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Taking Care of Those Taking Care: Engaging Healthcare Employees
Thursday, September 21, 2017
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Kevin Kruse writes in his Forbes article, “The ROI of Employee Engagement in Healthcare,” that engaged healthcare organizations exemplify clear and open communication, a well-articulated purpose and mission, a clear commitment from leadership to create a great workplace, and a strong commitment to community.

We hear much about the need for engagement—that it leads to increased retention levels and employees who are willing to go above and beyond the scope of their responsibilities. All are very important factors to the bottom line. But when it comes to healthcare organizations, engaged employees also mean improved patient experience.

So how do we get there?

According to Jill Christensen, author of the September 2017 bonus issue of TD at Work, “Employee Engagement in Healthcare,” there are four key elements to employee re-engagement strategies.

Get the right person in every chair. That means hiring people who have not only the right skills, but also values that are aligned with those of the company’s. Make sure the organization has a clearly defined job description—this might entail describing not only skills needed from the candidate, but also the culture of the healthcare organization. The right candidate is likely to assimilate into the organization more readily.

Align employee goals. As Christensen writes, “Goal alignment involves ensuring that every person in your organization, from top to bottom, is doing work that supports the organization’s goals.” That is, everyone should be moving toward the same aim; everyone’s work should be adding value. Goal alignment lends itself to employees who feel more engaged.

Create a two-way communication culture. Leaders must be open, transparent, and honest if they hope to have engaged employees. Employees are well aware if something negative is going on around them, and they don’t buy it if all they hear is good news.

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Recognize good work. It is a fundamental human need to be recognized. A simple “thank you” is often enough, if it is specific and genuine.

To get started on your employee engagement journey, create a core team of employees: executive team members, human resources, and internal communications pros. This team will decide what initiatives to undertake.

The next step is to gather baseline data of where your team or organization is now in terms of engagement. There are many tools to help you do this, such as SurveyMonkey or Qualtrics.

Once you have secured those data, create a strategy to move forward. Your core team, using data, can decide which programs to begin first.

Next, conduct a manager town hall. As the adage goes, employees don’t leave organizations, they leave managers. Because of the crucial role they play, managers must have buy-in on strategy and must communicate it to their direct reports. But first, the core engagement team must communicate the importance of doing so to managers.

Now the rubber hits the road: Take time to make sure the strategy is being executed. Are managers keeping engagement front and center in their minds? Are they incorporating it into their work with their direct reports?

As the engagement journey continues, you’ll want to gather follow-up data and, where necessary, correct course.

Re-engaging your most valuable asset—your people—will not only pay off dividends in terms of retention and morale, but also lead to greater patient care, and improved patient experience and satisfaction scores. The healthcare profession is all about caring and connection, and that is, after all, the heart of engagement.

Take a look inside “Employee Engagement in Healthcare.”

About the Author
Patty Gaul is a writer/editor for the Association for Talent Development (ATD).
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