Understand how we got here — and how to move forward.


Case Study

Novant Health-NHRMC’s Resiliency Governance Council

10 Minute Read


The challenge

To support frontline staff during the pandemic, most health care providers rapidly multiplied the number of employee well-being and resilience resources. While these initiatives were essential, they were often uncoordinated and focused only on trauma response—while other employee needs, such as social and financial health, were unmet.

The organization

Novant Health-New Hanover Regional Medical Center (NH-NHRMC) is an 800–bed hospital with outpatient facilities located in Wilmington, North Carolina. In February 2021, New Hanover Regional Medical Center joined Novant Health, an integrated network that operates across four states.

The approach

In 2019, NH-NHRMC’s team reviewed their existing resilience initiatives and identified areas where employees needed additional support. Based on this work, the CHRO defined five elements of employee resilience: spiritual, physical, mental, social, and financial. The system’s HR and nursing departments then created and led a resilience-specific shared governance council with committees assigned to address each element.

The result

NH-NHRMC leveraged their council structure during the pandemic to amplify and distribute community donations, along with providing staff emotional and mental support. Moving forward, the council will refocus around long-term resilience needs to redefine NH-NHRMC’s employer value proposition as a best-in-class supporter of employee well-being.



How Novant Health-New Hanover Regional Medical Center improved employee well-being through a frontline-driven governance council

In 2020, Novant Health-New Hanover Regional Medical Center created a shared governance council to address five key elements of resilience: spiritual, physical, mental, social, and financial. The goal of the council is to identify emerging employee well-being needs and curate a comprehensive set of resources to address them.


Three steps

Novant Health-New Hanover Regional Medical Center’s leaders identified three key steps to creating their council:

  • Step

    Create a comprehensive definition of employee well-being

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  • Step

    Assign a council to address each element of well-being

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  • Step

    Solicit frontline staff feedback on resilience efforts

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Early efforts from the resiliency governance council

NH-NHRMC’s early resiliency efforts focused on helping staff mitigate the impact of Covid-19. In addition to offering spiritual and emotional support, the governance council acted as a central hub for equitably distributing and amplifying the impact of community donations. For example, the council organized the following events to improve staff morale during 2020:

  • Gratitude Lane: Committee leaders partnered with community organizations to serve over 1,200 meals to staff and families for 10 weeks
  • 12 days of holiday cheer: 12-days of meals, mental health activities, and appreciation for frontline staff in different units.
  • Letters for staff: Hundreds of letter from community members, Boy Scouts, and Girl Scouts delivered to staff.
  • Classic car parade and civilian flyover: organized by local car and flying clubs.

How NH-NHRMC defines success in the peri-pandemic era

HR and nursing leaders set expectations early with the NH-NHRMC C-suite that the resilience council wasn’t likely to see a short-term ROI. Rather than tying the council’s success specifically to cost reduction via improvements in turnover or engagement, leaders positioned the work as an investment in the broader NH-NHRMC employee value proposition. In other words, all work to support employee well-being would be foundational to differentiating NH-NHRMC in the market as an employer committed to meeting staff expectations around resilience in the future.

Moving forward, the resiliency governance council will refocus to align with Novant Health’s work and address long-term employee wellness needs.

For us to deliver world class care, we need to take world class care of each other.
-David Long, Director of Spiritual Care, Novant Health-New Hanover Regional Medical Center

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