4 strategies to employee engagement

Karen Cheung

Karen M. Cheung

Good news comes this week that employee engagement is up. At least that's what consulting firm HR Solutions International said in a survey of more than 3.3 million employees across industries, which found active engagement rose from 27 percent in 2010 to 29 percent in 2011. Employees who said they were ambivalent dropped slightly from 60 percent to 59 percent, and those who said they were actively disengaged decreased from 13 percent to 12 percent.

The survey suggests that even in a down economy, employees can increasingly engage, which sounds like good news. But from the glass-half-empty perspective, only a third of them actually (and actively) care about their work.

So how does a healthcare organization engage healthcare professionals and achieve the triple aim, when the industry is pressing employees to do more with less?

Here are a few tips that leaders have had success with:

Offer ongoing assessments to let physicians know how they're doing as part of the performance management process. Assessments on a continual basis, rather than episodic, help boost physicians' perception of the value of their work.

Invest in leadership development. A survey conducted by the National Center for Healthcare Leadership last year found that evidence-based leadership development is more successful at hospitals affiliated with systems, likely due to a larger pool of available resources. If after conducting assessments, you realize that performance isn't all that great, offer training resources or input.

Present goals visually. Talking about goals--whether personal, departmental or organization-wide--is certainly worthwhile, but having a visual representation of those goals can help motivate workers even more. An August study in Journal of Marketing found that studied subjects who saw their progress marked on a computer screen actually performed better in the simple task of holding a grip. The study also found that breaking up projects into smaller subgoals made tasks more manageable.

Conduct walking rounds. Doug Conant, former president and CEO of the Campbell Soup Company, last week described how the company morphed into an organization with a stellar 17:1 ratio of engaged employees to non-engaged workers. One of his strategies he attributed to the success is connecting with employees around the office, spending 30 minutes a day and as much as 10,000 daily steps, talking and walking with colleagues. Healthcare leaders also echoed this strategy, including Raymond Hino, CEO of Mendocino Coast District Hospital in California, and David Musyj, president and CEO of Windsor Regional Hospital in Ontario, Canada, calling it "Bring-your-CEO-to-Work-Day" or "going undercover," respectively.

Have you had success with these strategies or any others? Good luck on continuing the engagement process. Here's to hoping that next year's numbers will be even better. - Karen (@FierceHealth)