In the field of healthcare, you often hear about patient engagement. Getting patients engaged in their own healthcare is viewed as an integral part of positive patient outcomes.
But what about healthcare employee engagement?
Even though many practice managers don’t see employee engagement as a priority, recent studies have actually found that employee engagement matters a lot, not just for healthcare employees, but patients as well. In fact, a recent Johns Hopkins study found that more than a quarter-million deaths in U.S. hospitals each year are due to medical errors, making it the third-leading cause of deaths in the country!
The good news is that Gallup found that increasing employee engagement resulted in a strong correlation between absenteeism, staff turnover, and mortality rates. Simply put, a lack of engagement of healthcare workers is deadly.
So what exactly is employee engagement? Many confuse employee happiness with employee engagement. However, the former can be a result of the latter.
Employee engagement is the level of personal connection an employee has with their workplace. Happy employees may be satisfied at work, but engaged employees are committed to the organization’s mission and values, resulting in a huge impact on team performance and the organization as a whole. Some of those benefits for the healthcare industry specifically include:
- Higher patient satisfaction rates
- Increased patients safety
- Improved quality of care
- Lower patient mortality
- Lower rates of malpractice claims
Sounds pretty good, right? Now hopefully your employee engagement strategy only needs some tweaking, rather than having to use a crash cart on it. Either way, here are four ideas to help improve healthcare employee engagement.
One of the biggest impediments to employee engagement is poor internal communication. Many managers forget that listening is a two-way street and don’t have a true listening culture within the workplace. When employees feel like their concerns or feedback isn’t being heard by leadership, it can result in disengagement and dissatisfaction at work, resulting in higher turnover and worse patient outcomes.
To resolve this issue, leadership should routinely conduct employee engagement surveys and then create an action plan to address issues and feedback. These internal surveys can provide valuable insights, but by taking the time to identify issues and resolve them, you can build real trust within the organization.
Don’t underestimate the power of recognition. Not only can it positively impact staff motivation and productivity, but it can increase employee retention rates. However, without consistent recognition, employees can begin to feel under-appreciated, or worse, invisible.
To solve this issue, set up an employee recognition program that encourages employees to thank or spotlight peers for their heroic actions or hard work. Make sure that you encourage not only manager-to-staff recognition but peer-to-peer as well.
Listening and recognition only go so far, however. If you want to boost employee morale, strong support, and mentorship can make all the difference. Not only can it boost how employees feel about their work in general, but by improving everyone’s skills and knowledge, you can also create better patient outcomes. Coaching and peer support programs can also lead to strong professional relationships and happier employees overall. If you decide to set up a peer support or mentorship program, make sure that you measure the success through surveys and one-on-one feedback sessions.
Another way to improve employee engagement and satisfaction with their work is to provide opportunities for learning and development. The most immediate impact is, of course, better patient outcomes, but it can also decrease employee turnover. Consider offering ongoing job training and leadership training for managers and supervisors.
While healthcare workers are driven by a need to help others, this doesn’t always translate to a strong level of commitment to the organization they work for. And this lack of commitment leads to disengagement. Always keep your organization’s mission front and center. This is a central part of creating a strong workplace culture. Give your employees examples of how your organization is making a difference to help them feel more connected to your purpose.
Keep Culture at Your Heart
Remember, a strong workplace culture has a multitude of benefits including better productivity, increased satisfaction rates, lower attrition rates, and overall increased employee happiness. While fostering higher employee engagement can be challenging at times, it is well worth the effort. Need help determining your cultural style and finding candidates who align with your organization? Try the Workzinga Culture Alignment Assessment! The hiring assessment designed to objectively measure culture!