EVS Directors Tell All: How to Create a Positive Environmental Services Team Experience

Posted on August 17, 2016

Here at HHS we recognize that in order to have successful teams, we must start with strong leaders. HHS is proud to have some of the hardest working directors in the industry, who put forth a lot of energy toward making their teams successful every single day.

To get an insight into the role of a director and their relationship with the team members they lead, we spoke with three of our top-performing Environmental Services (EVS) directors from around the country: Joel Pino in Gainesville, Florida (HHS team member since 2009); Witt Copeland in Brandon, Florida (HHS team member since 2010); and Demetrius Robinson in Blue Island, Illinois (HHS team member since 2000).

To get an insight into the challenging yet rewarding world of a healthcare EVS director, we asked, "What do you do to create a positive work environment for your team?"

Joel Pino shared that one of the most challenging aspects of being an EVS director is managing the department.

"The truth is, it’s the lowest paying department in hospital. Nurses and doctors aspire to their profession. We have people that for one reason or another found their way to EVS, so you have to work hard to get buy-in from your team. We have more issues than other departments with call-outs and team members finding other jobs. To counter those challenges, we do a lot of things to make it fun; we have a lot of different parties, contests, and games."

"I love to celebrate and honor our team members when I have the opportunity," says Witt Copeland. "At my last job, one of our housekeepers used to play in a band in his younger days.  But as he's gotten older and has been through some struggles, he wasn’t able to afford a good guitar and play anymore. The others directors and I and our regional vice president all chipped in and bought him a nice guitar and presented it to him in front of team as an award for excellent service. He appreciated it greatly, and even now that I have moved facilities, I still hear from him regularly."

In order to be successful as an EVS manager, Copeland says, "Make sure you’re keeping the team as top priority."

"Hold frequent potlucks and gatherings and be sure to celebrate any big achievements," encourages Copeland. "At HHS, there is money in the budget specifically for these kinds of celebrations, so be sure to use it!"

Demetrius Robinson agreed completely with this sentiment. "We do different social functions, have an employee of the month, and do cake and ice cream socials for birthdays. We throw parties and follow the safety reward program. By investing a lot of time in team members we get them to buy-in to the program. We’ve worked hard to build trust and show that HHS is concerned about and supports our team, and that has gone a long way to create a positive environment."

One of the ways Pino helps get his team members engaged is to make videos. "My team and I have made a few videos, which can be a really fun way of learning something new or practicing what they already know," Pino explains. "We're currently doing a room turn-around contest: If the team meets their goals the hospital will buy them lunch or dinner. Different, fun things like that keep people happy and motivated to do a great job."

Making the job fun wherever possible can go a long way with creating positive morale with team members.

"One thing that I do to create a fun environment is putting a lot of work into the daily huddles to make them an event that the team members don’t want to miss," says Robinson. "We do different fun things each day and have different themes. Sometimes I dress up as superhero for a safety huddle to promote a safety topic or idea. Sometimes we play games like safety bingo, giving out meal tickets for the day to the winner. Invest the time in daily safety huddles where you can always teach something new and reinforce a program or policy and do it in a fun way, and you will keep them focused and see the results when you do your rounds. "

Pino emphasized the work he puts into creating a great relationship with his team. "If you really get to know each team member individually and really connect with each one on a personal level, that makes everything else a whole lot easier. If you can do that and keep everyone happy that translates to the patient experience. If your team is happy at work, they’ll be happy when interacting with patients."

"At the end of the day, the most important thing I can do is remain positive in myself, and the team will reflect how I feel," says Copeland. "They are priority number one, and to take care of them I need to take care of myself. Don’t let the team see your daily struggles and stresses. Keep the team and hospital at the top. Make sure rounding and effective communication, not only on a work level, but on a personal level as well, are a priority. Make sure they know we understand and care about each of their specific needs as well."

EVS team high five

For more information on our approach to Environmental Services, please contact us.