Creating a Better Employee Experience in Healthcare

Senior Director of Marketing

It’s no secret that patient experience in a healthcare setting is deeply connected to the employee experience of healthcare workers. 

Organizations have been able to improve patient loyalty by moving the needle on their employee engagement. One healthcare organization increased its workforce engagement from 9% to 30% and saw a nearly 5 point increase in the number of patients likely to recommend their services. 

“The way you treat [your employees] affects their productivity — and ultimately the patient experience,” says Randi Busse, president of Workforce Development Group.

In addition to increasing patient experiences and outcomes, a great employee experience can solve a multitude of workforce problems. Between 2014 and 2018, the average American hospital turned over 87.8% of its workforce. With the cost of replacing a single nurse ranging from $37,700 to $58,400, the financial burden of turnover adds up quickly. But happy, engaged employees are much more likely to stay at your organization, reducing the skyrocketing costs of turnover. And when employees feel confident that their needs are met, increased morale and enhanced loyalty and productivity will follow.

Here are three ways you can serve your patients by delivering a better employee experience in healthcare. 

Find the Right Balance for Employee Workload

Most employees cite “personal reasons” for leaving a job, but they often come down to a poorly balanced workload. But with many healthcare organizations facing staff shortages, achieving the right balance can be extremely difficult. “Promoting a good workload balance requires building a culture where productivity and well-being are both important,” says Liz Simpler, CEO and co-founder of WMC Public Health Consulting. “If your organization has a policy of time off or breaks but people are judged or penalized for using them, then rates of dissatisfaction will increase.” If possible, round out medical teams with physician extenders or mid-level practitioners to reduce the burden on doctors and nurses, suggests Erin Jackson, healthcare attorney and founding partner at Jackson LLP: Healthcare Lawyers

Charting and reporting can also consume a lot of valuable time, sometimes resulting in employees staying late to complete these tasks. This can be mitigated by building time for these tasks into the projected shift. “Carve out part of the workday for tasks that rely upon employees using their at-work time,” Jackson says. “If they need to work extra hours to perform administrative tasks or keep up with compliance demands, they'll take shortcuts and be resentful.”

Identify and Eliminate Sources of Employee Dissatisfaction

Background checks and other HR-related screening processes can make a significant difference in the employee experience. Comprehensive background checks, for example, can minimize instances of bullying. One study notes that nearly half of nurses have reported being verbally harassed or bullied by other nurses. If your employees are afraid for their safety at work, they are not likely to remain.

Employee surveys can also help you identify the specific reasons for lack of employee satisfaction, but these tasks can sometimes be overlooked by busy employees. Gamifying these types of tasks can lead to better engagement, Jackson suggests. “Consider asking employees to complete an administrative task by sending out emails that also invite them to enter contests or vote for the coffee served in the office this month,” she says. “If your employees feel heard and valued, they'll be more willing to help the organization accomplish its goals — however micro they may be.”

Recognize Employees and Encourage Mobility

Recognizing an employee’s performance and providing avenues for career growth are low-cost ways to boost the employee experience. “Recognition can be demonstrated via regular reviews, during which the employee has an opportunity to constructively discuss their experience and receive personalized feedback and recognition,” Jackson says. 

Sharing recognition should permeate your organization’s culture. “Recognition doesn’t only have to come from a supervisor,” Busse says. “In fact, peer-to-peer recognition is often more valued and validating.” 

Lack of mobility can also contribute to a poor employee experience. This can be prevented early, Busse points out, by identifying which candidates or employees are interested in moving up or to other positions in the organization. Being transparent about mobility options in the hiring and interview stage and helping establish clear career paths at your organization can be critical for retaining high-value employees. 

Creating a positive employee experience that optimizes your employees’ work lives and duties is critical to minimizing turnover and disruption in your workforce. When you invest in creating and maintaining safe spaces where your employees feel valued and appreciated, you will be repaid in loyalty. And at a moment where retention is such a critical need for healthcare employers, the loyalty of your best employees could be the difference between your healthcare organization’s failure or success.

10 Ways to Optimize Healthcare Recruiting and Onboarding Processes