Saint Elizabeth encourages innovation from employees

By Jessica Weisz

Saint Elizabeth is leveraging its 8,000 employees to help drive innovation and improve healthcare delivery for the more than 18,000 people it visits daily. The social enterprise has become the first Canadian healthcare company to adopt SoapBox, a SaaS platform that flattens organizations by connecting leaders with the best ideas from frontline workers.

“Our front-line home care employees have the very best ideas for making things better for clients. SoapBox allows these ideas to come to life,” said Shirlee Sharkey, President and CEO of Saint Elizabeth. “On the site, the ideas are broadly shared in real-time within the organization and because of our virtual work, this allows staff to collaborate with colleagues everywhere – many of whom, they never see in person.”

The way that Saint Elizabeth handles SoapBox ideas cuts through the typical organizational challenges that get in the way of implementation and expands the innovation capacity of the organization.

“Ideas are framed around the client experience, which aligns to Saint Elizabeth’s top priorities” said Sharkey.

When an employee shares an idea on SoapBox, their peers can view, comment, and vote on it. Once the idea receives 25 or more positive votes, a team of Innovation Partners at Saint Elizabeth review, evaluate, and respond to the idea by providing an “Official Response”, a statement from the leaders that shares the status on the idea and next steps.

According to Brennan McEachran, CEO and co-founder of SoapBox, “official responses are critical to sustaining and increasing engagement in the community, as they close the feedback loop and demonstrate that leaders are listening.”

As Saint Elizabeth is working to leverage technology in a number of ways, they were able to integrate ideas from SoapBox into their technology and mobile strategy. The organization recently initiated a major rollout of new tablets and smartphones to team members across the country.

For the first year of the rollout, Saint Elizabeth engaged its workforce to come up with ideas to derive value from their new devices. The ideas and suggestions led to optimization of the features, customizations, and which apps were most helpful.

As one example, SoapBox has been a significant source of insight into Saint Elizabeth’s bereavement strategy. Saint Elizabeth uses SoapBox to tap into employee insights around bereavement and supportive conversations. More than 100 employees have commented, voted, and shared techniques and best practices from across the country to help support both the family of the client and members of the healthcare team.

Recently, best practices generated in SoapBox around bereavement were incorporated into a guideline to support nurses with bereavement visits and also helped to inform program enhancements. Saint Elizabeth re-launched the bereavement visit process for nurses, as well as a Guide for Leaders on supporting staff with grief.

When Saint Elizabeth launched Elizz, a new brand dedicated to all things caregiving, the company leveraged SoapBox and the wisdom of its employees to inform the development of new services and resources for caregivers.

As home care providers, Saint Elizabeth staff work alongside family caregivers every day and bring a unique understanding of their challenges and needs. The Family Caregiver Challenge generated more than 100 ideas about ways to support caregivers and make a difference in their lives. For example, suggestions regarding a virtual social network where caregivers could anonymously share their experiences and connect with others in similar situations are being brought to life through Elizz Group Support.

In 2016, Saint Elizabeth plans to further engage its workforce with an exciting roster of Challenges. These Challenges will focus on tying ideation to strategic projects or initiatives the organization is working on from the early planning stages, so that the employee voice can really have an impact on execution.

The organization is also teaming up with Radboudumc’s REshape Center to launch a SoapBox to their network of global health care innovators. Their objective is to create a people-powered healthcare system, improve the methodology of healthcare innovation, and to identify and break down challenges to innovation in healthcare.

“At Saint Elizabeth, we see possibility everywhere,” said Sharkey. “With our employee SoapBox, our aim is to harness the passion and imagination of our mobile, national workforce – all eight thousand of them.”

Jessica Weisz is Chief, Client Success Office, at Soapbox. Please visit the website:

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