3 Ways to Inspire Employee Innovation in Healthcare

Marketing Specialist

Employees are only as good as their leader, right? Not only do great leaders create the right environment for engagement, they also play a significant role in shaping a group of creative minds and inspiring new leaders.  “We know that frontline staff, when provided with enough freedom, confidence and encouragement, can be capable of incredible things,” says Clair Cater, founder of the Social Kinetic and a member of the Wish Forum for Patient Engagement. They can help us improve care quality, reduce costs and help design solutions to big challenges.

As you plan your initiatives for the new year, consider the following strategies to help you inspire a community of innovative and independent thinkers.

Use Your Heart, Not Your Head

Poor patient satisfaction scores can be caused by many things such as response times, food quality, pain management, the effectiveness of patient communication, and so on. This, however, was not the case for Lakeland Health. Dr.  Gary Hamel, Lakeland Health’s CEO, wondered how he could reinvent the healthcare experience without scaling up any additional resources (e.g., investing more money in additional staff or patient amenities).

After careful thought, he proposed: what if employees brought their hearts along with their professional skills to work every day? He wanted them to learn to be more compassionate and loving. He challenged them to bring their heart to work in new and creative ways. With this strategy, he aimed to take his organization to the 90th percentile in 90 days. They raised scores by touching the hearts of their patients—by making sure they know not only how well they care for them, but also how much they care about them. Dr. Hamel didn’t offer them a script or training program. Instead, he guided them. For every time they interact with a patient, they were to tell them who they are, what they’re there to do, and then share a heartfelt why. After 90 days and 6,000 successful stories, they were at the 95th percentile for the first time ever.

Ignite Passion

According to a recent Refresh Leadership poll, 26 percent of respondents said engagement and meaningful work is the key contributing factor to job satisfaction. It’s critical for leaders to remind employees how their work fits into the company’s vision and understand that their work is necessary to meet the end goal. “If your employees know how much you value every aspect of their job, they will be that much more proud of what they do and passionate about their role in the company’s mission,” says James C. Price, Marketing Specialist for Express Employment Professionals International Headquarters.

Price suggests focusing on communicating the importance of every task and how their day-to-day tasks affect the big picture. Explaining the “why” to your employees makes delegating the “what, when, and how” that much easier. If you’re perceived as passionate about the company’s vision, your team will look to you for inspiration and you become their beacon of hope and insight.

Invite Feedback

Developing a transparent culture and opening an honest and open dialogue between leadership and staff can have positive outcomes.  Griffin Hospital, for example, transformed itself from a troubled organization in the 1980s to become one of the best places to work in the country. They built a transparent culture by soliciting honest feedback from employees, doctors, nurses and patients (new and old) while also sharing both good and bad news with their team. Senior leaders also made it a point to include employees during any major decision-making session to show they valued their input and concerns. They listened and gave them what they asked for, and as a result, Griffin Hospital became a role model for hundreds of hospitals across America.

Most employees are looking for inspiration, says Forbes contributor, Carmine Gallo. “They are searching for meaning and they want to have someone or something to believe in. They want to make a difference and they’re looking to you—their team leader—for inspiration.” What are your thoughts and/or concerns? I’d love to hear from you. 

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