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4 unsettling facts that are disrupting employee engagement in healthcare

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Employee engagement is a problem facing nearly every industry. The latest Gallup poll shows that just over 30 percent of the workforce claim to be engaged at work. While engagement remains low across the board, the healthcare industry seems to be getting hit the hardest. According to a recent study, the healthcare industry ranked at the bottom when it came to employee engagement.

Low engagement is disturbing news for any industry, especially since high employee engagement is linked to higher retention rates, improved job satisfaction, and increase workplace productivity. In the healthcare industry, however, employee engagement offers several other major benefits, including reduced safety issues in the workplace, improved patient outcomes, and lower operating costs.

It’s easy to see why more and more employers are taking steps to improve employee engagement across the board. While prioritizing employee engagement is a noble first step, employers in the healthcare industry must start by understanding some of the underlying factors affecting engagement.

Here’s a look at four unsettling facts that are directly affecting employee engagement in the healthcare industry.

1. The reality of employee burnout

Burnout in the healthcare industry has always been a primary concern of employers. After all, these employees are asked to work long hours in a fast-paced environment where they literally face life and death decisions. Signs show that burnout among healthcare workers is on the rise. According to a recent study, more than 50 percent of physicians claimed to have experienced at least one common symptom of burnout, and the problem isn’t isolated to doctors. The burnout rate among nurses is 70 percent, and nearly 30 percent of other healthcare workers claim to experience the stress of burnout.

Unfortunately, there are no easy solutions to curing the burnout problem facing the healthcare industry. Today’s healthcare workers are under more scrutiny, face more regulations, and are fighting a severe shortage of healthcare professionals. Employee burnout is not an issue that management can solve by itself. Healthcare leaders must partner with their frontline workers to identify and implement real solutions that provide much-needed relief to these healthcare professionals.

2. Lack of recognition leads to higher turnover

According to the latest State of the American Workplace, employees that feel undervalued at work are two times more likely to quit their job. Despite this fact, the report also shows that only 30 percent of the workers surveyed said that they received some form of recognition in the workplace over the past week. Unfortunately, these numbers can be even lower for those working the fast-paced environment, like the healthcare industry.

To effectively deal with this issue, employers do not only need to make employee recognition a priority. They need to invest in an easy-to-use recognition platform that drives social recognition.

For example, CHRISTUS St. Michael Health System was committed to solving its low employee recognition problem. The company introduced KABOOM, a points-based recognition program developed by Achievers. The new software gave employees an easy-to-use platform to provide real-time recognition on a regular basis. The results were astounding. Employee recognition increased by 4,500 percent and employee turnover dropped to 6.4 percent.

3. Healthcare workers want to make a difference

Salary will likely always be a primary concern for employees, but it’s important to point out that today’s employees want more than a big paycheck. Employees, especially millennials, also want to know that they are making a difference in the community around them. In fact, in a recent study, 50 percent of millennials said that they would take a reduction in salary to work for an employer with matching values.

Employers must find a way to connect the dots for their employees. They must show their employees the value of their work and the impact they have on patient care. Your employees want to feel they have a real impact.

Asking your employees to provide feedback and give ideas on how to improve patient care within your facility is a good place to start, but you can’t stop there. You also must act, when appropriate, on employee feedback. Using an efficient employee feedback tool that is always on and always listening can help. This type of platform can boost engagement by asking relevant questions, keeping both the employee and management up-to-date on feedback and action, and provide next-step action ideas.

4. Fear of retribution impedes honest feedback

The last thing that you want to happen is for your employees to stop giving feedback. When employees think that their voice doesn’t matter, it can make them feel undervalued, frustrated, and leery of providing future feedback. A recent study revealed that more than 30 percent of the nurses surveyed stated that they would be leery of reporting a safety issue in the workplace because they fear retribution.

Most healthcare employers do not purposely instill this type of fear in the workforce. Rather, this fear is a repercussion of not taking employee feedback seriously and making it a priority. This issue can be fixed by taking a vocal stand to encourage employee feedback at all levels within the workplace and by providing your staff with an always-on and easy platform to offer feedback.

Success stories

What are healthcare companies currently doing to improve employee engagement? Let’s look at Availity, the nation’s largest real-time health information network. After Availity launched their “LOVE” recognition program, they saw 100 percent senior leadership participation and a 99.5 percent activation rate. By implementing an employee recognition and engagement platform, Availity haas been able to maintain a fun and engaging work environment, and ultimately solidify its culture of transparency and respect.



Profile image of author: Kellie Wong

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