having been in management when hospitals went to this kind of thing i can tell you exactly what is going on based on what you have written.
first of all, your hospital is wanting to make a definite stand within the medical community that the doctors (and the patients) should consider coming to your hospital for their hospitalization and other healthcare services. the more patients your hospital gets under it's roof, the more money they will have coming in. you can thank medicare for creating payment programs that have pretty much whittled payment for healthcare services down to the absolute nubs. it is forcing hospitals to budget every single dollar they spend very, very carefully so they don't go belly up.
secondly, patient satisfaction (or customer satisfaction) while sounding disdainful to a lot of nursing staff is a very real world answer to increasing the number of patients coming to a facility for their health care needs. the retail industry, in particular, has long been aware that offering courteous, friendly customer service increases their sales. healthcare has become a retail item, believe it or not. in some markets (cities) people have a choice of facilities they can be patients in. your hospital has decided they want that business. one of the things they are focusing on that directly affects you nurses is customer satisfaction. there are a number of companies that do customer satisfaction studies for healthcare facilities. i can't think of the names of them, but these surveys can be accessed through your state chapter of the american hospital association. consumers in the know actually look at these reports to chose hospitals they are going to go to! we looked at them when we were looking for a cancer center for my mother's treatment.
third, the thing i know something about is that disciplinary action is probably being built into this program your hospital is undertaking. you may not have been told that, but i smell it. that fact that they had you all sign a form that you were committed to it gives personnel proof that you understood and were made aware that "high performance" was going to be expected. don't be surprised if you are all introduced to some sort of evaluation tool (form) that assesses your level of "performance". you will probably be told about that in your individual meetings with your supervisor. as you said, "the low performers will be given a choice to basically shape up or ship out." i'm going to suggest to you (because i saw this done in one facility i worked) that customers and employees are going to be able to report those who have bad attitudes, promote gossip and chaos, backstab, are snotty and nasty, deliberately sabotage the work of others, refuse to be part of the team effort, etc. your hospital is going to get rid of these employees. first, they are going to give them the opportunity to shape up. this, then, gives the hospital complete legitimacy to fire them it they do not follow these additional performance standards.
we can laugh, sneer and poke all the fun over this we want, but most hospitals that do this are looking to get rid of their lousy, bad attituded employees despite whatever level of training and expertise they have. and that is going to include the doctors as well. this program they are instituting is going to give them the power they need to do that. in most places it's difficult to fire an employee who just has a bad attitude, but not under the program your hospital is putting into operation. this is serious, so please take it seriously. snap at someone in another department on the telephone and they can write you up for it and you could well find yourself fired over it if the hospital can show you have a pattern of this kind of behavior. it only takes two or more reports against you and you are out the door. bad attitudes, gossiping and backstabbing are very hard issues to discipline employees on as they don't really involve your actually job duties. now, your supervisors are being given a way to address these issues with a program that has some bite to it. where i worked it was mostly us managers who filled out these reporting forms, but we also made them available to all the staff although most never filled any out unless another employee insulted them in such a way that it made them angry enough to want to report them.
you are going to have to smile, be courteous at all times and have a positive attitude. for those who can't do that--bye-bye. and, under this program, it won't be that hard for the hospital to do. hospitals are huge employers now and as such can demand this of all it's employees, including the nurses. so, watch what you say and do. you are now going to be expected to give superb customer service. if you make a mistake at least do it with a smile and have a positive attitude about correcting your mistake. that is how you survive under this kind of regime. you have to look at it this way. otherwise--there's the door. you can either go willing or they will have (and have probably planned for) a way to fire you.
in one of the facilities i worked, the employees nicknamed our mandatory seminars on this "charm school". we got a nicely produced booklet explaining the program to us as well as signed the paper. however, let me tell you that in the 15 or 20 years this program has been in operation at that hospital, the hospital services there have grown by leaps and bounds while several other hospitals in the same local area have gone to the dogs and one had to close its doors. the business people who consult with administrators and advise how these customer service programs be set up know what they are doing. and, like any other business, the bottom line is always profit. that profit will be used to buy better equipment, enlarge the facility and perhaps, even increase your salary. if you want to work for a place that isn't interested in the bottom line, go work for the government, military or some volunteer group. remember that we do live in a capitalistic society. this is one of the prices that we have to pay for that. you don't have to like it, but at least keep it to yourself. if i were you i wouldn't openly dis this program at work as you will surely end up on the chopping block.
your comment that "i also am feeling like i don't even want to work for this healthcare system anymore" is one of the kinds of responses this program is designed to elicit from someone who doesn't want to comply. they are counting on some people like you who will save them from doing their dirty work and just walk away. others will fight against it tooth and claw to no avail--they will be fired, for expressing negativity to this new program if nothing else. and, please, i'm not meaning to be harsh to you, but if you quit it won't matter. new employees will be hired and their hiring will be based on a commitment to these performance standards. they will commit to it because they want the job. eventually, everyone left will be committed to this program. are you prepared to give up your job at a place you sound like you have liked working at? can it be so hard for you to follow this new plan which is going to make your working conditions better in the long run? if not, then i guess you know what you have to do, don't you? this is not going to blow over. your hospital administration put down big bucks to hire and contract with the consulting firm who has designed this performance program for them. it is not going to go away. there is nothing you or even a group of you is going to be able to do to stop it. the next few months are going to be painful if you stay on because you are going to see some people you think of as friends leaving or being put out the door. change is hard on everyone because of it's uncertain nature. but, let me point out that one of the things nurses deal with more than most other professions is change. so, we have it in us to survive something like this. i would predict that one of the first firings or exits is going to be someone in management. they are usually the first to go if they don't show a committment to the program because they have to sell it to the rest of the employees.
by the way, the timing for introducing this program was not done randomly. it is the holidays and people are less likely to up and make a drastic change in their employment during this time of the year. this was factored into the overall plan that was developed. employees are more likely to accept something like this being shoved down their throats when they are facing holiday expenses. the hospital has been told that right off the bat they may lose a fair number of employees, so starting the program around this time of the year limits those numbers a bit. these consultants who develop these programs are very, very smart.