5 Solutions For Low Employee Engagement In Healthcare Industry (2022)
If you lived through the nightmare that 2020 was, you know that doctors, nurses, and other healthcare workers are nothing short of heroes. However, there is another well-known reality that most healthcare leaders choose to overlook. Employee engagement in healthcare industry is possibly at an all-time low.
If you are thinking about how employee engagement has anything to do with providing quality healthcare, here are a few stats for you:
- According to a study, a small (1%) increase in employee engagement leads to a 3% reduction in hospital-acquired complications. Meanwhile, hospital readmissions were reduced by 7%.
- A Gallup study found that the engagement level of nurses was the number 1 factor in predicting mortality.
- According to a Gallup study, fully engaged and engaged physicians referred 3% more outpatients and 51% more in-patients to the hospital than non-engaged or actively disengaged physicians.
- According to the same study, fully engaged and engaged physicians were 26% more productive than their less engaged counterparts. It amounted to an extra $460,000 in average annual in-patient revenue per physician.
- A Studer Group research found that when employee turnover rates fell below 12%, organizations saw a 1.2-day decrease in-patient hospital stays.
What does engagement mean in healthcare?
Employee engagement in the healthcare industry measures how happy and satisfied healthcare professionals are at work. Highly engaged healthcare workers are more likely to be better caregivers and be loyal to their organization. Meanwhile, disengaged healthcare workers are more likely to be dissatisfied, burned out, and make more mistakes than usual.
How do hospitals increase employee engagement?
1. Quantify engagement
If there's one thing that all employee engagement plans should have in common, it's that you should always start by assessing your organization's current level of engagement.
Knowing where you stand in terms of employee engagement levels does two things:
- It helps you establish a baseline so that, down the line, you can easily quantify the change in the engagement levels.
- Helps you gauge your organization's strengths and weaknesses.
If you have started tracking your company's engagement level, good for you. But it isn't enough. This process needs to be carried out periodically in the long term.
Tracking the degree of employee engagement in your hospital over time will help you better understand the factors influencing job satisfaction. And for measuring and tracking these numbers, we could think of a better tool than employee engagement surveys.
Employee engagement surveys are perhaps the easiest way to get real-time feedback from your workers. However, traditional surveys can have the drawback of being either overly lengthy or dull. It can lead to serious survey fatigue over time, especially for people with limited time, such as healthcare workers.
That is why it is important to put your money and resources into something that we call the employee pulse surveys. Employee pulse surveys are just like employee engagement surveys but better.
Pulse surveys are simple, quick, and rarely take 5 minutes to complete. They are a great alternative to manual surveys, which can be time-consuming. It makes them an ideal tool for gathering effective data, especially when dealing with a workforce that is typically short on time.
With tools like Vantage Pulse, you can do all the above and much more. Explore here or reach out for a free demo to know more.
2. Focus more on patient experience
Here's the thing. The healthcare industry is unlike any other. Whereas in the rest of the industries, commitment is primarily physical, healthcare employees must bring in both physical and emotional commitment.
In fact, a Cornerstone study revealed that:
13% of respondents felt like they were only a "means to an end." Their organization's limited focus on patients had the most negative impact on their engagement.
Thus, to reduce staff turnover and improve employee engagement, healthcare leaders should pay attention to factors such as:
- Focus on quality of patient care. Is the quality of patient care— including facilities, training, employee competence, and the efficiency of operational processes— up to the mark?
- Improve patient outcomes. Are patients happy with the hospital care, including maintaining patient functional status, patient safety, and patient satisfaction?
- Track and measure patient experience. Keeping track of patient satisfaction levels over time and examining the factors that trigger ups and downs in those levels.
3. Prioritize employee safety and well-being
The ultimate aim of every healthcare leader is to enable healthcare professionals to be better caregivers.
Like in any other sector, healthcare professionals have the right to feel physically and psychologically safe in the workplace. And just like any other workplace, a hospital can also harbor a toxic work environment. According to a Harvard School of Public Health study, employee engagement strongly correlates with employee safety.
Highly engaged healthcare professionals can make a huge difference in the quality of patient care and patient safety. But for that to happen, a big shift must happen. From focusing only on patient health and safety, we must also start focusing on the well-being of our healthcare professionals.
4. Invest in succession planning
An NCHL study reported that:
When a healthcare system in New Jersey developed a succession plan, they improved engagement scores so dramatically that they were ranked first by HR Solutions International for employee engagement, employee focus, and job satisfaction.
Let's face the truth. Healthcare workers are overworked and overstressed. Most times, tasks come on an emergency basis which means most workers have to work overtime to cover such emergencies.
While emergencies are inevitable in this industry, healthcare leaders can devise a solid succession plan to ensure that their employees do not burn out due to working long hours.
Succession planning is a strategy that allows leaders to ensure that specific roles and responsibilities are transferred to a specific employee or group in an emergency. This, essentially, does three things:
- Healthcare workers have a clear idea of who will be responsible for a piece of work in case of emergencies.
- The stress of working lengthy shifts is reduced when responsibilities are strategically divided.
- Healthcare workers can finally focus on one or two areas of specialization. It also ensures that the patient care quality improves.
Implementing a strong succession plan for the healthcare industry is one of the most effective strategies to improve employee engagement.
5. Reward and recognize winning behaviors
Healthcare leaders should remember one major principle. Never take the work of any healthcare professional for granted. However, it does happen, and we mostly consider their jobs to be just jobs.
Appreciation is difficult to come by in the healthcare sector, especially if you are not a doctor or physician.
The success of every high-performing team lies in every team member knowing their worth. When team members are shown how valuable they are, they tend to go above and beyond for the job. Healthcare professionals are no different.
When you steadily build a culture of appreciation, you will see an obvious increase in engagement levels among your team members. Here's how:
- Ensure that every team member, despite how minuscule their role was, gets their due recognition publicly.
- Invest in a peer-to-peer recognition program. The impact of recognition increases dramatically when it comes from one's peers.
- Recognition is the most effective when there is a healthy mix of monetary and non-monetary appreciation.
- A culture of appreciation dictates that recognition should be given frequently, timely, and behavioral-based.
- Invest in simple-to-use rewards and recognition solutions. We highly recommend Vantage Rewards since it is perfect for those organizations who want an accessible and fast platform for their busy workforces.
The healthcare sector isn't for the faint of heart, which makes healthcare professionals all the more impressive. However, doing this kind of work can take a serious toll on these employees' mental and physical health. When you add in the long hours, erratic schedule, and emotional toll, you've got a bunch of dissatisfied employees on your hands.
Thus, the goal of having highly engaged employees may appear difficult. But if healthcare leaders follow the best practices listed above, they may be able to achieve it more quickly.