I’ve written before about how nowhere is employee engagement more important than in customer service. This only becomes 100% more important when the customers are patients and the service being provided is life-saving care. Engaged employees are more likely to follow proper safety procedures, go above and beyond to provide the best care, and show compassion for patients and their families.
HCAHPS survey scores have increasingly become a focus for hospitals, as The Center for Medicaid Services (CMS) pays them based on patients’ perceived quality of care as measured by the survey, which measures aspects like staff communication, responsiveness, pain management, care transition, cleanliness, quietness, and willingness to recommend.
So how can hospitals work to engage their employees and ensure that patients experience the best possible care?
- Make staff training a top priority: Hospital employees must be up to date on policies and procedures. Managers of others should be trained to become effective people managers, which requires skills apart from those that made them exceptional caregivers.
- Elicit frequent feedback from employees and make changes where needed: Many times systems or procedures are implemented from above with the best of intentions, but they make life harder for those who have to work with them on a daily basis. Workers who are on the front lines with patients can become frustrated when obstacles are placed between them and the ability to provide excellent care. Make sure you remove as many of those obstacles as possible.
- Clearly and consistently communicate hospital core values and priorities: All employees should be aware of expectations and goals. They should be part of employee orientation and training, be posted where they are visible to everyone, and align with promotions and other rewards so that practicing them is reinforced positively.
- Implement a formal employee recognition and engagement program that includes patient feedback: Employee recognition is an essential part of any engagement strategy, but just asking people to say “thank you” to one another is not enough. A formal employee recognition program that aligns with the hospital’s core values should be a part of your engagement strategy. Patients should be able to submit their own feedback as well, since they are the ones who know best how hard your employees are working on their behalf.
- Never let up: Employee engagement is not an initiative or a program; it needs to be a guiding philosophy around everything management does. If you take care of your employees first, they will take care of your patients.