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How Healthcare Leaders Can Maintain Engagement in Times of Change
Friday, January 27, 2017
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The Trump Administration will likely bring changes to the Affordable Care Act (ACA), resulting in more transformation for the healthcare industry in the coming years. A recent feature from Gallup explores how constant changes can adversely affect two critical items of employee engagement: 1) knowing work expectations and 2) connecting with the company's mission. 

There is little doubt that unclear expectations cause anxiety and confusion. This is true for any industry or business, but healthcare is currently suffering from acute uncertainty. “As hospital leaders grapple to implement large-scale changes while cutting costs, clarifying employees' expectations while also connecting change with the organization's mission is even more vital,” write Gallup analysts Kolawole Mudele and Becky McCarville. 

Through qualitative research sessions across a number of healthcare organizations, Gallup has identified three key employee concerns that hospital leaders need to address as they navigate changes in their industry:

  1. Why is my company changing the way we have always operated?
  2. What role will I play in the change process?
  3. How will the change affect me? 

According to Gallup research, there is a distinct relationship between high engagement levels and confidence in a company's future. “If engagement drops because of mismanaging employees' feelings of fear and uncertainty, the company can be at risk for lost productivity, negative patient experiences, and flight of top talent,” explain Mudele and McCarville. 

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So what can healthcare organizations do differently to improve performance and increase engagement? 

To balance the mission of medicine with margin (and retain top performers), Gallup says that “leaders need to focus on their people and address their employees' most basic needs through communication and support.” Gallup has found that leaders of top healthcare systems communicate the need for change as it relates first to the overall business, and second to every individual within the organization. ”This information and communication strategy should help allay employees' fears of the future and keep them from leaving,” add Mudele and McCarville. 

Gallup also advocates forming a strong commitment to the community: “This strategy allows employees to live their mission by supporting the health and wellness of their communities, and allows community members to see evidence that the healthcare organization values patient outcomes.” 

Bottom line: in times of uncertainty, healthcare organizations should provide credible, continual, and personalized communication about mission and purpose to build employee engagement.

For more insight, check out the complete feature on the Gallup website

About the Author

Ryann K. Ellis is an editor for the Association of Talent Development (ATD). She has been covering workplace learning and performance for ATD (formerly the American Society for Training & Development) since 1995. She currently manages ATD's Community of Practice blogs, as well as ATD's government-focused magazine, The Public Manager. Contact her at rellis@td.org. 

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