The overarching goal for healthcare organizations is to deliver patient care that heals and saves lives. With advances in technology and a highly skilled workforce to deliver exceptional patient care, healthcare organizations also need a highly engaged workforce that is productive and committed, in order to reduce turnover and gain a higher patient satisfaction. In fact, in a study conducted by Gallup of 200 hospitals, it was found that the engagement level of nurses was the number one variable correlating to reduced patient mortality, even more important than the number of nurses per patient. In other words, patient outcomes improve when employees in healthcare are engaged with their job.
While it can be challenging to tackle employee engagement in healthcare, it is a realistic and achievable goal. The key is to focus not on engaging those that are disengaged, but to focus any efforts on improving the engagement of those who already are engaged. There are three ways you can begin to increase employee engagement in your organization:
- Deploy Employee Engagement Assessments and Use the Data to Make Changes
- Provide Training for Leaders
- Create Opportunities for Mentorship and Coaching for New Employees
Now, let’s discuss these in more detail.
1. Deploy Employee Engagement Assessments and Use the Data to Make Changes
The data and results these assessments show have the potential to identify and execute improvements related to employee engagement. However, the issue is often too much measurement with too little action. To highlight this point, 80% of executives say high engagement (the employee experience) is critical to their organization, yet only 22% have a plan on how to improve it. If healthcare employees are to feel that their opinions are valued and it was not a waste of their time, actionable steps must be taken.
2. Provide Leadership Training
According to a study conducted by Gallup, leaders account for at least 70% of the variance in team engagement. So while the importance of technical skill programs is not to be underestimated, a great deal of the patient and employee engagement has a human element involved. By training leaders with people skills, such as communication, conflict management, and collaboration, they are more likely to be successful for their employees and patients. These skills are also important so healthcare leaders can work through any challenging situations and provide the best customer service to their patients.
3. Create Opportunities for Mentorship and Coaching for New Employees
The most engaged nurses have only been on the job less than six months. In those months they are enrolled in a carefully crafted onboarding program and are just beginning to familiarize themselves with the culture and the job. When this time comes to an end, engagement begins to fall.
Counteract this with a program that gives them coaching, networking, and mentoring opportunities. When employees in healthcare are paired with people that have a track record of success, they can learn valuable lessons about the nuances of the job and the organization they are just beginning to work for. Mentorship also allows for further on-the-job observation and in-the-moment coaching so questions or challenges can be handled effectively and efficiently.
For healthcare employees, excessive or unpredictable overtime, a stressful workload, and lack of workplace flexibility can all contribute to low engagement. Though you can increase employee engagement in healthcare, improve retention rates, and improve patient outcomes, by starting with these three things.