Whether it is the food services and facility maintenance personnel or qualified doctors and nurses, having a happy and well-engaged staff is critical for healthcare organizations to serve people effectively. For this, employee engagement and retention needs to be the top priorities for HR. Unfortunately, not every organization in the healthcare sector has clear or concrete plans for talent management. In fact, many still follow antiquated methods, which have little relevance to today’s employees.
The result? This sector faces one of the highest attrition rates, with 43% of respondents in a 2017 survey, conducted by Leaders For Today (LFT), admitting that they had been working in their present hospital jobs for less than 2 years and 65.7% had been working for less than 5 years. On the other hand, when asked about their future plans, 68.6% planned to leave the organization within the next 5 years.
Such high turnover rates have huge repercussions for the healthcare sector, not all of which is financial. Estimated losses run at over $200,000 for physician turnover and up to $58,400 for nurse turnover, according to reports by BE Smith and NSI Nursing Solution.
It is clear that healthcare organizations need to do more to address this crisis. However, to do so, it is important to understand the connection between happy employees and patient experience.
Employee Engagement is Linked to Higher Patient Satisfaction
Patient retention matters to hospitals, in order to establishing credibility and enhance revenue generation. Building a reputation requires high quality healthcare services and satisfied clientele. In this sector, even a small oversight could have major consequences. For instance, healthcare firms might not even realize that they lose millions of dollars at the front desk alone, according to an article by Healthcare Success. From long wait times to rude receptionists, the reasons are manifold.
Many patients have found significant problems in the billing procedures or misinformation regarding insurance coverage. Healthcare compliance laws are very frustrating as well. Even with the presence of skilled consumer-facing staff, other initiatives could go awry, like lack of initiatives to maintain relationships with patients. Can all of this and more be blamed on a disengaged workforce? Yes, to a large extent.
Drivers of Engagement in the Healthcare Sector
According to Tower Watson’s 2013 global workforce study, employees in healthcare firms in the US were dissatisfied on many levels:
- Doctors, nurses and admin staff are overworked, and the companies do little to manage their stress levels. In the absence of work-life balance and flexible work arrangements, they cannot serve patients efficiently.
- Employees want opportunities for career and personal development. If organizations want their employees to understand their business goals, they will have to provide suitable resources and tools for L&D.
- Encouragement from managers to try new ideas and ways to complete tasks. Today’s employees appreciate career development conversations.
All these issues can be summed up in 4 terms: productivity, retention, innovation and workplace well-being, all of which suffer when employee engagement levels are low. It is important to know that all these problems are not unique to the healthcare sector. In the US, disengaged employees cost companies $450-500 billion each year, according to the 2017 DNA of Engagement Report.
Technology Can Help Improve Engagement
We have growing evidence that employee engagement means positive outcomes for both individual and organizational performance. Analysis of patient experience data in over 150 Veterans Affairs Medical Centers, between 2016 and 2018, revealed that employee experiences had close ties with patient satisfaction, efficiency in call centres and decrease in nurse turnover, according to a report by BCG and Partnership for Public Service. Work fulfilment can often translate into passion and enthusiasm in patient care.
One way to boost this enthusiasm is through learning management systems or customized e-learning for healthcare companies. A healthcare professional is never done with education and training. Also, continuous education is necessary to remain updated against a backdrop of stringent and ever-changing healthcare compliance laws, technology, hospital rules and advancements in medical science. Effective, ongoing training is critical, if hospitals want to improve patient care and stay competitive.
With the platform being accessible across multiple devices and offering the ability to easily convert content into rich, multimedia formats, including gamification and fun activities, high levels of engagement and motivation can be achieved. Artificial Intelligence can further enhance the experience, making relevant content recommendations, giving nudges to complete a training module or simply ensuring that notifications are pushed at the right time. The end result is a highly personalized learning experience, which tends to lead to significantly better learning outcomes.
Many hospitals are already doing this and doing it successfully. In this age of increasing ill health but diminishing trust, positive patient experiences are at a premium. Engaged employees have the potential to achieve just that.
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