Can a Hospital Be Like
a Grocery Store?
By Mark Lerner
I am currently enjoying a book that
should be required reading for all of us
employed in the medical field: Conscious
Capitalism: Liberating the Heroic Spirit of
Business, by John Mackey and Raj Sisodia.
Mr. Mackey, as many people know,
is the co-founder of the widely popular
Whole Foods Market. For years I have
greatly enjoyed shopping at one of his
stores. As a matter of fact, there is now one
located right next door to where I work.
When I enter the building I can always
find one of the hospitals’ staff members
buying something at the same time.
The book explains the reason for the
chain’s success. It starts, according to the
authors, with high employee engagement.
The writers point out the low employee
engagement rates calculated by the
Gallup Organization that characterize
most American companies. They remark
that most people work so that they can
go on vacation and, conversely, see their
day to day job activities as drudgery.
They question why it has to be that way.
There is much discussion about the
right way to treat workers. The primary
reason for their tremendous concern for
staff is that it is the right thing to do. But
the lesson they have learned, and the one
that those of you who use Gallup as con-
sultants are already familiar with, is that
happy employees lead to happy custom-
ers. In fact, the Whole Foods Company
works hard to develop excellent rela-
tionships with all stakeholders. Besides
employees, this includes customers,
vendors, investors, and non-profits. One
interesting aspect of their business is that
Whole Foods contributes between five
and ten percent of their profits every year
to charity. The authors estimate that their
return on investment on philanthropic
giving is over 1,000 percent in the good
will toward the company that it creates,
the new customers it develops, and the
increase in employee pride resulting from
helping people in need.
Mark Lerner is the director of diagnostic imaging at
the George Washington University Hospital. He can
be reached at Mark. Lerner@gwu-hospital.com.