Employee Surveys: Best Practices for Driving Better Patient Care
As healthcare organizations look at different ways to improve patient care, employee surveys remain an important part of the mix. Employee surveys are a great way to get a feel for what’s going on at your organization, identify areas for improvement in employee engagement and performance, and discover ways to improve patient outcomes and satisfaction.
“The correlation between employee engagement and patient satisfaction has been well documented, which gives credence to conducting employee surveys, but only if you are committed to taking action on what is learned,” says Kristin Baird, President/CEO of the Baird Group.
Make it Easy to Respond
You want to get as many responses as possible, so make it easy for people to take your survey. “Online surveys are ideal,” says Mitchell Best, CEO of Physician Wellness Services. With online surveys, people can take them anywhere and anytime that’s convenient for them.
You should also ensure anonymity and confidentiality for employees who participate in the survey. “You’re more likely to get a higher level of participation if responses can be collected anonymously,” Best says.
Include Questions About Care
Most employee surveys ask about drivers of employee engagement -- how people feel about working there. But Baird says healthcare employee surveys should go beyond that. “In addition to questions about their manager, communication and leadership vision, the survey should include questions about the employees’ confidence in the care delivered and whether or not they would recommend the organization as a good place to work.”
These questions can provide insight into how your care providers feel about the quality of care. “Asking employees if they would come to the facility themselves or bring their families for care speaks volumes about their confidence in the care. If they wouldn’t come for care, they certainly aren’t recommending the facility out in public.”
Another question that can elicit useful responses: Would you recommend the organization as an employer? “If a hospital wants to position itself as the provider of choice and the employer of choice, they are wise to listen to the voice of the employee,” Baird says.
Pay Special Attention to Physicians
As more healthcare organizations move to an employed physician model, consider adding a survey section just for physicians. “It’s important to dig as deeply as possible into specifics,” Best says. “The goal is to learn as much as possible about what physicians find the most important, and where they see gaps with what they’re currently experiencing.” One of the key points from this year’s NAMSS conference is that leading healthcare organizations should prioritize physician alignment in order to be successful in the long-term.
Establish Benchmarks and a Follow-Up Plan
Setting clear benchmarks and establishing accountability around any change initiative is key to make sure it succeeds, Best says. Everyone needs to know who is responsible for certain actions, what the timeframes are, and how progress or success will be measured.
“Develop a road map of what needs to change, then communicate it and act on it,” Best says. “Make the plan as tangible as possible and provide tools and resources to support those who are impacted. Resist any urge to create a quid pro quo between the elements to focus on and specific organizational goals and initiatives.”
Check In and Follow Up
Once you’ve set a benchmark with your survey, it’s important to keep the momentum going by re-surveying the population periodically to track the organization’s progress, Best says. In addition, all results should be communicated honestly and constructively to boost trust in the organization.
Using employee surveys to identify trouble spots in your organization can pay off with more engaged employees and better patient care. Establishing a strong follow-up plan and checking in regularly will help ensure effective change.