Healthcare ranked lowest for employee satisfaction, Qualtrics survey finds

Healthcare ranked last for employee satisfaction compared to 27 other industries, according to the 2023 Healthcare Experience Trends Report from Qualtrics.

The survey of 3,000 healthcare employees across 27 countries paints a grim picture, reporting that only half of healthcare employees believe they are paid fairly, 38% report they are at risk of burnout and 39% are considering leaving their organizations. Qualtrics also surveyed 9,000 consumers, finding that hospitals ranked among the lowest across industries for satisfaction.

The study also found that while patients appreciate digital healthcare experiences, the human element was paramount.

“What’s important to understand about healthcare today is the extraordinary people that continue to show up every day—people who are intrinsically motivated to help others and support their teams. Caring for others who may be having the worst day of their life is already hard,” Adrienne Boissy, M.D., Qualtrics' chief medical officer, told Fierce Healthcare in an email.

“I think healthcare environments start to go a bit sideways when employees don’t feel they are paid fairly, when time is spent doing menial tasks (like typing, completing forms, repeating information, or filling in the electronic health record at night when they should be spending time with their families), and when their values are conflicted in life and work," Boissy said.

Boissy, who also works as a practicing neurologist at Cleveland Clinic, said that other industries are moving to standardize their experience platforms, consolidate tech stacks and “obsessing over their customers in ways healthcare has not … yet.”

The data point to hope that patients are open to better relationships with healthcare, with 79% of respondents saying they trust hospitals. Small shifts in how patients and staff are viewed can make big differences in morale, Boissy emphasized.

She lists simple bits of technology that can streamline clinicians' workflow while directing them toward the patients most in need of their care. Things like ambient listening and transcription of clinical notes, leveraging virtual care to increase schedule flexibility and prioritization of alerts and safety alarms are “low-hanging fruit," Boissy said.

“For employees, they often feel unknown by the system they work within,” Boissy said. “They are not sure their values align. I see healthcare missing opportunities to humanize at scale like remembering birthdays and work anniversaries, setting the stage at onboarding to focus on caring for people, not learning technology systems, pausing in silence and creating rituals to emotionally decompress staff and leveraging every single opportunity to shower gratitude on caregivers.”

Four overall trends revealed in the report showed a careful balancing of human and machine. Both patients and staff revealed that digitizing and humanizing every experience made stronger connections, people felt heard when their feedback was integrated into hospital functions and trust is earned when memorable patient experiences were achieved. Taking note of other industries was also seen as an important way for hospitals to forge their own path into the future.

As far as feedback goes, 61% of patients felt that healthcare providers needed to do a better job at listening, and 69% said the same thing about insurance companies.

For scheduling appointments, 36% of patients said they would prefer to talk to someone on the phone, and 26% said they would prefer self-service on their phone. For seeking minor medical advice, 48% preferred in-person care and 25% preferred the phone.

“Healthcare scored lower than the cross-industry average in workplace efficiency, which asked about both the processes themselves and the environment,” Boissy said. “In other words, do managers help prioritize the work to focus on? Do they remove barriers? This means the solutions have to equip managers with successful skill sets for their teams and the process itself needs constant re-evaluation and testing.”

When it comes to patients, Boissy says they need to be given more input, more control: “We still build buildings without asking for meaningful patient input.”