This month, the Johnson Health Center in Lynchburg became the first federally qualified health center to be named an Employer of Choice.
The designation — which is only given to four or five companies annually — means workers, employees and contractors choose to work for that employer when presented with other choices of employment because of draws like job stability and satisfaction and workplace culture.
“A lot of people want to be employers of choice,” but few actually obtain that designation, said Joyce L. Gioia, of Employer of Choice International, Inc., which considers companies all over the world for the award.
A number of hospitals and health care systems are employers of choice, including Sentara.
The Johnson Health Center is a nonprofit that provides health care to patients in Lynchburg and the counties of Amherst, Appomattox, Bedford and Campbell. It has clinics in Bedford, Amherst and Lynchburg as well as two dental clinics and a pharmacy. It accepts all forms of insurance, including Medicaid, and serves patients who are under-insured or uninsured by providing them service on a sliding-fee scale.
The award means the company has a high level of performance, a level of workforce stability and continuity that preserves its knowledge base, high employee satisfaction and a strong bottom line, according to Gioia.
At any given time, 400 companies are in the process of seeking the designation from the organization, she said, adding companies typically make several attempts before actually winning the distinction.
The Johnson Health Center probably has a better culture than most, and most of them have more resources than the Johnson Health Center, according to Gioia.
Johnson Health Center began applying for the award for the first time in August 2014 and only learned the results this month.
“There’s a lot that went into this,” said Gary Campbell, CEO of Johnson Health Center.
The process included an in-depth survey of all employees and an evaluation of the company’s culture, leadership, customer care, growth and opportunity, meaningful work, compensation and benefits, employee loyalty and performance results.
In the case of Johnson Health Center, 82 percent of employees responded to the surveys, which Gioia said is significant.
“It was the best culture that we have ever looked at,” Gioia said. “They scored the highest on our survey in terms of some of the questions that we asked.”
Nicolette Coleman, registered nurse care manager for Johnson Health Center, said the questions essentially asked employees if they were happy working at the health center.
“I answered yes to pretty much everything,” said Coleman, a military veteran who has worked at the center for seven years come September.
She started with the company as a licensed practical nurse but said the work inspired her to pursue her Registered Nurse license, which made her more marketable. She originally had planned to leave the area. As she watched the center grow, add staff and develop health teams specifically to care holistically for patients, she decided to stay.
“We all work together. There is no bickering; it’s not like a catty office,” she said. “The providers are very approachable and helpful and give you a lot of insight. The communication … we all approach each other respectfully.”
The award doesn’t mean things are perfect, though.
Coleman said communication always can be improved, and the center could use some more space. The downtown clinic has outgrown its physical space, even as the demand for health care services continues to increase, Coleman said.
“I chose to stay at the Johnson Health Center because we are a very caring group of people. To work here is an awesome experience,” she said.
Article originally in the News and Advance