Increasing Employee Engagement in Your Practice

Bettinna Signori, CMOM-HEM/ONC
Manager
Beaumont Center for Hematology & Oncology
Dearborn, MI
Jason Lockard, CMOM
Regional Practice Administrator
Beaumont Medical Group
Southfield, MI

As oncology management professionals, the sentiment is never lost that people are our strongest asset. The proficiency of a practice’s front-line staff can affect the efficacy of treatment, support the initiatives of professional organizations, and greatly influence the mood and mindset of patients. Therefore, as we continue to navigate through the ever-changing healthcare environment, it is critical to take the necessary steps to support those who are critical to the care of our patients.

A recent article published by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality reported that increased efforts to engage patients and their families led to a significant reduction in medication errors.1 Having a well-trained staff can positively affect the confidence that patients have in your practice. By providing patients with an involved and consistent team, your relationships with them will continue to flourish. To support this effort, emphasis must be placed on employee engagement.

Research has demonstrated that poor leadership is a key contributor to employee attrition.2 As a result, it is important to look within to understand whether your actions are supporting an environment in which team members feel valued. In this article, we discuss a few of the simple, but significant ways in which you can increase employee engagement in your practice.

Communicate with Your Employees

It sounds basic, but effective communication with your employees can reap great rewards. Many studies illustrate the costs associated with poor communication. In fact, 57% of employees report not being given clear directions, and 69% of managers report that they are not comfortable communicating with their employees in general.3 The importance of the message and the honesty of the messenger are critical for ensuring that staff members feel they are being kept in the loop. It also allows these valuable team members to be active contributors to solutions for daily issues that arise. According to one survey, 33% of human resource managers believe that a lack of open, honest communication has the greatest negative impact on employee morale.4

Communication is not only about disseminating a message to employees. It is also about engaging with them on a regular basis. Often, managers use the annual performance review to communicate with employees, but this should not be the only time in which to provide feedback. Daily huddles, monthly check-ins, and even a brief meeting are all ways in which employees can be kept abreast of important issues affecting the practice.

Celebrate Life Events

Many healthcare workers find themselves spending more time with coworkers than with their family members. For these individuals, the workplace is like a second home. Therefore, it is important to celebrate life events with your employees just as you would with your family. Celebrating these events can connect people with each other and create bonds that can lead to higher satisfaction in the workplace.

Recognizing employee work anniversaries and birthdays, either with a handwritten card or with a homemade cupcake, is a simple, but highly appreciated gesture. Some managers host monthly events in which all employees’ birthdays in the month are celebrated at the same time. Larger life events, such as an upcoming wedding or a baby on the way, are excellent reasons to host office celebrations.

Be Your Team’s Greatest Cheerleader

Advocating for your employees is one of the most powerful ways to show that you are committed to their success. Being a cheerleader, however, does not mean that you do not hold employees accountable for delivering their best work. Rather, it is about advocating for them—whether it be for a merit increase or for obtaining the equipment and tools they need to perform their jobs as effectively and efficiently as possible.

Employee Recognition

Numerous studies cite the importance of recognition in improving employee engagement. Staff members who feel recognized perform better and report higher levels of job satisfaction. It does not take much effort to recognize your employees. At one practice, a shout-out board was created, in which staff members could submit a message of congratulations, appreciation, or support for a coworker who assisted them with something that particular day. These shout-outs would then be read at the morning briefings. Peer-to-peer recognition has as much of an influence on employee engagement as does manager recognition.5

In another practice, the manager handed out pennies to employees for such phenomena as keeping things positive or receiving compliments from patients. At the end of the quarter, the employee with the most pennies received a gift card to a local coffee shop, whereas the others received a candy bar of their choice. These are examples of simple but greatly appreciated gestures.

Say “Thank You”

This one is simple but often overlooked. Thank you—2 simple words that can pack a large punch. “Thank you for coming to work” may sound funny, but it sets a positive tone for the entire day. The physicians thanking the front desk staff for their hard work, the manager thanking the medical assistants for helping a patient walk to the front, the nurse thanking the financial counselor for meeting with a patient so quickly—these are just a few of the ways to show appreciation.

Ensuring that the employees in your practice are engaged is critical to the success of daily operations, which can result in better patient outcomes. It takes some time and effort, but the steps and tools involved in engaging employees are simple and effective and can go a long way in fostering an office culture of gratitude.

References

  1. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. How patient and family engagement benefits your hospital. Updated May 21, 2013. www.ahaphysicianforum.org/resources/appropriate-use/ACSC/content/AHRQ-PFE-Guide-selections.pdf. Accessed August 18, 2020.
  2. Heathfield SM. Top 10 reasons why employees quit their jobs: a checklist for the retention of your talented employees. Updated December 9, 2019. www.thebalancecareers.com/top-reasons-why-employees-quit-their-job-1918985. Accessed August 18, 2020.
  3. Kashyap V. Effective communication in the workplace: how and why? May 20, 2019. www.hrtechnologist.com/articles/employee-engagement/effective-communication-in-the-workplace-how-and-why. Accessed August 18, 2020.
  4. Marks S. Survey: poor communication largest factor in morale problems. October 23, 2013. www.recruiter.com/i/survey-poor-communication-largest-factor-in-morale-problems. Accessed August 18, 2020.
  5. TINYpulse. The 7 key trends impacting today’s workplace: results from the 2014 TINYpulse employee engagement and organizational culture report. www.tinypulse.com/2014-employee-engagement-organizational-culture-report. Accessed August 18, 2020.
Article provided through a partnership with
Practice Management Institute
and
Michigan Society of Hematology & Oncology

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