Why physician engagement doesn't always work

As many healthcare executives know, physician engagement sometimes doesn't occur despite best efforts. A new study indicates that work engagement comes from two factors--the employer's resources, such as support, but also the employee's own personal traits--that can affect the level of engagement and high-quality performance.

Not surprisingly, job resources that the employer provides, such as social support, feedback, and opportunities for autonomy, help satisfy workers, according to the study published in the Current Directions in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science (APS).

However, the study also found that some of the engagement comes not from what the employer does, but the employee's own resources, that is, personal self-esteem and optimism.

Study researchers encouraged employers to have realistic goals when it comes to engagement, recognizing that engagement levels vary by day and sometimes even by hour, according to Arnold B. Bakker, a psychologist at Erasmus University Rotterdam in the Netherlands, in an APS press release.

"Indeed, no one should expect to feel, or be expected to exhibit, peak engagement every second of the workday. Sometimes work is tedious; employees need to be able to tolerate that. Nor should they be held to impossible standards," states the press release.

Meanwhile, another study published in the Journal of Managerial Psychology concludes that strong organizational structure, such mentorship, helps new employees adjust better and increases personal engagement at work.

"Simply throwing newcomers into a job and letting them fend for themselves results in their being socialized by default rather than design," said Jamie Gruman, an organizational behavior professor in the Department of Business and the School of Hospitality and Tourism Management, in a University of Guelph press release.

He continued, "Companies benefit from boosting their employees' well-being. Helping new hires adjust at the start empowers them to achieve their potential later on."

To learn more:
- read the APS press release
- read the U of Guelph press release