Today something happened that just impressed the crud out of me. This afternoon I went for my third (and final) orientation for my newest job as a receptionist at a small regional hospital. I wasn’t all that thrilled about this. I mean, I’d already been through two days of network orientation, two days of on-the-job training, and my first official day on the job, so making me drive out for yet another orientation seemed like overkill. I’m only working one day a week as a receptionist – how much orientation do I really need? Plus it meant rearranging my hours again right after taking an entire week off of my other jobs. While my various bosses have been nothing but awesomely flexible and understanding, I felt like this was pushing things. But it was required, and since I’m actually working for HR, skipping it did not seem like a viable option. Plus, I’d arranged to get my Measles, Mumps & Rubella shot at the same time, so that made it extra worthwhile.
When I got there, it seemed like it would be another hour of redundant training. We were talking about using the company’s intranet, the minutiae of exactly how one fills out one’s timecard, and more information about the benefits that I’m not eligible for (though it seems that everyone is included in the retirement plan, regardless of how many hours they work, so without realizing it, for the first time in my life I’m putting something away for my retirement). Anyway, I was half listening while I browsed through the brochures on Corporate Integrity, and the help available should any of us discover that we had a problem abusing drugs, while thinking wistfully of the knitting in my bag at my feet and wondering if it would be too noticeable if I just snuck it out and knit a few stitches.
Then, halfway through, the President of the hospital came in. Our trainer had said that he might be stopping by, so this wasn’t unexpected. I was thinking that he would pop in, do the usual glad-handing and “hope you like it here, work hard!” stuff, and then pop back out again to whatever he’s usually doing on a Wednesday afternoon. But what happened was that he came in, sat in one of the chairs at the table, and waited until the employee health nurse finished telling everyone how to report blood exposure incidents. Once she was done, he took over the training. He introduced himself to all of us, had each of us introduce ourselves to him, and spent probably twenty minutes to half an hour talking to us about teamwork, service, and the deep importance of our jobs. And it’s not like there were a lot of us. We were the six newest employees in the hospital: one nurse, two phlebotomists, a guy who’s working for housekeeping, a woman who’s going to distribute food trays, and myself, a receptionist. But he made sure that each of us knew that he thought our jobs, and even more, our attitudes about our jobs, were very important.
This impresses me more than I can say. I know that when I went to my network orientation, they spent the entire first day talking about ethics and service. I was impressed by their sincerity, but I know there’s a big gap between the fuzzy-feeling ideals that are presented in trainings and in-services, and how things actually work day to day. I compared it to the orientation I got for my current job (fifteen minutes filling out the tax forms, and being handed an ethics handbook that I don’t think I ever read, plus a photocopied sheet telling me who to call if I ever got sexually harassed), and wondered what our organization would look like if we had that sort of training. But it didn’t impress me like this: the President of the hospital sitting down at a conference table with his six newest employees, most of us in pretty menial jobs, telling us that he personally thought that what we do and how we do it is deeply important.