Toward a Best Informed Employee™: And meaningful employee engagement.
Perhaps at no time in history has there been greater pressure on healthcare leadership to initiate, lead and steward change at fundamental levels. Yes, if there was ever a time we need our employees on board, engaged and with the plan, it is now. To state the obvious once more, people truly are the most important asset that a healthcare organization has. Without them, a hospital is merely technology and bricks and mortar. Engaged, they can make anything happen. Disengaged, you can expect frustration across the organization, and very potentially, systemic failure. The stakes are high, and the paths into the future are many. Getting there—successfully, or even, at all—is impossible without engaged employees.
Creating a culture that engages employees is extremely hard work, regardless of the industry; but, that is not to say that it can’t be done. For employees to be engaged and process improvement to be successful, it is vitally important that leadership proactively communicate the vision, what it means to the organization, how each employee is affected and how they can contribute to help make it a reality.
The logical—and well-founded—fear is that adding one more “above and beyond” priority to our employees’ list of things to do could well be the straw that breaks their proverbial backs. Further, hospital cultures are notorious for eating change programs, let alone transformations, for lunch. Given that context, one can only too easily imagine the enormity of the challenge of creating an employee culture that features open dialog, one that is focused on proactive communication, inclusion and an obsession with mission.
Monumental, perhaps. But it can be done. And the value of an engaged employee is well worth the effort: a Best Informed Employee™.
Moreover, to be effective, communication requires more than a mere transfer of information. It requires dialog, and more specifically, communication that builds and engages dialog. In our view, there is no other way. Ironically, too often, organizations may pay lip service to the importance of communication, but do not have the evangelistic commitment to communications necessary for success. They launch employee engagement initiatives with little or no budget for communications and even less of an engagement plan—and then wonder why they don’t see the results they want.
There needs to be a leveraging of strategy and resources to create full engagement and commitment—top-down and bottom-up; inside-out and outside-in. The vision, described with passion and expressed with genuine evangelistic conviction, motivates more effectively than a thousand staff meetings or “smile” programs.
In the end, though, on a day-to-day basis, hospitals provide a lot of good care. They have great people who really do care about what they do. And some (approximately 20%) are already engaged. The $64,000 question is how to engage the rest—or more accurately, how to engage more of them, because while some are already engaged, another 10 to 15% will never be engaged. The secret to success lies with the middle 65%.
Our view is that the desirable and realistic objective for many hospitals and healthcare systems is to create an employee engagement model that also stimulates trial and cross-experience within the facility and/or system while it builds employee loyalty—one designed to get important and key clinical and organizational information directly into the hands of employees at strategically chosen touch points.
It’s the keystone of a Best Informed Employee™.
Improving employee engagement and satisfaction, creating employee loyalty, is a sound business strategy that can be driven and enabled by communication. Engagement can’t be achieved from the sidelines. Engagement is fueled by the people on the line. It is based on metrics and evidence, and it must be empowered, understood, supported and monitored by the CEO, the Leadership Team, the Medical Staff and the Board of Directors. Clear, open communication lines between and among all stakeholders are essential to success.
Achieving strategic intent begins with clear intentions, manifests itself through effective communications, clear accountability and measurable targets, and results in tangible improvement across key metrics. Moreover, central to engaging employees in achieving strategic intent is a genuine commitment to making effective communication an integral part of strategic planning and execution.
Because people are over loaded with information today, it’s important to determine and prioritize what outcomes are desired; then, in order to realize those outcomes, what strategic information each stakeholder group wants to know, what they need to know, what is expected or desired of them, and finally how best to deliver that information to them efficiently, consistently and effectively. Best Informed Employee™ acknowledges and respects the concerns and wants of employees at all stages of engagement and creates meaningful dialog—opportunities driven by strategic communication—at key touch points.
In each case, it is important to examine and be responsive to the employee’s needs at that specific touch point. Applying strategic communications against these touch points can remarkably improve employee engagement and satisfaction, and even outcomes. That thinking and opinion, that definition of, and delivery on, Best Informed Employee™, shapes our approach to brand development, communications planning and marketing communications execution for all of our healthcare clients
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