As we wrote in a recent blog, “Does Employee Engagement Apply to Healthcare?”, the answer is a resounding “Yes!” Further, “the primary determining factor of the healthcare industries employee’s satisfaction and loyalty is the relationship with his or her direct supervisor. When employees believe their opinions matter, that they have the support, resources, and training necessary to provide quality patient care, employees are more satisfied with their employer.”
However, how does employee engagement fit with all the demands and challenges facing the healthcare industry today? In addition to a highly competitive, highly regulated business environment, current concerns over healthcare funding add to the uncertainty. As Kevin Kruse wrote in Forbes, “Healthcare reform has added to the challenge by bringing a focus to patient satisfaction, provider preventable conditions and readmission rates. The federal government recently cut Medicare payments to 721 hospitals —totaling $371 million—which had unacceptably high rates of hospital-acquired conditions (HACs), and fined 2,610 hospitals for having too many readmissions.”
However, healthcare is still essentially a people-to-people, service delivery business. Therefore, employee engagement is not only relevant but contributes to organizational success by increasing quality, decreasing errors, reducing costs, improving productivity, and most importantly improving patient outcomes.
It is important for healthcare providers not to confuse employee engagement with employee satisfaction. Thinking only regarding “making employees happy” causes healthcare managers to undervalue employee engagement – and to allocate resources away from the effort. Kruse writes “The problem with employee satisfaction is that it sets the bar too low. A satisfied nurse might show up for his shift without complaint, and do the minimum required of him, and be very satisfied. And that same nurse will be satisfied as he takes the job from the competing hospital in the next town over for a slightly better schedule. The problem with employee happiness is that someone might be happy at work, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they are working productively on behalf of the hospital or mindful of patient needs. Employee engagement is the emotional commitment employees have to the company and its goals. Put simply, when your employees are engaged, they care about your hospital, their team and their patients.”
And engaged employees get results:
- A Gallup study of 200 hospitals found that the engagement level of nurses was the number one variable correlating to patient mortality.
- A review of engagement and clinical outcomes at the NHS in England showed that for every 10% increase in engagement there was a reduction in MRSA by .057 cases per 10,000 bed days and one standard deviation improvement in engagement reduced mortality by 2.4 percentage points.
And yet, less than half (44% according to one study) of the healthcare workforce is engaged. What can hospitals do to increase employee engagement? A Harvard Business Review article gives the following prescription: “First, hospitals need to accurately diagnose the issues through research techniques that measure levels of engagement and identify the specific drivers that affect those levels for different groups within the system. Second, they need to translate those drivers into a set of actions and behaviors that are realistic, meaningful and sustainable. As with medicine itself, diagnosis without corresponding “treatment” will not bring about lasting improvement.”
For more information about measuring employee engagement in the healthcare industry, contact Infosurv today! 888-262-3186