The turnover rate in the healthcare industry is a well-known challenge for practice administrators. In this post, we’ll explore a few ways you can improve healthcare employee satisfaction at your practice.
Healthcare professionals recognize that an array of factors influence patient health, safety, and satisfaction. However, while adopting state-of-the-art technology, recruiting top specialists, and creating preventative health programs tend to get the spotlight, there’s an often-overlooked variable with wide-reaching consequences: employee satisfaction and engagement.
Robust employee engagement has been linked to significant improvements in patient care and satisfaction. Enhancing your employee’s experience results in:
- Higher patient satisfaction
- Improved call center efficiency
- Reduced turnover
- A greater bottom line
With this realization in mind, most medical practices start with easy-to-implement solutions like compensation and benefits, which tend to only impact the short term. A critical, yet often forgotten strategy, is to add development opportunities beyond role-specific skills training to enhance the employee experience and nurture engagement on the job.
Below, we break down 5 ways to improve employee satisfaction within your healthcare organization.
1. Collect Employee Feedback
To enhance your practice’s culture and employee satisfaction, it’s always good to know where you might already be falling short. Implementing tools to help you gather feedback from your staff will provide valuable information, so you can adapt and deliver results that employees want.
We recently built and implemented a full, ongoing employee engagement program for a large orthopaedic practice that included 100 face-to-face interviews with their employees (click for a podcast recap detailing what we found).
The exercise has proven to be invaluable in terms of creating a positive workplace culture, improving communication flow between clinic and admin departments, and hearing from front-line staff. Since then, we have expanded on the program and are implementing multiple, simultaneous programs with other practices.
2. Create an Employee Development Plan
Employees who feel uncertain about career growth in their current positions will gravitate toward organizations that offer more certainty for the future or an immediate advancement. However, if your staff feels their career path ahead is clear and marked with milestones, they will have something toward which to work. They will believe their contribution has a positive impact on the practice and that you value and benefit from their efforts.
You can begin by developing a plan for your practice that defines all roles and the related skills required for each position. Clearly explain how having engaged employees in those positions contributes to everyone’s success. From there, you will be equipped to design individual plans that support your larger organizational goals and align with an employee’s current role, skills, and career goals.
Work with each employee to define the path that best serves their needs and those of the practice and its patients. Also, lay out the precise milestones a staff member will need to attain to realize the plan. With defined and measurable goals, each member of your staff will understand what’s expected of them and what they’ll be measured against to be considered successful. Managers can also use goals to keep employees on track, which will improve their performance, and by extension, overall satisfaction with their jobs.
3. Prioritize Training and Development
Employees who have access to meaningful training and development opportunities are more engaged. Moreover, research has found that consistent development opportunities can decrease employee turnover and produce up to twice the revenue per worker.
There are a myriad of reasons why medical practices should invest in the development of their people. Perhaps the most compelling argument is that it costs a lot more—as much as 150% of an employee’s annual salary—to recruit new talent than it does to develop existing employees. The costs of recruiting a new employee may include interviewing, lost productivity, reference checks, drug testing, lost knowledge, and onboarding costs.
Investing in talent development is critical for medical practice administrators, because it directly affects employee retention, motivation, engagement, and productivity. Millennial employees, in particular, are lifelong learners and are likely to look elsewhere if their employers fail to give them opportunities to learn and acquire new skills. Also, connecting performance management and learning opportunities keeps employees prepared with the latest skills needed to provide the best care to patients.
Here is an example that illustrates how investing in your employees can pay off in terms of patient satisfaction. A large orthopaedic practice (with 9 locations and over 25 physicians) implemented an ongoing employee engagement and training program at their practice. The results of the training program were striking:
- The practice received almost three times the number of positive online reviews since the training program started
- More than 90% of employee participants said the training was beneficial and helped them understand their role at the practice
- 77% of employee participants said they’re now better equipped to do their job
4. Align Employee and Organizational Goals
Healthcare workers generally enter the field because they have a strong passion for helping others. Communicate your practice’s mission clearly and consistently, so employees have a strong reference point from which to set their personal goals. Set your employees up for success by providing the necessary resources, whether it’s a mentorship program or training sessions for specific skills. Connecting employees’ passion for their work with the practice’s goals results in strengthened employee loyalty and improved performance.
5. Add Some Fun!
Never underestimate the value of having a good time. Your employees spend the majority of their waking days in your office, and they deserve to enjoy themselves from time to time (…wink wink).
Adding some fun to your culture enhances employee relationships, boosts morale, and doesn’t have to come at the expense of productivity. How you add fun into your practice will largely depend on the size of your organization, but here are a few ideas:
- Have casual Fridays
- Throw a party (for birthdays or anniversaries)
- Have a contest
- Organize a potluck meal
- Give back to the community
- Organize a “fun” committee to come up with ideas for both inside and outside of work
With almost a third of your practice expenses (32%) devoted to salary, training, and providing benefits to your employees, it makes good sense for you to invest in making them as happy as possible. Remember, your employees are the reason you’re able to open your doors every day. Celebrate them and their contributions, and they, in turn, will celebrate their happiness among your patients.