C-suite leaders in the healthcare industry have long been interested in ways to improve their hospital performance. Now, studies show that one factor with a profound positive impact on meeting your business goals is increasing staff engagement in their jobs. HBR’s research showed that higher employee engagement levels can improve outcomes such as:
- Hospital costs (Any legal action taken by a patient against a hospital for negligent complications)
- Treatment effectiveness and patient outcomes (Measured by the rate patients are readmitted)
- The level of hospital acquired infections and conditions (Surgical complications, etc)
The research also found that just a small increase (1%) in employee engagement leads to a 3% reduction in hospital acquired complications and a 7% reduction in hospital readmissions. In addition to this, research supports that the quality and care with which their company leaders engage their healthcare employees influences key aspects of the care those employees go on to provide.
Simply put, employee engagement initiatives lead to better patient care. And if you treat your employees right, they'll in turn treat their patients right.
It's clear that C-suite leaders need to act now if they want to see improvements in hospital performance. But how can hospital leaders improve employee engagement among their staff?
Well, there are a few key employee engagement trends in healthcare that organizations should keep an eye on, which our experts have delved into in this handy guide.
Trend 1: Moving towards consistent & clear communication
Our research has found that almost one-fifth of frontline workers state they don’t receive relevant communications from their employer organization. Our research also found that over one-third (34%) of workers can’t easily access workplace systems on their mobile, nearly 2 in 10 aren’t using their intranet, and of those, two-thirds don’t know how to.
But, so what? What does this downward trend in effective comms mean for leaders of healthcare organizations? Well, it turns out that ineffective communications can actually have a negative impact on patient safety, a critical concern for anyone in the healthcare sector. As NIMH states:
"When health care professionals are not communicating effectively, patient safety is at risk for several reasons: lack of critical information, misinterpretation of information, unclear orders over the telephone, and overlooked changes in status."
On the flip side, consistent, clear and transparent communication within a healthcare organization creates highly engaged employees, which in turn improves the quality of care your employees provide their patients.
So, if your paper announcement boards, sporadic emails and disparate communication tools are no longer working to effectively engage your staff, don’t just brush it under the carpet. With the pressure on for HR and IT leaders to digitize, a mobile-first, all-in-one approach to employee engagement can provide the perfect solution to both problems.
When using mobile communication tools, you are able to easily and directly communicate with your frontline staff. Whether it’s instant company updates and news to the palm of their hands, simplified and secure document access at the drop of a hat, or direct and open two-way communication channels available 24/7, a mobile-first approach is a great way to engage and empower your healthcare employees – and improve patient safety.
Trend 2: Actioning employee feedback
Whilst consistent communication will be vital to your employee engagement levels, you can’t simply provide workers with the means for communication and expect improved engagement. You have to use your communications channels to truly listen to, and action feedback from, your workforce in order to engage them.
Not only does this show your staff that their opinions matter, but it can also improve the overall work culture and job satisfaction within your healthcare organization, as they feel more autonomy over their work.
And the benefits don’t end there. Research from HR healthcare found that 60% of healthcare workers claim listening to employees drives changes for a more progressive business. Additionally highlighted in HR Healthcare's research, effective employee feedback has been found critical for improving patient employee environments.
As such, by perceiving employee engagement as an outcome-related effort in which patients themselves are directly affected by its success, healthcare leaders can better understand the impact that their engagement initiatives have on the overall patient experience.
Unfortunately, current trends in healthcare seem to be working away from these potential benefits. Our recent employee engagement statistics highlight that 87% of healthcare workers believe their employer should do more to listen to the needs of their workforce, and nearly 4 in 10 workers don’t feel that their feedback will be acted on.To combat this, leaders need to do more to ensure they are consistently making efforts to collect and act on direct employee feedback.
Finding the right employee engagement tools to facilitate clear communication around worker issues will be important, but one key feature you should look out for when it comes to worker feedback is Employee Surveys. By creating customized and targeted surveys for key demographics, departments and employees in your workforce, you can show them that their input is valued and taken into account when the big decisions are made.
Trend 3: Driving employee recognition
According to research, recognition is a key driver for healthcare worker engagement.
However, our research shows that nearly 4 in 10 (37%) healthcare workers don’t feel as valued as their desk-based colleagues. This is a huge missed opportunity for healthcare organizations, as recognizing and rewarding your frontline staff not only boosts morale and job satisfaction, but can improve patient care as well.
A simple shout-out or a direct message goes a long way in showing your appreciation for your employees' hard work, but a one-on-one approach shows the organization is willing to go the extra mile to show they care about their team members.
Ask your team questions about how they like to receive feedback. Do they prefer you shout it from the rooftops or keep it private? If your organization uses rewards, does your teammate prefer gift cards or meals? Asking these questions will provide you many options to meaningfully recognise employees.
Other ideas include:
- Recognition events (paid for team lunch or dinners etc)
- Providing development opportunities
- Personalized rewards
- Giving managers exposure to senior leaders.
At the end of the day, taking the time to recognize and appreciate your employees' efforts will go a long way in improving the overall employee experience – and your engagement levels will follow suit.
Trend 4: Understanding quiet quitting
While it's not a new concept to the healthcare sector, quiet quitting—where employees slowly disengage and eventually leave their job without giving notice—is a growing problem in the industry.
Unfortunately, Gallup found that 32% of US employees were actively engaged at work in 2022 (compared with 34% in 2021) and that the largest decline in engagement was found among health care professionals, who realized a 9 point drop in engagement scores year-on-year. Some reasons cited for employees becoming disengaged include:
- They receive poor communication from management
- They don't believe management has their best interests in mind
- They feel a lack of autonomy and control
- They do not have the resources needed to career out their role effectively
- They face little or no career advancement opportunities.
In addition to this, another recent survey found that 61% of physicians are currently experiencing burnout, and when asked about the cause, 62% of physicians blamed their current employer. The impact of this on the healthcare industry has been drastic.
The true impact of the quiet-quitting trend in healthcare
This phenomenon can have detrimental impacts to your healthcare organization, as it not only results in decreased productivity and higher turnover/low retention rates, but also requires additional resources—and costs—to recruit and train new staff members.
Jeremy Sadlier, executive director of the American Society for Healthcare Human Resources Administration, commented on how this trend is playing out in hospitals all over the US:
“Ultimately, this trend has the potential to make a significant impact in the industry. Any lack of engagement on the part of staff ultimately impacts patient care, teamwork, safety and throughput, all of which impact the financial health of an organization and the patient experience.
It's incredibly important for leaders to focus on engagement, growth opportunities, and to recognize and reward hard work. These are a few ways to focus on your employees to help them feel engaged with their work."
In order to combat this growing trend, healthcare leaders should prioritize open communication with their staff to address any concerns or issues that may be causing employees to disengage in the first place. By understanding and addressing these issues with strong engagement initiatives, healthcare organizations can prevent quiet quitting and improve the entire employee experience.
Another way to tackle the quiet-quitting crisis, Forbes suggests, is that leaders humanize work. This could include offering flexibility and autonomy in the workplace, as well as recognizing and valuing employee contributions and investing in a mobile-first, intuitive solution to healthcare employee engagement.
Trend 5: Pushing diversity, equity & inclusion
One trend we're seeing in the healthcare industry is a greater focus on creating a diverse and inclusive workforce, as well as providing DEI training for employees.
And it's not only a recent trend. According to one study, the number of HR leaders identifying DEI efforts as a top priority was 1.8 times higher in 2020 than in 2019. In 2021 leaders indicated that “setting goals and tracking DEI progress through metrics” was one of their two top priorities for the year.
This trend is supported by further research from Deloitte, who surveyed 20 CEOs within the healthcare industry to find that addressing and improving health equity was one of their top goals. But why is that?
By promoting diversity and inclusion in the workplace at every level, healthcare organizations can improve employee engagement levels by making all staff members feel valued and respected. In turn, this can lead to improved patient care and better overall organizational practices.
Rola Aamar, PhD, Senior Clinical Effectiveness Consultant at Relias states:
“Commitment to consistent DEI initiatives, especially training, not only is important for patient safety and better health outcomes, but also can be key for retaining qualified, engaged employees. Organizations that create and promote inclusive work environments and consistently let staff know that DEI is a priority are the ones that are most likely to reduce moral injury and burnout among staff.”
Research has also shown that diverse patients who see themselves in the healthcare workforce, are more likely to trust their healthcare provider. This in turn leads them to be able to communicate better about their condition, more likely to understand and follow treatment plans, and overall are more satisfied with their healthcare.
It really does matter at every level.
DEI is important at every level, with CEOs recognising and pushing it forward this trickles down into other levels of management right down to the frontline.
In their 2021 State of Healthcare Training and Staff Development Report Relias found that over half of respondents indicated that their organization was moving to actively address DEI-related issues. However, only 40% of those with DEI training require managers to participate.
With this in mind, healthcare business leaders need to take action now: review your organization's current DEI practices, set goals for improvement, and make a plan to implement them effectively.
And don't forget to regularly track and assess your progress along the way. Consider utilizing resources such as DEI training programs, diversity consulting services, and healthcare employee surveys to gather feedback and ensure your DEI efforts are truly making a positive impact.
Trend 6: Prioritizing mental health and wellbeing
The mental health and wellbeing of your healthcare workforce has to be a priority if you want to succeed as an organization. However, historically, the healthcare sector has seen elevated stress levels.
As Frontier’s research states:
Numerous factors contribute to elevated stress among healthcare workers, including heavy workloads, long shifts, a high pace, lack of physical or psychological safety, chronicity of care, moral conflicts, perceived job security, and workplace related bullying or lack of social support.
And this elevated stress isn't without its challenges. Physician burnout and caregiver stress is a real issue and, according to Frontier's research, work-related stress can have a negative impact on health care providers' professionalism, quality of care delivery, efficiency, and overall quality of life.
As such, it is critical that leaders in the healthcare sector are prioritizing the mental health and wellbeing of their employees. This includes offering direct and easy access to communication solutions to allow employees to reach out for support when needed, support resources such as employee assistance programs and crisis resources, mindfulness/resilience training, and flexible work schedules.
Whilst mental health should be a key focus, you can’t neglect physical safety.
In the quote above, Frontier cited “lack of physical safety” as one of the factors that contribute to stress. This is supported by research from NSC which found 40% of people who reported feeling “very” unsafe at work reported having symptoms of depression all or most days, while only 1% of people who felt very safe at work reported the same.
From the research, there are 3 key ways frontline safety can impact mental health:
- Employees who feel unsafe at work are more likely to experience symptoms of depression and anxiety.
- Employees who feel the most unsafe at work are also the most likely to meet the criteria for clinical diagnosis of mental illness.
- Feeling unsafe at work impacts employees on and off the clock. The feelings they have at work can follow them home.
By prioritizing the mental health and wellbeing of healthcare workers, organizations can improve overall employee engagement levels and decrease burnout rates, in turn driving patient care success and overall organizational success.
So let's take action now and prioritize the mental health and wellbeing of our healthcare employees. It's time to put an end to burnout and promote a culture of support within our organizations. The benefits, for both our employees and our patients, are worth it.
Trend 7: Using people analytics tools
People analytics tools are gaining traction in the healthcare industry, as they offer a way to track and measure employee engagement levels, analyze performance data, and inform HR decision-making. With the rising trend of big data and analytics in the healthcare sector, these tools can offer valuable insights to organizational leaders.
Deloitte tells us that with people analytics, healthcare organizations can:
- Increase employee satisfaction.
- View employees as a critical and valuable asset in the supply chain; an asset that can be analyzed and optimized to benefit individuals and the company as a whole
- Uncover opportunities to transform HR practices and optimize talent-focused programs.
By utilizing people analytics tools, healthcare organizations can gather valuable insight to inform and improve their HR strategies, ultimately driving employee engagement and overall organizational success.
Healthcare firms are also using people analytics to increase profitability, as employee engagement has been proven to be a strong predictor of financial performance.
With Blink's Frontline Intelligence, healthcare organizations can analyze and track employee engagement, satisfaction, and other key metrics in real time, using them to guide their employee engagement initiatives and reach their goals.
Unfortunately, Healthcare networks can be complicated enough, without staff having to download and juggle a number of different employee systems.
The Blink mobile-first employee app connects them to core industry apps in seconds, without requiring a password. From shift scheduling to PPE requests to Sharepoint, everything's ready for your staff in one (digital) dashboard.
By providing a platform to help you stay on top of the latest trends, facilitate communication, and track performance and satisfaction, we can help drive HR success within your organization. With Blink, you can achieve:
- 10X higher communication rate using an employee app
- 300% increase in feedback through survey responses
- Higher employee retention and engagement
- People analytics to focus on burnout and DE&I initiatives.
So why wait? As healthcare leaders, it’s vital that you keep up with the latest trends and take action to improve employee engagement within your organization. And we can help you do just that.
Want to learn more? Check out one of our healthcare client testimonials below to see how we helped them.
Healthcare employee engagement trends FAQs
What are some recent trends with employee engagement?
There is no one-size-fits-all solution for improving employee engagement, as it will vary based on individual organizations and their unique needs. However, some steps that can be taken include offering support resources for mental health and wellbeing, implementing diversity and inclusion initiatives, prioritizing communication and recognition, and using people analytics tools to gather insights on employee engagement levels.
It's also important to continuously assess and reevaluate employee engagement strategies in order to constantly improve and drive success for the organization.
How can employee engagement be improved in 2023?
There is no one-size-fits-all solution for improving employee engagement, as it will vary based on individual organizations and their unique needs.
However, some steps that can be taken include offering support resources for mental health and wellbeing, implementing diversity and inclusion initiatives, prioritizing communication and recognition, and using people analytics tools to gather insights on employee engagement levels.
It's also important to continuously assess and reevaluate employee engagement strategies in order to constantly improve and drive success for the organization.
What are the top 5 drivers of employee engagement?
While this may vary depending on the organization and their unique needs, some of the top drivers of employee engagement can include feeling valued as an employee, opportunities for growth and development, effective communication, and a positive work culture.
By addressing these factors and consistently assessing and improving upon them, healthcare organizations can drive employee engagement and overall success as a healthcare provider.