A recent study by Gallup shows that 87 percent of employees worldwide are not engaged at work. Without sounding like Captain Obvious, that means slightly more than 10 percent of employees say they are engaged.
Looking more closely at the healthcare sector, a 2012 study from Towers Watson found that 44 percent of U.S. hospital employees are highly engaged. Engagement denotes how connected an employee feels to his or her employer, the level of satisfaction derived from their work and a willingness to give extra effort. Press Ganey believes employee engagement to be “a barometer for the cultural health of an organization and a core tenet of patient-centered care.”
Creating a culture of engagement
Investing in your employees to create a culture of engagement is well worth the time and effort. Consider this, The Engagement Institute found that disengaged employees cost companies a staggering $450 to $550 billion a year. Rather than focusing on the impact of disengaged employees, let’s turn to the positive effect that engaged employees and a dynamic culture can have on your home-based care organization.
A handful of companies are known for having great cultures that drive real results. Some names that come to mind are Zappos, Google, Southwest Airlines and Disney. In examining Zappos’ company culture, an Entrepreneur contributor found that it’s the people, specifically the right people who fit with Zappos’ culture, that makes the difference. “Great benefits and a workplace that is fun and dedicated to making customers happy all fit in with the Zappos approach to company culture – when you get the company culture right, great customer service and a great brand will happen on its own.”
Engaged employees are one of the most important assets for a healthcare provider. They’re the ones who do more than they’re asked. They get involved in committees. They are the face of your brand. They share great things the company is doing with their family and friends.
With attributes like that, why wouldn’t home-based care providers put a greater emphasis on their culture to have an engaged workforce that advocates for your brand?
Cultivating brand advocates
There are a number of ways to connect your employees with your organization; and these efforts don’t require big budgets.
- Transparent Communication – Employees want to feel like they are contributing to something bigger. This can be done by regularly communicating your organization’s strategy and business performance and aligning employees’ day-to-day work with its goals and objectives. A survey by Kimble Applications validates this perspective. The study found that 75 percent of American workers care deeply about the success and well-being of their employer. However, a much smaller percentage, 23 percent of employees, said they actually understood how well their companies were doing. From the results, Kimble Applications reported that “increased transparency related to business performance would lead to more motivated, engaged employees.”
- Employee Councils – Gather qualitative feedback from employees on a consistent basis. While annual quantitative employee surveys are beneficial for tracking satisfaction and engagement, hearing from them firsthand provides valuable input. Bring together a cross-section of employees on a quarterly basis. Ask for their feedback and ideas. Listen. And, most importantly, let the employees know how their input is being shared with senior leaders and follow up with the ways their ideas are being implemented.
- Recognition – Recognizing employees for their hard work and contributions should be a no-brainer; and it doesn’t have to be elaborate. Actually, it doesn’t have to cost anything. It takes little time for a supervisor to offer genuine acknowledgement for a job well done. It can be as simple as “Patient A’s caregiver called and she told me how much her mom looks forward to your visits. Thank you for providing such great care to her.” Or you could send a handwritten note or email or take time to recognize the work during a team meeting. The time to offer sincere gratitude for great work is minimal, but the positive impact to employees is priceless.
- Sneak Peeks – Make sure employees are the first ones to see new marketing campaigns before they hit the airwaves and digital spaces. Help employees articulate the brand strategy. As employees’ family and friends see the campaign, they’ll undoubtedly mention it, and maybe ask questions. Prep your employees to be able to speak to the campaign and the goals behind it.
Employee engagement isn’t about ensuring your staff is happy. Rather, it’s an ongoing concerted effort to closely align your employees with your organization. Similar to for-profit corporations, healthcare entities can’t achieve their objectives if their staffs aren’t working toward the same goal. Employees who understand the direction of the organization and see how their work supports the achievement of strategic objectives are more likely to focus on the initiatives that drive the right results. Numerous studies demonstrate this connection between engagement and performance.
Employees truly are the face of your organization’s brand. With so much at stake, engaging them should be a strategic priority. Rarely can such simple changes yield so significant a return.