Cascade Health

Cascade Health is a non-profit healthcare organization located in Eugene, Oregon whose mission is to enhance the quality of life for the 50,000 people served each year through the diverse array of offerings including: comprehensive occupational health, diabetes education, behavior health, home health, palliative care, and hospice.  Cascade Health has 220 employees with an annual revenue of $22 million. In 2016, Cascade leaders engaged in a comprehensive strategic planning process for a strong and viable future despite the challenging landscape of the Health Care industry.  It was critical that these strategies aligned with the support and service philosophy core to Cascade Health’s values and built upon the strong organizational culture recognized as a Top 100 Non-Profit to Work for in the State of Oregon for nine years.

The Challenge:

Along with most health care organizations, Cascade Health is experiencing  a “perfect storm” from the unprecedented change and challenges that are dominating its industry. Health care reform has turned the industry upside down.

Along with most health care organizations, Cascade Health was and is experiencing a “perfect storm” from the unprecedented change and challenges that are dominating its industry.  Health care reform has and continues to turn the health care industry upside down.

  • Workers at all levels are experiencing change burnout and are struggling with increased workloads.
  • Experienced health care professionals are leaving the industry; there is a scarcity of talent.
  • Reimbursement for services is declining.

The Approach: 

After researching different approaches, Cascade Health CEO Cheryl Boyum, along with her senior leadership team made the decision to incorporate a Strengths-Based approach into the culture of Cascade to fortify the leadership and management teams. 34 Strong and their team of consultants, was engaged to deliver a three phase engagement Initiative through a Strengths-Based approach to development.

Phase 1:

In September 2016, 34 Strong introduced the engagement and strengths concepts to 20 managers and senior leaders in a one-day session. The Q12 engagement survey was administered to the management team and reviewed with senior leaders to understand areas of focus to increase manager engagement. Over the next twelve months, a series of coaching and training workshops was implemented to increase each manager’s effectiveness at leveraging their strengths to increase personal and team engagement. 

Phase 2:

In October 2017, the management team participated in a the two-day, Best Manager Academy to understand how to utilize their knowledge of CliftonStrengths coupled with coaching and training techniques to enhance the engagement of each team member within their department.  

Phase 3:

In February, 2018, six Cascade team members went through a three day Strengths and Engagement Ambassador (SEA) training through 34 Strong. The “SEA Team” played a big part in rolling out strengths to every Cascade team member and co-facilitated StrengthsFinder Discovery Day trainings alongside a 34 Strong trainer. Today, the SEA Team provides Strengths training and coaching for all new Cascade employees and managers as part of a comprehensive onboarding program. Additionally, ongoing strengths training sessions are offered to Cascade individual contributors, as well as, ongoing coaching and support to managers as they continue to incorporate the strengths and engagement program within their departments.

Results from the Strengths and Engagement Approach:

  1. Senior Team Effectiveness: Prior to the culture initiative, there were senior team members who did not appreciate the strengths of other members. This sometimes resulted in conflict, misunderstandings, wasted time and distrust. As leaders learned their strengths, and the strengths of team members, a growing respect for strengths diversity among themselves, resulted in improved communication, increased trust, and the ability to collaborate more efficiently to handle tough issues.  
  2. Manager Effectiveness: Prior to the strengths initiative, managers functioned as individual silos within their departments.  They have evolved into a unified, cohesive team that reaches out to each other to access their strengths to solve issues and to generate new ideas.  The process was also key to identify managers struggling in their role, and transitioning them into individual contributor roles which were a better fit for their strengths, and ultimately beneficial to the engagement of their team members.  
  3. Employee Engagement: In February 2018, the Q12 Engagement Survey was administered to all 220 Cascade employees. Results demonstrated that 50% of Cascade Health employees were engaged in their work. When compared to the national average of 33% employee engagement, the results were very encouraging.  
  4. Increased Revenue: Cascade Health’s revenue grew 15% between 2016 and 2018.  This is especially remarkable since Cascade Health achieved this while opening a 14-bed specialized hospital for hospice patients in 2017. 
  5. Employee Retention: Turnover at Cascade Health continues to be well below national averages. In 2017, Cascade’s voluntary turnover was 18.7% as compared to 25.8% for health care organizations in the Western Region.  Since the integration of Strengths into the culture, there has been 95% retention of managers and leaders.
  6. Successful Transition: The Strengths initiative contributed significantly to a very successful transition in the CEO position. The Board of Directors were able to understand and appreciate the differences between the strengths of the previous CEO and her successor.  Understanding the strengths of each allowed Board members to understand how to support the new CEO and assist him to reach his highest potential as a leader. Additionally, gaining insight from strengths helped the new CEO recruit senior leaders with strengths diversity to enhance the organizations effectiveness.  

Next Steps:

Cascade Health leadership is committed to continue with the Strengths and Engagement initiative as an integral piece of the organization’s culture. Lead by the new CEO, the Strengths and Engagement Ambassadors, oversee the ongoing Strengths coaching and training programs, as well as the administration, and follow-up, of an annual employee engagement survey. Cascade Health has the goal to reach 70% employee engagement which would rank the organization as a world-wide “Best Place to Work.”

Making life better

Health and wellness are part of life in the home, at work, and within our community. When something unexpected occurs, Cascade Health is there to make life better by providing services that include home health and hospice, occupational health, employee wellness, behavioral health, and chronic disease management.