3 tips for solving health care disengagement

Employee engagement among health care workers is dangerously low, and it’s crucial that leaders start making changes.

We’d like to think workers in the health care field are satisfied with their jobs, but unfortunately that isn’t the case.

A report on employee engagement shows health care ranks dead last among 17 industries profiled. From 2014 to 2015, health care dropped six places and experienced a negative 3.8 percentage point shift in engaged employees—down to 56.7 percent engagement.

Here are three ways to bring health care employee engagement back to life:

1. Address the causes of turnover.

A study on hospital CEO turnover by the American College of Healthcare Executives (ACHE) surveyed 300 hospitals and found the turnover rate held steady at 18 percent. Though lower than the record high of 20 percent in 2013, it remains consistent with the rate in 2014.

ACHE believes turnover is still up due to increased consolidation (mergers and acquisitions), complex regulations, retiring Baby Boomers and a lack of succession planning.

When CEOs leave, it’s not just an expensive process to replace them; it becomes an expensive process to replace others due to secondary turnover. If employees see their leaders jumping ship, they may feel it’s necessary to do the same.

To understand the ripple effect that employee turnover creates, survey your staff when a co-worker or employee leaves. Paired with the data you collect from exit interviews, peer feedback offers additional insight into turnover, fears or concerns about others leaving, and retention opportunities.

2. Create a place of recognition and value.

Even though most of us recognize the importance of our health care employees, some leaders may not be giving them the appropriate amount of recognition. Other key findings from the employee engagement survey showed that when organization leaders value people as their most important resource, health care employee engagement increases. Without recognition, engagement will continue to dwindle.

Tailor a recognition system that reflects your mission statement and values to show employees their hard work is being not only acknowledged but also appreciated as a crucial part of the company’s success.

3. Give them something to believe in.

The next generation is here, and they’re ready to make an impact. As of 2015, about one-third (34 percent) of the workforce was composed of millennials, according to a study by Pew Research Center. By 2020, millennials will represent half of America’s workers.

This means that dealing with retention and talent shortages relies on understanding what motivates this younger generation. Unfortunately, Gallup’s 2016 How Millennials Want to Work and Live report found that only 29 percent of millennials are engaged at work.

What motivates millennial engagement? They want to create a better world.

A 2016 report of more than 75,000 participants found that 90 percent of millennials think they can help make the U.S. a better place to live.

Discuss improvement initiatives throughout the organization to encourage employees that the future of the company is moving in the right direction. Health care employees are driven by seeing a connection between their work and the greater good.

Survey employees, asking where they feel improvement is necessary. Implementing changes based on survey results will show them they can trust and believe in the future of the organization.

Allow your team the opportunity to communicate their frustrations, questions and concerns to bring engagement to a heightened level in your organization.

Greg Harris is president and CEO of Quantum Workplace . You can connect with Greg and the Quantum Workplace team on LinkedIn , Twitter and Facebook .

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