How to Boost Employee Engagement in Healthcare in 2021

May 2021
Mins read

More engaged teams mean happy employees and better results for your organization. Now that the physical pressures of Covid are being handled more effectively by management, it’s time to focus on psychological pressures and how they affect employee engagement. In healthcare in 2021, employee engagement needs to be a real focus.

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What is employee engagement?

EE = job + environment + management + organizational factors

Employee engagement is a term that is psychological in its essence, and represents the degree to which an employee is: 

  • Involved in the organization and colleagues
  • Resonating with organizational values
  • Thriving in their work life
  • Rising to challenges, with personal and team wins
  • Enjoying their actual work

It goes further than just job satisfaction. While an employee can be perfectly happy with their job, rating job satisfaction highly on any given feedback, this isn’t to say they are highly engaged. It’s about an employee feeling a two-way trust and synergy with their workplace - it doesn’t have to be a dream role, but it certainly feels like a dream job.

What does an engaged employee look like?

A highly engaged employee is likely to look like the one who is always excited to be at work, brimming with ideas on a Monday morning. They’re the employee organising a morning tea to celebrate a team member’s birthday, the employee with their eye on a promotion or a secondment to another team. They are the ones that seem to hold an organisation up, even if they’re not in a higher or managerial position.

On the other side of the coin you have an unengaged employee. This person is simply doing the bare minimum to get by in their job. They may appear to be staring off into the distance at meetings, uninterested in promotions, and even missing days often. You may even be able to note them by a slow or sluggish manner, although this isn’t always true.

Employee engagement in healthcare in 2021

It has been a very tough year for healthcare workers and while some workplaces are slowly returning to a new type of normal, for others it’s still a very pressure-filled and difficult environment.

Healthcare has been one of the industries that has been hit by Covid the worst. While job losses haven’t been a factor in many organisations, it’s the opposite that’s been true. 

Because of Covid, businesses have been forced to completely overhaul business operations, the way facilities are managed (and cleaned), client interactions, and more. For many, staff have been overstretched, overworked, and oftentimes underpaid when you take a look at output.

What this can all stack up to is a less engaged employee. Even the most enthusiastic employees can experience burnout and even PTSD under the circumstances which Covid has brought about. If you’ve noticed more sick days, more employees looking overwhelmed, less joy around the workplace, then your employees have been feeling the pressure.

The importance of employee engagement in healthcare has never been greater. Employee engagement trends in healthcare in 2020 were just about keeping on staff. But the Covid pressure for healthcare workplaces isn’t letting up any time soon. Even your most engaged employees might be starting to struggle after over a year under very difficult circumstances. While past behaviour is a good indicator of future behaviour, burnout can start to occur at any time and varies from person to person.

The benefits of engaged employees

When we’re talking about the benefits of more engaged employees, it’s not just their baseline happiness and attitudes towards work. These also translate into business benefits, too.

Observed results from highly engaged teams can include:

  • Increase in productivity
  • Lower absenteeism
  • Lower costs in safety incidents
  • Higher retention rates
  • Higher performing employees

What this all adds up to is not only a happy and healthy team, but increased organizational savings with a real dollar value, alongside happy clients and stakeholders. 

In the healthcare setting, unengaged teams can be a recipe for disaster. Studies, like How Employee Engagement Matters for Hospital Performance, show that low engagement can result in attrition, a drop in patient centred care, which can lead to a poor reputation, and a drop in safety culture, which can lead to poor quality service.

Factors that influence engagement

According to 2019 research by Culture Amp, respondents in healthcare outlined the following five factors as being the most influential on engagement:

  • Confidence in leadership
  • The company is great for personal/career development
  • The company’s record with acting on new or innovative ideas
  • Leadership demonstrating that the companys’ people are what really make the business
  • The right people being rewarded and recognised

The survey also indicated that, among respondents, collaboration and communication, as well as lack of feedback and recognition, were rated lowly - which affected employee engagement.

Surveys from the NHS in 2012-2016 show that patient bed numbers and revenue were significantly correlated with employee engagement levels, higher bed numbers with lower engagement, and higher revenue with higher engagement. In this study, the most critical factor that could predict employee engagement across the survey was deemed to be advocacy - recommending the workplace as somewhere to work or receive treatment.

Before learning how we can improve our engagement levels, we first need to benchmark them to determine current levels.

Measuring employee engagement

As you can see, there are many different aspects to look at that go into overall engagement. There is not just one question to ask an employee that covers employee engagement, rather it’s a series of questions you need to ask. 

Most commonly, this is done in survey form, with a wide variety of questions. For more honest answers, make sure that the survey can be filled and submitted anonymously. Do be aware that if team members are very unengaged, they likely won’t take the survey very seriously. There may also be incorrect data gathered if they have a high distrust of leadership, which is why a external consulting company may be brought on board to administer these surveys.

Once the results come in, you’re able to see what sentiments your employees are harbouring - whether good, bad, or somewhere in between. You should also further segment employees by department, role, age, etc., to see whether these are differentiators for results.

How to improve employee engagement in healthcare

Once you know your current engagement levels, you know which areas to are important to concentrate on right now to help keep employees happy. From here you can build a strategy to address these areas.

With your focus areas in hand, it’s time to plot how to address your employees’ pain points. While there are business-specific plans you will need to develop, there are some universal employee engagement strategies in healthcare that can be addressed with easy changes - rather than upheaval of deep-seated organizational issues!

An intranet in healthcare and community services that’s available as an app - not just on spare computer terminals - can provide an excellent base to help boost a number of employee engagement verticals.

How an intranet can help

Here’s how to increase employee engagement in healthcare with features readily available through the CentricMinds platform - which we designed specifically to help your industry.

Communication and collaboration

As mentioned above, communication and collaboration is a vertical in healthcare that many employees feel unsatisfied with. With a thriving intranet that is well managed by the communications team and used every shift by team members, it serves as an organization and team-wide noticeboard. Our employee app supports secure file sharing, realtime chat, task and workflow management with an integrated staff directory.

Visibility of wins within the organization

The CentricMinds platform allows organizations to highlight successes of individuals and teams, pushing these stories to the top of the news cycle. Whether it’s great patient care, a personal achievement such as university graduation, hitting internal targets, or something more, highlighting each story will help build team spirit.

Opportunities for further learning

Just because your employees may be very at work, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t provide opportunities for sit down further learning sessions. This will take a fair amount of consideration to draft, however your intranet provides the perfect jump off point for courses. Our HIPAA-compliant healthcare document management backend ensures everything can be organized properly from inception.

Mental health resources

Mental health in Covid times is extremely important. A comprehensive resource list, including contact list both within your organization and externally is important to include here. This must be kept up to date at all times.