Healthcare organizations have faced numerous challenges with the COVID-19 pandemic and staffing shortages. A survey from Mental Health America showed that many healthcare workers are feeling stressed and overworked. 93% of healthcare workers surveyed said they were experiencing stress, 86% reported experiencing anxiety, 77% reported frustration, 76% reported exhaustion and burnout, and 75% said they were overwhelmed.
Even before the pandemic, a Willis Towers Watson study showed that only 44% of healthcare workers are highly engaged.
Why should healthcare organizations care about these numbers? In other types of businesses, employee engagement can have an impact on the bottom line, but in healthcare, employee engagement can not only affect a healthcare organization’s financial performance but also the patient experience, including safety and quality of care. A Gallup poll found that a higher engagement level of nurses resulted in lower patient mortality.
How can employee engagement be improved? In this post, we share five ideas that healthcare leaders can implement to help improve engagement.
Prioritize Learning and Development
Prioritizing learning and development (L&D) opportunities for healthcare staff can have many benefits for both the organization and the employees. Making education a priority shows employees that the organization values them by helping them gain new skills and possibly advance their careers. Employees who feel valued typically have higher engagement rates and overall morale.
Offering L&D opportunities can also have a measurable impact on employee retention which can then result in higher levels of care for patients.
Create a Positive Workplace Where Communication is Key
A warm and friendly workplace that focuses on respect and teamwork positively affects employee engagement. A positive workplace is also one that fosters effective and open communication. If employees don’t understand what’s expected of them, or they feel like they can’t easily talk with their supervisor or co-workers, their level of engagement will plummet. Make sure there are ways for employees to share ideas and concerns all the time – not just once a year in an employee survey.
Communication is especially important in healthcare settings where effective communication among team members can have very positive or serious negative consequences for patients and their family members.
Improve Internal Communications
As mentioned above, communication is the key to having highly engaged employees. Studies have shown a link between an organization’s internal communication and the level of employee engagement. As one would expect, when there is little or poor internal communication, engagement is low. Communication within an organization is essential for sharing important information, the organization’s mission and goals, and general news. Without effective communication, employees don’t know what’s expected of them and they can’t effectively contribute to the organization’s goals.
When employees feel like they are not being kept in the loop, or they feel like their suggestions and concerns are not being heard by their supervisor, they often become disengaged and unhappy at work. This leads to turnover and likely a negative patient experience.
If you’re interested in learning more about creating a culture of recognition, click here to read more.
Set Specific Goals and Give Feedback
Employees want to feel connected to their work – that what they are doing matters, especially in a healthcare setting. Understanding their goals and getting regular and consistent feedback helps employees feel that connection. If employees don’t know what’s expected of them and never hear how they are performing, they will think that their work is not important and will quickly become unengaged.
Setting specific goals, sharing those with employees, and providing ongoing feedback is essential to keeping employees engaged in their work.
If you’re setting goals and giving feedback, you will likely have a lot of happy and successful employees. So the next step is to make sure these employees are acknowledged and rewarded in some way. For those organizations that want to improve morale among employees, providing rewards and recognition will get you there. Recognizing employees in a public way shows employees they are appreciated and also showcases the goals and values of the organization to all employees.
These five ideas can help healthcare leaders improve engagement. If you need guidance creating a comprehensive employee engagement plan that will increase employee engagement AND patient satisfaction, give us a call. We have helped many healthcare organizations use recognition more strategically to grow caregiver engagement and improve the patient experience and HCAHPS.