Employee engagement is critical to ensuring a positive working environment, and ultimately helps reduce both employee turnover and lower costs. Understanding why employee engagement is important to your healthcare organization, and tips to improve it will ultimately boost employee productivity.
Employee engagement means making efforts to solidify a workplace culture, enabling team members to feel a part of and valued in the organization. In the healthcare industry, employee engagement has the power to positively affect employees, supervisors, and even patients.
This is because employee engagement is crucial to employee collaboration and creating a genuine caring attitude and environment for patients.
However, research shows that an average of 20 percent of employees in healthcare organizations are disengaged, while 40 percent are merely content rather than actively engaged.
Every healthcare organization has the ability and opportunity to improve employee engagement. There are various strategies that can assist in boosting an employee’s morale as soon as onboarding begins, when setting the tone for workplace culture is most vulnerable.
However, it’s never too late to begin establishing an engaged environment for employees. There are numerous ways to help healthcare professionals feel like they’re part of an active team. When you’re figuring out how to engage employees, you must first understand what engagement is and why it’s important.
Employee engagement is another way of saying that employees are emotionally committed to the organization, its goals, values, and vision because they feel the organization is also committed to them.
This emotional commitment causes employees to genuinely care about the job they’re doing and the organization they’re doing it for, which leads them to use discretionary effort in their everyday tasks.
Discretionary effort means an employee is willing to do more than the bare minimum to ensure the organization is successful. For example, engaged employees are more likely to work overtime or complete tasks outside of their job scope for more than just monetary compensation.
These employees will willingly put forth the extra effort because they want the organization to succeed and believe the organization wants them to succeed as well.
Research shows there are several factors that contribute to overall employee engagement. Employees feel more engaged when they can decide how to perform their job tasks and are given clear objectives and goals to meet. Additionally, employees appreciate opportunities to utilize their skills to their full potential and take initiative when appropriate.
Another fantastic way to contribute to overall enjoyment for employees is to make sure they're aware about new employee initiatives. Consider crafting engaging marketing materials and informative pieces to educate employees about new activities and resources.
Team building also plays an important part in employees’ commitment to the organization. Studies show that employees are more engaged when they are offered a diverse group of team member who respect each other’s input and can communicate with openly and honestly.
Of course, leadership plays an integral part in how a team and individual employees can perform their job. If employees feel supported by their supervisors to perform well and advance with the organization, their engagement increases.
Although it seems like an abstract concept, there are ways to measure employee engagement, which can help healthcare organizations determine just how much change they need to implement with their engagement strategies.
Periodic anonymous surveys allow administrators to gain feedback from their employees without putting them on the spot.
By keeping the surveys anonymous, employees don’t have to be afraid of retaliation for honest, less-than-positive responses.
When employees are committed to their place of work and to the work itself, they will most certainly perform better than employees who are disengaged or merely content.
This because employee engagement contributes to a more positive work environment, which directly influences employee attitude. When employees have positive attitudes toward their work and their organization, they can perform their daily tasks with more commitment and enthusiasm.
This also causes employees to work together better. Engaged employees practice better collaboration and communication skills, which also improves workplace morale.
Furthermore, studies prove that employee engagement is a huge contributor to employee retention, since a strong commitment to the company encourages employees to stay at an organization.
In the healthcare industry, high levels of engagement correlate to more than 89 percent of employee retention as opposed to low levels of engagement that correlate to about 50 percent of retention. This correlation indicates that employee engagement directly affects employee retention.
When hospital employees demonstrate a high level of commitment to their organization, then patients inevitably benefit from the positive work environment. Employee engagement in healthcare ensures that patients are being cared for and treated by dedicated people who know how to work together to do what’s best for them. Refer to the section on patient outcome below to learn more about how engagement improves a patient’s experience.
In the same way employee engagement affects retention, it also affects hospital turnover rates. Currently, healthcare organizations are suffering from high turnover rates that more engagement has the potential to remediate.
Research shows that the turnover rate for first-year hospital employees averages at 30 percent. Numbers for more experienced healthcare professionals is even worse, standing at about 44 percent. Given the statistics mentioned in the sections above, it’s possible that lack of employee engagement is one of the factors contributing to these high turnover rates.
Working in the medical field is full of emotional, psychological and sometimes even physical challenges which are often met with long work hours.
Without employee engagement, it’s easy for employees to succumb to those challenges so they eventually lose their morale and commitment.
Therefore, hospital administrators should actively work to ensure their employees don’t get burnt out. Even if there are other reasons for high turnover ratios, committing to employee engagement gives an organization the confidence that they are doing their part to ensure employees value their mission.
Hospitals’ number one priority is to ensure patients are getting the best health care and treatment possible. To do that, however, hospitals need to have employees who can carry out this mission effectively and conscientiously.
Therefore, employee engagement has the power to influence how hospital employees interact with and treat patients. This isn’t limited to medical care, it also includes the overall patient experience with operations such as wait times, readmissions, and informal interactions amongst workers and patients.
Providing patients with high-quality medical care is one of the most important goals of employee engagement in a hospital or other healthcare facility. When nurses, technicians, doctors and others who are responsible for the direct care of patients feel committed to the organization for which they work, then their attitude positively impacts their ability to provide the best possible care.
In fact, studies show that 85 percent of employees who consider themselves actively engaged in their workplace work better with patients, while only 38 percent of disengaged employees work well with patients.
Improving employee engagement begins with a genuine desire to create a committed and enthusiastic team. It’s not as challenging as it may seem, though. Here are some to strengthen the engagement amongst your healthcare professionals.
1. Start from the get-go. The best time to establish employee engagement is when you’re onboarding. At this point, the employee is starting with a blank slate, and your actions as an employer have the most influence on the employee’s attitude toward the organization. Start off on the right foot by making employees feel welcome and being available for any kind of support they need to succeed at their new position.
2. Invest in your leaders. By taking the time to hire and train great leaders who know how to serve as an example, provide support, motivate a team, and establish a collaborative environment, you are demonstrating that you care about your employees’ experience at work. When you care enough to invest in your leaders, your employees care enough to invest in you.
3. Make the most of regular feedback and recognition. Providing employees with regular feedback makes them aware of the organization’s goals and expectations. Employee engagement begins when employees know exactly where they stand and exactly what they need to do to succeed. After employees grow from their feedback, then recognition makes them feel appreciated and more inclined to continue improving.
4. Give fair compensation. Although hospitals are known for having strict pay scales, providing fair compensation means employees feel like their work is valued. Figure out a strategy for providing fair compensation for all employees so budgets and pay scales are easier to manage.
5. Make work more than just work. You can create a positive work environment by valuing relationships amongst colleagues. As an organization, find opportunities for employees to bond outside of work. For example, have a day where employees can volunteer at a shelter together or have a holiday potluck. Bonding outside of work strengthens collaboration and communication while at work.
Simply put, taking the time to invest in your employees’ satisfaction and sense of security means they’re more likely to take the time to invest in your organization.
Since healthcare requires highly-skilled employees who are dedicated to serving their patients’ well-being, retaining them and keeping them committed to the organization is a top priority for success. Although it takes mindfulness and active effort, allowing employees to collaborate with one another and advance in their career benefits all involved.
Employee engagement is important because when employees feel as though they can grow professionally, then they are more likely to put their best foot forward while also remaining loyal employees.