The Future of Employee Engagement: 3 Considerations for Healthcare Organizations

The Future of Employee Engagement: 3 Considerations for Healthcare Organizations
Senior Director of Marketing

Employee engagement is a topic that is often discussed among healthcare HR professionals. In fact, it was last year’s theme for the American Society for Healthcare Human Resources Administration’s (ASHHRA) Annual Conference. According to the latest joint research by PwC and ASHHRA, healthcare organizations are underperforming compared to other industries, with nearly 30 percent of employees leaving within the first year of service. The latest Gallup State of the American Workplace Report indicates that merely 33 percent of the workforce across all industries is engaged, which means there is much room for improvement for healthcare employers.

While I was in Las Vegas this past week for a small conference as a prelude to the HR Tech Conference, I had the opportunity to sit during a session discussing the future of employee engagement and what employers can expect in the coming years. Here are three takeaways from the session titled “What’s Next for Employee Engagement?” from the Influence HR 2017 Conference.

1. Embrace Agility and Establish Clear KPIs

While employers undertake initiatives such as employee engagement surveys to understand their organization’s performance, measuring is only a part of the equation. Employers not only have to do more than an annual engagement survey, but they have to embrace agility and be empowered to take action on the data. “Now HR has to be more agile to make sure they take action much more frequently,” Taro Fukuyama, CEO at Fond, explained during the panel.

Besides becoming more agile, Fukuyama also believes the leadership team should be more involved with this initiative. “Employee engagement needs to be one of the top key performance indicators (KPIs) for the management team,” he says. According to a 2017 Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) article, employers should focus on gaining senior management’s commitment to act on survey results by involving the entire management team in the action-planning process to ensure that changes are made based on employee feedback.

2. Focus on Basic Need Fulfillment

There are multiple avenues to driving employee engagement, but sometimes the solution can be as simple as focusing on basic needs. “Companies need to focus on basic need fulfillment because it is a driver of engagement,” according to Scott Rigby, CEO and Founder of Immersyve, a motivation and engagement consultancy. “It brings together a lot of things, and there are some very predictive and defined models.”

While Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs theory of human motivation has prevailed, a recent article published in the Harvard Business Review suggests employers often focus disproportionately on meeting the physiological needs by way of salaries and benefits while ignoring emotional experiences. “Don’t let the basics of compensation and benefits drive your people strategy or the way you lead,” Susan David, Founder of the Harvard/McLean Institute of Coaching advises in the article. “Your employees deserve much more than a pyramid.”

3. Enable Managers to Positively Impact Well-being and Engagement

According to another of the expert panelists from the session, employers should consider the impact of managers on people’s well-being and how they are connected to drive a team’s well-being. “There’s no reason that so many people should hate their jobs,” Stephanie Camp, VP of Strategy at Limeade, explained during the session. “Invest in managers as the core of how employee engagement can be elevated at [your company],” she advises.

The connection between managers and employee engagement is nothing new, however. Gallup’s 2015 State of the American Manager: Analytics and Advice for Leaders report estimates that managers account for at least 70 percent of the variance in employee engagement scores across business units. Forbes contributor and author of the Type B Manager Victor Lipman provides the following advice for training managers to become better at engagement in a recent article:

  • Recognize and value employees. It just takes a little time and effort and awareness that it makes a difference.
  • Be transparent. Transparency involves open, straightforward communication‒and support from senior management.
  • Create a positive team environment. Understand how different personalities interact and create an open atmosphere where friendships can flourish.

While employee engagement metrics across industries remain low despite some progress, healthcare organizations can make changes that can move the needle in the right direction. One thing is clear: better employee engagement requires the support and buy-in of senior management. Once leadership is on board, healthcare HR can help their organization improve from top to bottom while recognizing the key role that managers play in the process.

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