Sodexo Research Identifies Key Elements that Increase Hospital Employee Satisfaction and Reduce Turnover

September 08, 2008

Nationwide study reveals behavioral training has the most impact on employee engagement

Sodexo Research Identifies Key Elements that Increase Hospital Employee Satisfaction and Reduce Turnover

Gaithersburg, MD – September 8, 2008 – Eight key drivers of job satisfaction among frontline service employees in the hospital work environment have been identified in a multi-year nationwide study in 14 hospitals conducted for Sodexo, a leading food service and facilities management company. Dubbed “the Patient Experience 8” by Sodexo, the elements employees identified that increase satisfaction and reduce turnover are:

  • A positive/fun place to work
  • A department that values individual differences
  • Opportunities to learn and grow
  • Clearly explained department mission and goals
  • Good communication with the direct supervisor
  • A safe work environment
  • Clear explanation of corporate value proposition and philosophy 
  • The manager provides top quality service.

“These findings demonstrate that the substance of our training programs effectively addresses these needs and therefore the positive results can be replicated in literally thousands of hospitals,” said Dudley Abbe, vice president Sodexo Patient Experience.

The study, part of Sodexo’s ongoing Quality of Life research, also found that these eight elements can be instilled in employees through comprehensive and targeted training programs. For example, Sodexo manages a program called Focus on Service Spirit in its Health Care Services division, which provides foundational elements of customer service (such as Special Needs of our Customers, Moments of Truth and Legendary Service) for frontline hospital workers and managers. In addition, Sodexo’s proprietary CARES behavioral training program is specifically designed to reinforce critical behaviors for health care service workers in the areas of compassion, accountability, respect, enthusiasm and service. A companion study for Sodexo announced earlier this year showed that these same behavioral areas also improve the hospital experience for patients, visitors and clinical staff.

Nationwide, the average score for employees who had completed Sodexo’s CARES training was significantly higher on measurements of employee satisfaction, engagement and perceived ability to deliver top-quality service than the scores for employees who had not had the training.

At one of the test sites, Piedmont Medical Center in Rock Hill, South Carolina, Sodexo realized a double-digit increase in food service employee retention, with a nearly 30% increase after the training was implemented. A 20% increase was measured for employees working in environmental services.

“With this training we show service employees that their jobs are really important to how people feel about their hospital experience. They come to understand that what they do directly affects patients’ perception of the hospital – and whether those patients recommend the hospital to others or not,” said Debbie Thomas, Sodexo’s HR Director for the Patient Experience.

Sodexo research methodology
More than 2,000 employees managed by Sodexo at 14 hospitals were given an 800 number to call and had 30 days to complete the survey using a touchtone telephone and an Interactive Voice Recording (IVR) system. The survey was offered in both English and Spanish. The response rate was 49.7 percent, a high response rate for support service personnel. The next phase of the employee engagement study will expand the research to over 60 hospitals across the country. The study was developed by Sodexo in 2005 and was conducted in partnership with NRC Picker. 

Sodexo, Inc.
Sodexo, Inc. ( is a leading integrated food and facilities management services company in the U.S., Canada and Mexico, with $7.3 billion (USD) in annual revenue and 120,000 employees. Sodexo, Inc. serves more than ten million customers daily in corporations, health care, long term care and retirement centers, schools, college campuses, government and remote sites. Sodexo, Inc., headquartered in Gaithersburg, Md., is a member of Sodexo Group, and funds the Sodexo Foundation (, an independent charitable organization that, since its founding in 1999, has made more than $9.2 million in grants to fight hunger in America.

NRC Picker
NRC Picker is passionate about patient-centered care and always dedicated to measuring and improving the most important aspects of the patient experience. NRC Picker's comprehensive approach to integrated research, evidenced-based best practice recommendations and quality improvement helps clients achieve successful patient-centered care environments.

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