|If an organisation wants to be able to perform in a crisis, it needs to be prepared. At the LNS, just as everywhere else, no one knew until the beginning of 2020 that COVID-19 would change the world – and with it of course work at the LNS itself. Nevertheless, the team was prepared for the unforeseeable – not least thanks to the ‘Together LNS’ value system.
“When, at the end of January 2020, the very first signs pointed towards a pandemic, everything that is usually called normality began to falter worldwide”, recalls LNS Director Prof. Dr Friedrich Mühlschlegel. “In such situations, it is all too human at first to hold on to one’s habits and close one’s eyes to the unknown and hope it goes away overnight. Whilst this is happening, in parallel, all efforts must be combined quickly and concrete measures introduced – and I am very pleased to say we succeeded in doing just that. Together LNS helped the LNS to operate as a values-driven, high-standard, transparent partnership”.
According to Friedrich Mühlschlegel, what helped was the fact that ‘Together LNS’ was a value system that had already been introduced and that staff at all levels already lived by before COVID-19: “‘Together LNS’ is much more than just a vague philosophy. It is a common foundation of concrete values that guide us every day as health professionals and as people. At the beginning of the pandemic especially, it also served us as a reliable source of guidance in what was a very unpredictable situation.”
In retrospect, he sees the months from February to April 2020 as particularly crucial in this context. Things became very challenging for the LNS as a whole, as well as for each individual employee: “From February onwards, it was clear that the pandemic would not pass Luxembourg by. For us, as one of the leading players in the national health system, this meant that we had to prepare for a lot of work – and also reinvent ourselves to some extent.”
Friedrich Mühlschlegel adds that it was precisely in this process of adaptation to a fast-changing environment that the value system that had been gradually developed over the previous two years was of great avail: “‘Together LNS’ was, after all, intended as part of a kind of redefinition and was accordingly approached with the long term in mind. In 2018, we initiated the first steps at management and head of department level, and then brought the employees on board in 2019 to jointly establish binding values. These then helped us grow as a team during the crisis in 2020.”
Trust, Teamwork and Respect; Professionalism, Transparency and Excellence: these are the six values of the LNS, and they serve as a beacon for the entire team, which has grown up to 363 employees during 2020. Together, these highly skilled people from 20 countries ensure that the laboratory can provide excellent health services to the people of Luxembourg. Health experts are just as much a part of this as lawyers, finance professionals, or hygiene and logistics specialists.
Friedrich Mühlschlegel comments: “With COVID-19, all of us at the LNS were put to the test in several respects. As healthcare professionals, we were on the very front line from the very beginning, but we also had to switch to crisis mode very quickly as an organisation in March 2020. The fact that we were able to manage all of this successfully was also a result of our value system. Thanks to the LNS’s strategy, we were able to take advantage of the crisis and take the step from professionalism to true excellence.”
Friedrich Mühlschlegel believes that his team’s ‘COVID-19 Fighter’ “brand” also contributed to this. The LNS team took this “code name” right from the start and interpreted it in a very creative way: “When our crisis team began its work, the question arose as to how further initiatives could be rolled out to foster a sustainable team spirit in this context. The result was a mixture of interactions among individuals and the creation of a common identity.”
“Lunchtime video chats, for example, allowed for those interactions, and a visual that quickly became popular provided that common identity,” adds Frédérique Theisen, Communication Manager at the LNS. “Since many colleagues worked from home for weeks and months, one goal of the COVID-19 Fighter initiative was to avoid the danger of long-term social distancing. This was the main focus of our internal communication. Our visual, in turn, became a bit of a “cult item” as a sticker outside the LNS as well, and was also used to spice up our vans, our social media profiles and various other gadgets. This is probably why the campaign was intensively covered in the media.”
According to Friedrich Mühlschlegel, the deliberately lively design is one of the things that contributed to this cult status: “Every single employee of the LNS is certainly on the one hand an essential part of the Luxembourg health system, but also on the other simply a human being. With our COVID-19 Fighter campaign, we brought both together – and thus created a little bit of light-heartedness, which is particularly important in difficult times.” Friedrich Mühlschlegel concludes: “Clinical excellence, teaching, training, research – it’s the LNS way.”
Download the LNS Annual Report 2020: https://lns.lu/publication/annual-report-2020/