How to successfully engage healthcare employees

Good employers and leaders will create and foster more engaged employees, who help make organizations more productive and successful, according to the Gallup Business Journal.

Gallup examined 32 companies that employed a collective 600,000 people across seven industries, including healthcare, and found engaged employees outnumber disengaged employees nine to one at these companies.

As employee engagement becomes a top concern for hospital chief executive officers, what makes these businesses so successful? A culmination of inspiring workplace leaders, accountability, decisiveness and a genuine desire to improve, according to the article.

Successful organizations, according to the article, almost always:

Employ leaders who walk the walk. Good leaders set an example by modeling positive management styles and checking in with their teams daily. Leaders who constantly and visibly improve themselves will create a trickle-down effect which employees will mimic.

Have HR teams that help leadership learn. Good human resources team will develop capable employees into leaders who make smart, effective managers. At Lehigh Valley Health Network, the hospital identified 160 employees from all realms who displayed strong social and emotional intelligence and put them in a leadership development program, 75 percent of whom graduated from the program and moved into more senior positions than when they started.

Maintain a strong culture in face of adversity. Even when the majority of companies Gallup examined faced a financial slump or cuts within the organization, they kept an open, accessible line of communication and adapted quickly to changes. Culture and employee engagement are two areas that leaders can control during shifting industry changes and unstable financial times, according to the article. For example, Dignity Health, which operates 300 care centers in 21 states, chose to keep its doors open at four hospitals in bankrupt municipalities, despite not yielding a profit, because they are a piece of the system's core mission.

Encourage leaders to trust their teams and hold them accountable. Support middle management by giving them a voice and a chance to prove they can build and maintain their own micro-culture, according to the article. At Hardford HealthCare, the hospital restructured its middle management system and used workgroups rather than departments to create clear and specific goals with a strong customer focus, as part of its "How Hartford HealthCare Works" program. Each work group meets monthly and is led by an assigned leader, who attends a 10-class training session. 

Don't just engage employees to meet metrics and standards. Successful employers use employee engagement to achieve greater outcomes and create a better product. Gallup cites the Hospital For Special Surgery in Manhattan as a good example. The hospital makes nurses feel appreciated and important to daily operations, and in turn, the nurse turnover is lower than the industry average, Stephanie Goldberg, the hospital's senior vice president of patient care and chief nursing officer told Gallup.

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