Every organization needs engaged employees, probably none more so than in the healthcare or therapy setting. Patients don’t want to receive care from employees who feel disconnected from their work. A facility can’t afford to expose those patients to caregivers who are burned out, “having a bad day” or who just don’t feel engaged with the organization’s commitment to excellence in care. There’s simply too much at stake in these situations.
On the other hand, genuinely engaged employees provide the kind of quality care — therapy or otherwise — that satisfied patients can’t stop talking about. These employees’ on-the-job performances can inspire greater engagement and commitment from their co-workers and, ultimately, raise the facility’s profile as a place where patients want to go to receive care.
Recognizing the critical value of engagement, here are four ways to spur a stronger sense of drive and dedication in your employees, in healthcare and a general business setting:
1. Find out what people are thinking.
Generally, the most effective and time-sensitive method of determining employee attitudes is by conducting a brief, easy-to-navigate online survey. Questions in the survey should revolve around how well employees understand and relate to:
- The organization’s mission
- Opportunities to grow in their careers
- The supply and quality of technology and other resources needed to do their jobs
- Their assessment of the value of current compensation and benefits
To obtain desired results, it’s often recommended to ensure that responses are anonymous — or, at least, emphasize a “no retaliation” policy. Without truthful answers to your survey questions, the exercise is meaningless.
You can also evaluate the level of engagement during your one-on-ones with staff or even when they simply stop to chat with you in the hall or outside a patient’s room. Beyond that, it’s often beneficial to connect with your team members on social media, monitoring (without adding “comments” or some other response) what they have to say about the workplace.
2. Make gratitude and acknowledgement part of the daily routine.
Once you have a sense of employees’ attitudes, it may be time to implement some changes in the way they’re treated. Of course, a competitive salary and benefits package is a key element in maintaining engagement, but there are many other incentives and non-monetary benefits to consider.
Managers play a critically important role in employee engagement. Those who rarely pause in their jobs to say, “Thanks for doing such a great job with a specific task or patient,” are missing a valuable opportunity to boost engagement. By contrast, a brief handwritten note left in the employee’s workstation, expressing appreciation for his or her outstanding work, can achieve wonders. Still another approach involves acknowledging the employee’s contribution in an email that’s copied to the manager’s boss and/or Human Resources.
3. Train managers to focus on engagement.
Managers have full-time jobs supervising their departments or activities. But without engaged employees, the overall performance of those departments will suffer. Managers can receive training to enhance their supervisory skills (including better listening, designing more efficient action plans, etc.). Certainly, any managers who display negative behavior toward employees should undergo immediate training to correct this tendency. Nurses and other healthcare workers have enough stress in their lives without having an unreasonable manager breathing down their necks.
4. Cultivate an upbeat, supportive culture.
Regardless of the type of business, employees thrive in a positive work environment. Wherever possible, seek opportunities for greater collaboration between both individuals and teams. Host workday or off-site social activities where people can get to better know each other in a “fun” atmosphere. Encourage employees to nominate co-workers for “employee of the month” or similar honors. Look for ways to boost the feeling among the team that “we’re all in this together.”
Perhaps most importantly, demonstrate a clear-cut policy to grow your talent from within. Notify employees of open positions before advertising them online. Support their efforts to develop their skills through webinars and other training programs. Offer mentorship programs to accelerate their leadership development.
Employees who see a future with the organization are more engaged and dedicated to caring for their patients, their customers and their co-workers.
Lisa Orlando is Senior Vice President, Marketing and Strategy of the Invo Family of Companies, which includes Invo-Progressus — a provider of employment and professional development for therapists. The company connects qualified candidates with job opportunities across the United States.