We all understand the importance of having strong brands. We know that our employees play a pivotal role in a brand's success.
But recent changes in health care reform make us examine internal culture more because it's going to impact our health system's reimbursements.
The Affordable Care Act has established incentives for hospitals that focus on both quality of care and maintenance of high levels of patient
satisfaction. Medicare reimbursements will partly depend on patient satisfaction.
As a consumer of health care and former director of human resources for a Fortune 50 company, there's some work to be done to get health systems
congruent, with highly positive patient experiences.
Ask yourself this question: Can patient satisfaction be consistently high, without satisfied and productive employees?
I don't think so. Health care workers can make or break patient satisfaction. Employees can be a gold mine of information that can improve patient care
and, ultimately, satisfaction. Further, leadership can do a number of things to set the tone for high patient satisfaction, most notably working to
build a culture where the inside behavior is consistent with the external brand message.
Branding plays a special role in service organizations because strong brands increase a patient's trust in service delivery. Jeff Bezos of Amazon says,
"Your brand is what they say about you when you've left the room."
It's time to think about your internal brand and whether your employees are modeling what you stand for in the marketplace. Where might you start? Look
at the current reality:
What is the current organization like?
What key behaviors do we display or not display to each other and to the patient?
Do we live the stated values of the organization?
Do operations, HR, and marketing talk honestly to one another about getting the internal behavior aligned with the external brand messages?
Is everyone on the same page?
How do our employees feel about their work and the organization?
How does this impact patient satisfaction?
Developing an accurate assessment of today requires committed leadership. Change starts at the top.
Does leadership have a clear picture of the future and do they communicate it in a compelling way?
Do employees understand what your brand represents and what the competition is doing?
Do they care?
Does the organization structure operate effectively?
Does everyone understand their role in making it work?
Do you have the right employees with both the talent and passion for their work?
What is your approach to recruiting, on-boarding, and retention?
Are there clear behavioral expectations/values, consistent with your brand that guide employee behavior? Are employees ambassadors for your brand?
Does leadership consistently model these behaviors? (The Mayo Clinic, for example, has an extensive, multi-year enculturation process designed to
instill the organization's values into every associate.)
Do work processes and systems help or hinder the delivery of high quality service and employee satisfaction? (Ask your employees—they will tell
Do employees have the needed resources and authority to serve the customer? Do they feel valued? Are they satisfied with their jobs and
Is this a true service culture with disciplined execution and performance accountability? Does your compensation system reward the right behaviors?
How well are the key elements of the organization (strategy, structure, culture, staff, and systems) aligned to support one another?
Customer experiences create the brand, and building the brand from the inside out requires an honest look at the whole organizational system. It's hard
work, but it's worth it.
This post was written by Steve Atkinson, an HR consultant. This blog first appeared on the Franklin Street blog.