Do you know how engaged your healthcare employees are? Do you know about the link between employee engagement and patient satisfaction?
If you don’t, you might also be unaware of a host of run-on problems that can arise when engagement is low. When employees are highly engaged in hospital and healthcare organizations, there are many benefits. Not only does productivity increase, there are savings efficiencies, better patient outcomes, reduced mistakes and you can see your hospital ratings increase.
What is employee engagement?
Employee engagement is a term used to describe the connection that an employee has with their workplace – including their team, the job they do, the company culture and the company itself. There is a clear link between employee engagement and productivity and wellbeing.
Engaged employees are dedicated to their work and enthusiastic about it too. They’re more likely to go above and beyond to help their team and the organization as a whole to succeed and meet its goals. They are more likely to report higher levels of job satisfaction and remain with their employer and not seek employment elsewhere, and will recommend the organization as a great place to work to family and friends.
Employees who are disengaged have low levels of morale, are likely to spread negativity to other team members, have higher levels of absenteeism and presenteeism, are less productive with poor job performance and more likely to make mistakes.
The relationship between employee satisfaction and hospital patient experiences
Hospitals and healthcare organizations all have a goal of delivering excellent patient care and outcomes. There is a strong relationship between employee engagement and the healthcare quality received by patients. And there’s a lot of research to back this up.
A Gallup study found that when nurses aren’t engaged, there are adverse outcomes in terms of patient mortality and complications.
According to research by Press Ganey, employee turnover that is caused by disengaged employees comes at a steep cost compared with other sectors. In addition to these recruitment costs, the high staff turnover has consequences for patients, including a decrease in patient access, safety of patients and the quality of care that they receive. Disengaged healthcare staff who don’t leave their jobs still contribute to poor outcomes for patients as a result of workloads, stress and burnout.
Research from Workhuman and IBM has found that in healthcare settings, higher levels of employee engagement have a direct link on patient satisfaction levels. There have been links discovered between engaged and disengaged healthcare professionals and the performance of the healthcare organization in terms of efficiency of service, satisfaction of patients, re-visits by patients and the likelihood of patients recommending the service to others.
And an HR Solutions study found that 85% of employees who are engaged were more likely to display a genuinely caring attitude towards their patients. The number of disengaged employees who did so was only 38%.
7 ways to improve employee engagement in healthcare
There are many different ways to help improve healthcare employee engagement in your organization. Here are some employee engagement ideas for hospitals and healthcare facilities that you can try:
1. Start from the top – invest in your leadership team
Great leaders help to inspire others. They serve as role models and help to encourage, mentor, advise and motivate their employees. When leaders are perceived to be out of touch because they have poor people skills, more times than not this will filter through the organization from the top down and result in a toxic or negative workplace culture. Train your leaders to be better, otherwise, most of your other efforts to boost morale and engagement will be wasted.
2. Provide learning and development opportunities
Another way to increase employee satisfaction in healthcare is by investing in your employees’ learning and development. Creating educational opportunities shows them that you value them and want to help them to gain new skills and succeed in their careers. Not only does the organization benefit from keeping employees’ skills up-to-date, but this also has a direct link to engagement levels and morale. It is an extremely worthwhile pursuit.
3. Improve internal communication
Numerous studies over the years have found there is a link between internal communication in an organization and employee engagement levels. Typically when there is little internal communication, or the internal communication efforts are poor, employees are less likely to be engaged. Internal communication is important for providing directions, sharing news, letting people know critical information, and helping employees understand the organization’s goals and how they can help to contribute to them. Without this people are effectively working in the dark and will not be productive and motivated.
4. Provide mentoring opportunities
Mentorship programs – where employees are exposed to coaching and development from more senior colleagues – are an effective way to boost both morale and productivity and help to build strong interpersonal relationships within an organization.
A survey by Mentorcliq found that 83% of people who participated in a mentorship program in their workplace said that they were more likely to keep working for their employer. It also found that 88% of mentees felt that their productivity had increased as a result of participating in a mentorship program.
5. Recognize achievements
If you want to focus on how to improve employee morale in healthcare, you cannot underestimate the value of reward and recognition.
Recognition, rewards and even feedback help employees to feel valued and show them that their contribution to the organization is important. Public acknowledgment of these achievements not only show the employee that they are appreciated, but it is also a way to highlight the organization’s goals and values to the rest of the workforce.
6. Provide mental health and wellbeing resources
At the best of times, healthcare workers are often stressed because they work long hours, in physically and emotionally demanding high-pressure circumstances. This has been exacerbated during the COVID-19 pandemic: the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) reports that there has been a profound effect on healthcare workers’ mental health. The RACGP says that more than 70% of healthcare workers are reporting high levels of anxiety, stress and insomnia as a result of the pandemic.
One of the ways to engage medical staff is to provide mental health and wellbeing resources such as Employee Assistance Programs, free counselling, and other resources to assist with stress can help reduce burnout.
7. Create team building opportunities
There are a number of ways you can bring people from across your organization together to get them to bond and develop relationships. This can take place in informal and fun ways such as holding social events or in more formal ways such as through corporate retreats and “getting to know you” events. When people get to know each other better it helps to create a more positive work environment and builds cohesive, well-functioning teams.
Return on Investment of employee engagement in healthcare
When budgets are stretched in the healthcare sector - as they often are – at face value it might seem that investing in employee engagement initiatives would be a nice thing to do, but the budget could be better prioritized elsewhere.
This type of thinking is a mistake. As mentioned above, there are many studies that have shown the relationship between employee satisfaction and hospital patient experiences. These same studies, and others, often find there are financial benefits for organization tthat make employee engagement a priority.
According to the Harvard Business Review, organizations with higher levels of engagement are likely to have financial margins that are 5% higher than those that don’t.
Savings from boosted employee engagement can come from a variety of sources. This includes:
- Reduction in hospital acquired conditions and readmissions
- Less likelihood of negligence
- Preventable deaths are reduced by 50% (according to the Consortium for Patient Engagement)
- Less likelihood of defending law suits
- Reduction in workers compensations claims
- Reduction in absenteeism
- Lower levels of staff turnover means less recruitment costs.
Improving healthcare employee engagement isn’t something that happens overnight. It takes sustained effort and sometimes takes time to see the results of your engagement initiatives. At the end of the day, having engaged, happy and productive employees on your healthcare workforce will lead to better outcomes for patients and for the organization’s bottom line – all you have to do is invest time, effort and some budget into providing tools and resources to facilitate these changes.