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What is engagement, you ask? Wikipedia explains that “employee engagement is a property of the relationship between an organization and its employees. An ‘engaged employee’ is one who is fully absorbed by and enthusiastic about their work and so takes positive action to further the organization’s reputation and interests.” Simply put, it signifies the extra effort that employees are willing to put forth. In the greater arena of employment, the more engaged the employee, the greater the eagerness to learn, the more commitment to the organization, and the greater rate of retention. Those with better engagement become the movers and shakers of the organization. In healthcare, engagement takes on a more crucial role; research shows a direct correlation between employee engagement and quality of patient care.
Need some convincing on a concept that lacks a wealth of statistical proof? A summation of figures from the National Database of Nursing Quality Indicators (NDNQI) found that “a 25% increase in nurse job enjoyment over a two-year span was linked with an overall quality of care increase between 5-20%.” Research by The Studer Group found that when nurse turnover rates fell significantly below the average at acute-care hospitals, there was a decrease in patient hospital stays by 1.2 days. Furthermore an in-depth Gallup study discovered that higher nurse engagement scores resulted in statistically lower incidents of complications and patient mortality. Lower nurse engagement scores correlate with higher malpractice fees: According to Gallup, “hospitals with the least engaged nurses pay more than $1.1 million annually in malpractice claims.”
As is the case with any “engagement,” satisfaction is a key element, and in the case of healthcare workers, employers meeting employees’ most basic needs to do the job right is paramount. And as these statistics show, it is in the best interests of medical staff and patients alike to promote employee engagement in healthcare organizations.
The findings of the engagement surveys show that healthcare organizations are somewhat aware of the need to quantify engagement. However, 25% stated they weren’t measuring engagement at all, while 49% of respondents of a survey by Cornerstone said that employees were either “somewhat engaged” or “not very engaged,“ a figure that bodes poorly for patient care.
What is seen as the biggest deterrent to engagement? Not surprisingly it’s “change” that composed more than half of the reason for lower engagement. This can be translated into a resistance to any transition including new employees, changes in routines or the move toward automation. The Cornerstone survey results showed that “26% of respondents thought the transition to ICD-10, managing HCAHPS, and moving from paper records to electronic records had the biggest negative effect on engagement. Frequent changes of supervisors came in at 25%.” One can translate this to mean that the greater stability within an organization, ie. one within which employees are generally happy, the healthier and more fiscally solid that organization will be.
So, as a supervisor, what can you do to promote employee engagement? Here are a few ideas:
1. Provide your employees with the tools they need – Don’t skimp on the best tools of the trade. It will instill pride in your employees.
2. Offer regular constructive feedback – It will let your team in on how they are doing and will let them know that they count.
3. Be creative with motivation – Offer up dinner for two to the next person who comes up with the best solution to the biggest challenge in your department.
4. Set goals and inspire to reach them – Post a chart and make sure every person has a reasonable goal to reach for.
5. Conduct exit interviews – Even on the way out employees like to know that their opinions count. But don’t wait until then to let them know it.
Now that you’ve got the heads up, we can’t wait to congratulate you on your engagement!