Planetree Symposium at IUBH

On February 14th, 2020, Planetree e.V. in collaboration with IUBH held a symposium at the IUBH Bad Honnef campus. Entitled “Warmly Welcome 2: Attracting, Motivating and Retaining Employees”, the event tackled the question of how healthcare institutions can best recruit new employees while also reducing overall staff turnover. The discussions were anchored by the two keynote speakers, Prof. Susanne Böhlich of the IUBH International Management faculty and Joep Verbugt, Executive Director of GgZE, an innovative and award-winning psychiatric hospital in the Netherlands. Dr. med. Dorothea Wild, Director of Planetree Germany, gave us insights into the success of the symposium at IUBH.  


In her address, Prof. Böhlich emphasised the need for healthcare managers to take into account the varying career needs and expectations of Gen X, Millennial and Gen Z candidates as part of the recruiting process. The successful healthcare provider, she asserted, is one that invests in training and developing managers, and works to offer flexible options to best accommodate employees’ work-life balance. 
Mr. Verbugt meanwhile based his comments on his experience of running an institution with a high level of client and employee satisfaction.  He said that there is one fundamental question that all healthcare providers should continually ask themselves: “Is the care we are delivering here the care we would want for ourselves and our loved ones?” Via thPlanetree model, Mr. Verbugt guided a cultural transformation at GgZE that included, for example, the abolition of reserved parking for company leadership as an indication that management was there to serve the employees and patients, not the other way round. In all, the changes put it in place by Mr Verbugt resulted in a 40% reduction in complaints and a 40% increase in volunteer helpers, along with significant improvements in staff satisfaction and sick time.  


Challenging Questions, Interactive Engagement 

Dr. Wild noted the enthusiasm of the symposium audience, who had many challenging questions for the expert panel. Many of the audience being themselves key decision-makers at healthcare facilities, their input featured concrete examples of timely situations around departmental restructuring, recruiting new staff, and providing the sense of belonging and flexibility crucial to retaining employees long-term. 
The speeches were followed by two “escape room” games based on a nursing-home and hospital scenario, respectively. This part of the conference was described afterwards by many participants as one of the highlights. As Juriaan v. Rijswijk, founder of Games for Health and co-developer of the escape rooms, put it, “Play is our brains’ natural way of learning. Learning team work and patient-centred care by playing it has the potential to transform healthcare”.   


Planetree was founded in the United States in the 1970s by Angelica Thierot. She drew on her own experiences as a patient, and developed a better healthcare model for both patients and practitioners worldwide. Planetree Germany has been working in association with IUBH very successfully for several years.

Dorothea Wild is a general practitioner from Bonn. As Director of Planetree Germany, she hopes to make healthcare a space in which with patients and personnel can feel comfortable and open with each other. To relax, she likes to walk, do yoga and take care of her poodle, Jack.    

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