Value employees for better hospital performance, engagement

Karen Cheung

Karen M. Cheung

"I work all the time." "I'm going nowhere fast." "I don't get paid enough." "I feel like I'm just a worker bee." "I'm not appreciated." These are things we've all heard at one time or another from workers in various industries. Likely, these statements aren't unique to healthcare.

It's a no-brainer, but it's worth stating: Workers who feel valued at their jobs actually perform better and report increased well-being, according to survey by the American Psychological Association (APA), released yesterday. Almost all employees (93 percent) across industries who said they felt valued at their jobs were motivated to do their best, and 88 percent said they were more engaged. Comparatively, only a third (33 percent) of those who didn't feel valued said they were motivated, and 38 percent of those who didn't feel appreciated were engaged.  

With one in five working Americans saying their employers don't value them, the attitude (either perceived or actual) could have turnover consequences. The research indicated that half of all employees who aren't involved in decision making, not satisfied with advancement, don't have flexible work schedules, or not compensated with money or other non-monetary awards said they intended to look for a new job the next year.  

In 2010, total physician turnover was 6.1 percent, compared to 5.9 percent in 2009, according to a survey by Cejka Search and the American Medical Group Association (AMGA), and that number could be rising. The increase suggests unhappy doctors who'd decided to stay put in a weak economy now are feeling bold enough to make a change.

"The business world is in the midst of a sea change," David W. Ballard, head of APA's Psychologically Healthy Workplace Program, said in the association statement. "Successful organizations have learned that high performance and sustainable results require attention to the relationships among employee, organization, customer and community. Forward-thinking employers ... are taking steps to create a positive organizational culture where employees feel valued and, in turn, help drive bottom-line results."

How do hospitals keep their physicians and other healthcare professionals in place? Consider the following steps to valuing employees and engaging them:

Assess stress levels and burnout: As more hospitals implement evidence-based engagement programs, they're finding that mixing research-based surveys with caregivers' experience and patient preferences can be helpful. Consider discussing with providers through surveys and in-person talks about their levels of stress, which two out of every five workers feel, according to APA. And in the cases of burnout, offer support resources, including mentors and other wellness programs through the institution. It's important to note too that burnout doesn't happen only at the clinician level, but also at the CEO level, as healthcare CEO turnover is highest among all industries.

Groom for leadership opportunities: Offering growth and advancement opportunities can certainly keep people motivated to attain goals, but clearly defining expectations to get there is just as important. Set up workers for success with balanced workloads.

Reward, reward, reward: And finally, show appreciation for them with celebrations to mark their work anniversaries, having morning check-ins to offer help, or even saying a simple "thank you." - Karen (@FierceHealth)

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