 hour shifts because most of these shifts were filled with 10 hours of work, or didn’t allow for travel time, meaning I had to skip coffee breaks, meal breaks and work unpaid overtime (because I was so “neglectful” to not get that overtime pre-authorized by a manager on a weekend, evening shift). This is management playing head games and politics with staff. Yet, the managers are still there, they are rewarded with an increase in income every year. Somebody above them approves of their management style.

    Now, VCH announces that they are implementing a meal break policy and anti-fatigue policy, apparently for the well being of employees. Forgive me for being cynical. I have been trying for 6 years to get this problem addressed. Meal breaks and rest breaks are mandated by BC Labour Standards and by union agreements, there is no need for another layer of policy. But VCH wasn’t following the BC standards or union agreements, and those of us who spoke up, were bullied and pushed out, likely viewed as trouble-makers. Now VCH complains how difficult it is to hire and retain employees. With the kind of contempt and disrespect I experienced working for VCH, who would stay if they had another choice?

  • Marie says:

    Staff don’t leave companies, they leave managers.

  • Mike Gix says:

    I want to sincerely wish all VCH staff a very serene and enjoyable holiday season!

    I hope we can all feel good about the work we have done this year. I am very grateful to work within VCH, at my team, supporting the clients who use our service.

    This is the end of the feel-good section of my post. And now the feel-not-so-good section.

    I notice there are fewer “Best Wishes for the Holidays” emails in my VCH inbox this year. It is no secret, but perhaps not widely known, that four Vancouver Community teams (VAMHI, SAFER, AHBT, & MHES) are being dissolved. Services provided by these teams will be consolidated and moved to a new centre at VGH beginning in early 2016. Meanwhile, staff at these four teams received termination notices going into the Christmas season.

    Bless us, everyone!

    These are our colleagues, friends, and BWB’s. Many have been working effectively as teams for years. They now get to apply for their jobs back, but with no guarantees. They were given about a week to decide whether they will apply for the new positions at VGH, apply for other open postings within VCH, or “bump” by seniority into already staffed positions at other teams in Vancouver Community.

    I’m not overly sentimental in regard to Christmas, but I can’t help but feel not-so-good for my colleagues whose work lives, family plans, and personal peace of mind are dealt such a disruptive card at this time of year. Isn’t there a more “People First” time and manner to implement this change?

    Clearly, VCH leadership has to be able to make strategic decisions around the modes and mechanisms of care delivery. That’s the job description. But I’m wondering. Should head office be surprised if sudden, top-down decisions (like pink slips at Christmas) cause previously loyal staff to question their commitment to VCH and ponder whether the grass may be greener somewhere else?

    I’m going on a blind hunch here. One thing to avoid doing if you want to keep good staff from leaving VCH, don’t send out pink slips at Christmas.

    • Lyndsay Ferguson says:

      I agree. I’m disheartened, after 26 years at VCH. I shouldn’t even get started.

    • Mary Ackenhusen says:

      Hi Mike,

      Thank you for your greetings, and let me offer my own Best Wishes to you.

      I want to address the comments you shared about changes in Vancouver Community. There are actually positive things on the horizon for the programs you reference, including SAFER and Community Link, which are moving to the Health Centre on the VGH campus to join the existing Outpatient Program in mid January. This is a change in location, but no staff members are losing their jobs as a result.

      Similarly, the AHBT, MHES and VAMHI programs are coming together to create the new Access and Assessment Centre, which opens in mid-February. This is an extremely positive move for patients as it will pull so many different services under one roof and make it easier for staff to coordinate their care. It’s a big change, one that involves a new location, new job descriptions, and a new mix of unions…but very importantly, it does NOT involve job loss; we need to retain our experienced staff members to fill all of these new positions and create the best mental health programs and services possible.

      So yes, change is underfoot, but existing staff who want to be part of these new models of care will continue to have a meaningful role with VCH.


  • Mary Ackenhusen says:

    Thank you Melody. I love your love of our residents – we are very lucky to have you. Have a wonderful holiday season.


  • says:

    I stayed at my work because I love my job. I was a Care Aide before I started at Minoru Residence. Now, I’m a Practical Nurse, I’ve been in different places throughout VCH but my heart stayes with Minoru. Having said that because, I was lucky to be called by someone to apply, I don’t have any idea who was the person who gave me this chance. I stayed positive even though there are lots of negativities, I just kept in mind that I’m in this job because I knew that in my heart this is my joy to help the residents in my work. To see them happy, and let them feel that they are cared for. I started in 1998, I tried to face all the challenges I’ve encountered at work, despite all that I’m still here. I’ve watched the video, the reasons why staff left are all through. It will not affect me as I’m through to what I’ve said I was thankful to be given the chance to work at VCH Minoru Residence.
    I’ve experienced to be valued before by previous Manager like perfect attendance, staff birthdays the Manager gave a card and small things, now they are all gone. I’m happy and proud to be a VCH employee. THANK YOU!

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