It was just the other day that I picked up a newspaper with a wild and angry headline and equally indignant introduction about livid staff at one of the nation’s biggest public hospitals calling for crisis talks with the Health Director-General to voice their serious concerns about the activities of their board.
It was certainly unhealthy stuff and a stark reminder that boards need to be as concerned with staff attitudes and values as they are with financial and other indicators of success.
They need to grasp the mood and understand the pulse of the people lest all the other good work they carry out on the tangibles like numbers and efficiencies comes to nought. After all, it’s a truism of corporate life that positive staff attitude invariably translates into organisational success…and one the good people at the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital are grappling with right now.
As a brief overview for those not familiar with the case, the hospital employees – led by the doctors – are gravely concerned by the recent spate of resignations by executive directors, one of whom departed in a big hurry after being in the post for less than 24 months.
Matters have been compounded by executive disquiet, with some 20 senior officials resigning, being sacked or suspended over the last 18 months amid swirling rumours of alleged nepotism, corruption and the like. People like the CEO, the director of nursing, the director of HR, the director of corporate services.
There is clearly a very, very sick culture, which – along with the inevitable cost of these sackings, suspensions and resignations, not to mention the hefty law suits that are bound to follow – threatens to negate the board’s commendable efforts at driving significant efficiencies and improvements in areas such as ER and elective surgery waiting times.
The goings-on at the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital remind us that the very good boards place great store on engagement and communication with staff. They also bring the triple bottom line of financial, environmental and social together in a single set of accounts.
And they understand and value the eight forms of capital, comprising intellectual, spiritual, social, material, financial, living, cultural and human.
That’s a topic for another day, suffice it to say that those that embrace all forms of capital and see them, in black and white, in a single set of accounts, will invariably place greater and more balanced emphasis on all the many and varied assets and, in so doing, protect and nurture the health of the organisation.
Yes, it’s tough, as our hospital in question is discovering, especially when the market tends to drive short-term performance.
But we’re now living in a society where other forms of capital are just as important, so much so that without them, there can be no financial capital!
Until next time,