Calgon Take Me Away!

I may be dating myself here, but do you remember that old commercial from the 1970s? It showed a mom utterly exhausted from dealing with the house, her boss, the traffic, her kids, the dog…

So she looks skyward, arms outstretched and exclaims, “Calgon, take me away!”

While it was a great marketing tactic for the makers of Calgon, it wasn’t really about the woman wanting to take a bath. What she really wanted was a temporary reprieve. A respite where she could unwind and de-stress for a little while so she could be ready to face the world again.

Isn’t that what we all need sometimes?

I would argue that for caregivers in hospitals or health care environments, the need for a “Calgon moment” is critical.  A 2014 study shows that nearly 70% of health care workers report high levels of stress in their jobs. More than other professions, they experience high levels of daily stress while caring for patients. But while they’re at work, who’s taking care of them?

At Disney, cast members (employees) do not eat meals or take breaks in areas where there are visitors, or guests. Instead, there is an area backstage – away from guests – where they can have a quick cup of coffee, take a break, or eat a meal in a space set aside specifically for cast members. Clearly, Disney is in no way as stressful an environment as a hospital or other care facility; however, the need for employees to decompress and recharge is just as important.

Florida Hospital has a great example of a space set aside as their “Employee Retreat.” It’s away from patient areas. It’s quiet and welcoming.

And there are even acknowledgments of employee achievements on the wall. An excellent way to build employee pride!

So what’s it like at your hospital or care facility? Are your employees begging for their own “Calgon moments”? Is there a dedicated space for your employees to take a small break, away from patients and the busy-ness of their shift? If there isn’t, how can you be sure they’re getting the time they need to decompress so they can return alert and refreshed?

If you have a great employee break area, I’d love to see! Send me pictures here in the comments or tweet me @jakepoore on Twitter.

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