JEFF HARGETT: I think that probably the most significant thing for the Institute to get across, or to share with participants, is the importance of design-- putting something in place that there is background and there is design to it. It doesn't just happen. It doesn't just organically come together. But there is intentional design put into the service that we want to provide.
We have intentional design when we think about the health care providers. Whether it's performing an operation or running a hospital or running a senior care center, there's always design with those things. But somehow we tend to forget about the design of the service aspect.
And I think that bringing these three groups of individuals together-- design, hospitality, and health care-- is a wonderful start to ultimately delivering that excellent patient experience, because that's really the core of why people are here. It's to improve that patient experience. And having that intentionally-designed process through the lens of hospitality will ultimately deliver that in health care.
From a health care perspective, one of the things that's lacking in health care training is the hospitality arm, because physicians and doctors, they learn medical procedures, they learn how to perform surgery, they learn all these things. But the industry is now, itself, looking at the experience. And the students who are in hospitality, learning a part of health care, getting that taste of that-- because we do see patients who are-- they go to the hospital, they have the surgery. And then they are recuperating-- especially high-end patients, for major surgery-- they're recuperating in hotels.
There are physicians that have contracts with properties, with hotels, where they will send their patients to recuperate there because of all the things that we're looking at from the survey perspective of H guests-- the quietness, the comfort, all of those things. And they send them there into that hospitality world to recuperate. So there is that connection between health care and hospitality. And the hospitality students learning that, understanding that, is quite beneficial.
And I think it should also be the other way as well. Health care providers, during their health care education journey, they should be learning some of the hospitality issues, some of the hospitality components of health care. Because I think that that's what's lacking.
We come from a world of delivering great service at Ritz-Carlton. And when we see the physicians, and when we work with hospitals, and we see that that aspect of care is not evident, I learned that it's because they've never been taught that. It's all about the clinical aspect, but they never learn about the caring part. Somehow, that's been lost in health care. It's not a focus anymore. So I think the two-- the disciplines really learning from each other is quite important.
One of the things that we continuously talk about is the fact that sometimes we don't feel the designers of the properties understand the operation of the property. There's a sense of going for what's beautiful, and the beautiful spas and the beautiful layout of the rooms. It looks good. But is it practical?
And when we translate that into the health care world, we have sometimes the same problems. The designers come in, it looks beautiful. We're using all of the right materials. But have we talked to those who, on a daily basis, need to use this space? And how can we incorporate all the beauty that we're thinking of with the practicality of what's needed? And I think that's incredibly important, to have those two groups of people come together.
Some of the hospitals that I've visited and worked in, they really have talked to the people who, on a daily basis, are utilizing the space. And now it's coming to life. And the patients are starting to feel that. There's so much emotion.
And designers think about this all the time. There's such an emotional connection. There's such a psychological connection to-- when I walk in the door, how do I feel? What do I see? What do I hear? Even down to the smells that are present-- those all impact the ultimate experience of that individual. Be it in the hotel, be it in the hospital-- it impacts that.
So I think the designers play a key role in that, of really-- not just the beauty side. Yes, we want that. We want it to be appealing and pleasing to the eye. But how can we balance that with the practicality of day-to-day operations in the world that we live in?
Someone talked about taking their father to the doctor. And they went into the facility. And everyone was in masks. And there was a lot of arms crossed, and people were kind of standoffish.
And then they went to another provider for a second opinion. They walked in the door-- everybody was welcoming. The doctor came, they sat down, eye level. They held the hand of the patient. And it's those kinds of psychological components that we really have to tap into. And that's what brings the experience to life.
SPEAKER 1: Yeah, absolutely.
JEFF HARGETT: And so many times people are concerned about costs, and what did that cost? Just to sit, eye level with the patient, and hold their hand.
Teamwork-- we've got to learn to work as a team, hospitality as well as health care. Quite frankly, we will never have enough people. We'll never have enough people that will do the work. It will always be-- we need more people. We need more people. We need more people. So we've got to learn to work as a team.
That's an important aspect for us at Ritz-Carlton. We call it lateral service. It means that when I see my coworker in need of help, I help them. We're in this together.
Yes, you have your responsibilities. I have my responsibilities. But if we're going to win, if we're going to be the best, we've got to learn to work together. So teamwork is an important aspect for us.
Employee engagement-- the idea that employees feel a sense of ownership and entrepreneurial spirit about, this is my hospital. This is my place of work. I don't own it. I'm not the president. I'm not the CEO. But it's still mine. And I want to be proud of where I am and what I do and the people I work with. So employee engagement is one of the strengths we have at Ritz-Carlton and one of the most important aspects of our success.
And I think one of the challenges that I see quite regularly is accountability, is holding people accountable for doing the work. We can tell them, we can lay out the process. We can say, this is what you're responsible for doing.
And then if, the first time they don't provide that service and we do nothing about it, it's tacit approval. I didn't-- I told you you were supposed to do it. You didn't do it. Well, I know you're busy. We find that excuse for not representing who we are.
If we say that we are the best, and the patients come in and they're expecting the best, then that's what we have to deliver. And every person has to deliver that. Not just the physician, not just the nurse, but across the board-- EVS, all of the environmental staff, the doctor, the nurse, the pharmacist, the phlebotomist, whomever it may be in the organization, they have that responsibility of delivering that service. And they have to be held accountable for that.
Just because I don't have the face-to-face contact with the patient-- same thing in our world, just because I don't have the face-to-face contact with the guest, that's not my bye to not have to do it. We're all responsible. We're responsible to each other, as well as to that patient or guest.
SPEAKER 1: That's awesome.
JEFF HARGETT: Change is difficult. Change is necessary. Change is inevitable. It's something that we can't avoid. Sometimes we won't-- maybe use the terminology evolution versus change, because people are afraid of that word, oftentimes.
But in every organization, we have to stay relevant. We've got to stay in that world that our guests, our patients, our customers-- whatever title we give them-- live in, because they are the ones who keep us going. So we've got to serve them in whatever way that we can.
Now, when you've got people that have been-- I've been with the Ritz-Carlton for 21 years. I've been there when we were very much what someone might consider more structured. It was kind of very tight knit within-- you play within the sandbox. And that's pretty much how it works.
But over the years, our guests have evolved. The men in the three-piece business suits with the briefcase coming in for their two-Martini lunch and that type of thing, that doesn't exist really that much anymore. We have CEOs of companies who check in our property in board shorts and flip-flops. And they're worth a billion dollars-- or more, sometimes. And so they're not looking for us to provide what someone who might come in in a suit might expect-- still excellence, still top of the line, the best. But it doesn't look the same way to them.
So that whole idea of being able to go in in nice settings and create these wonderful things, it's a blessing to be able to do that. But that's not reality. The more realistic way is that we've got people who have been in their positions, they've been doing this for years. In their mind, they know how to do it. They know what they're supposed to do.
As you said, [? Brooke, ?] don't talk to me about this customer service thing. I'm here to take care of you, to save your life, to heal you. I don't necessarily have to be nice to you. Well-- it would be nice if you were. And the nice doesn't have to be Frette linen on the bed. The nice can be the smile, and the good morning, and how are you, and the holding of the hand, and those types of things.
So what we've found is that for those that are in that world, that feel like either this doesn't apply to me or I don't have time to do these things, I've got to take care of my patients-- what we've found is beneficial is to involve them. Let them be part of the change. Let them be part of driving the change. Let them be part of coming up with what needs to be changed.
I can guarantee you, in every organization, there are employees who are thinking to themselves-- if they would just ask me, I'll be glad to tell them what we need to be doing. Well, let's ask them. Let's ask them. Let's give them the opportunity to voice their opinion.
We also have to be honest with them, to say, sometimes-- because many times the answer will be, well, I need to be paid more per hour. Well, if we can, we'd like to do that. That's not a guarantee. And we know also that just because we pay them more per hour, that's not going to necessarily fix the problem.
So there are things that can be done, can't be done-- being transparent with them, being upfront, being honest, but involving them in these ideas of how do we become better? How do we take ourselves to the next level? And it goes back to what I mentioned before about that entrepreneurial spirit.
When I get to do that, I now have more of a sense that this is my hospital. I am part of making it better. Even sometimes the most negative people, the naysayers, when they see that someone's listening and they get to bring forth their ideas-- maybe they've got a great idea. And we need to use that and to thank them for that.
When they see that they've now become part of this and, it's not somebody from the ivory tower coming in and saying, this is what you're going to do-- because even just the act of doing that turns them off. And they're not even going to try. They're not even going to make the effort to make the change.
But when they are part of that, they're bought into it. I helped to put this together. They-- meaning the company-- is listening to us, what we've been asking them to do for a long time. They're listening to us. And we get to help create either a culture from scratch, or take an existing culture and let's make sure that that culture that might have been created 50, 100 years ago-- is it still relevant? Is it still what we want to do?
At the Ritz-Carlton, our credo has been around for many, many years, even through different presidents of the organization, because it's a statement-- it's who we are as a company. And it has nothing to do with a person. It has to do with who we are. What do we represent? We want to be the best. This is who we are. This is how we do it. And it's much easier for those employees who, on a daily basis, are responsible for delivering on that to do it. And they feel it's part of them.
Those people behind the scenes who-- in their mind, in the minds of their leaders oftentimes-- they have no contact with the patient, with the guests. And so the value of their work is not there. Let's just be honest, it's not there.
But we value that at Ritz-Carlton, because we understand, if that housekeeping department shuts down, everyone's impacted. If the laundry department shuts down, everybody's impacted. And those ladies and gentlemen, typically, in a hotel are down in the basement. Nobody ever goes by there. Nobody ever interacts with them. But what they present to the organization as a whole is quite important.
So in a health care environment, a gentleman who was in EVS-- this is one of the organizations that we worked with-- gentleman was in EVS. Before we started working with them, he had blinders on. He saw himself-- I empty the trash. I sweep the floors. I mop the floors. That's all I do.
After starting to help build a relationship between the EVS and the nursing staff, there started to become more of an appreciation for each other. So this gentleman, on one of his rounds and cleaning the room, now seeing himself as more than-- and we call it "just a" at Ritz-Carlton-- more than just a housekeeper. He sees himself as now part of the infection control team. He's in a patient room. He notices something's not right.
He's not a clinician. He didn't go to medical school. He doesn't know all the terminologies. But he knows something is not right. It's got that feeling.
He goes down to the nurse's station and says, someone needs to check on this patient. Something's not right. The nurse, now because of a stronger relationship, values what this person is telling her or him, versus previously, where they'd say, well, you're in EVS. What do you know? But now they value that relationship.
So that nurse now goes down to the room. And indeed something was wrong. Something was wrong. And the nurse was able to take steps, now, to help save this person's life.
So now you've got an EVS, a housekeeping person who has been elevated beyond just the task or the function of their job to where-- I have power to help make this better. I didn't go in and perform any kind of medical procedure on this person. But I let the people who know how to do that-- I let them know something wasn't right. And they valued my insight, because I wouldn't come down there unless I felt it was necessary to tell the nurse that.
And so now, all of a sudden, here's a team of people-- a nurse, EVS-- working together, helping each other out. And who benefits from that? The patient does, because they were able to save their life.
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Jeff Hargett, Senior Corporate Director, Culture Transformation, The Ritz-Carlton Leadership Center, was interviewed during the Cornell Hospitality, Health and Design Symposium, "In Search of a Healthy Future" on October 10, 2016.