Successful healthcare organizations keep employee morale high


The workforce burnout and retention crisis has dominated healthcare for the past three years, but data is (finally) showing some encouraging trends. According to the survey responses given in the last three years, the “participation” of the workforce is declining and the “resilience” is improving. The data shows a widening of the spectrum – with big differences between organizations where employee morale and retention continue to slide. This article contains some best practices that have the potential to turn a vicious cycle into a virtuous one.

Survey findings

The following analyzes are based on 1.6 million survey responses from employees of US healthcare organizations (including more than 121,500 physicians) in 2020, 2021 and 2022 by our company Press Ganey. When it was burning Worse for all health care professionalsThree additional metrics provide a more complete picture of what’s happening in healthcare:


The downward trend in engagement, which measures employees’ emotional attachment to the organization and their willingness to go above and beyond their job description to meet the needs of patients and colleagues, has been flat over the past year. Using a five-point scale, participation dropped .10 in the year the epidemic began (2021 calendar year) — the largest decline in participation caregivers saw by Press Genie, but the decline slowed, dropping only .02 in 2022.

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The rate of alignment decline was similarly flat., It is assessed by measures that reflect providers’ perceptions of their relationship with organizational leadership. For example, if they do not feel respected or have their voice heard in decisions that affect their actions, even if they are proud, they will not feel aligned with the organization. This helps to explain why many female doctors leave.


In the year There were some improvements in recovery in 2022: the ability to find meaning in work (enable) and fill up when you are away from workDecomposition). (look out This column (specific surveys used to measure both.) The good news is that activation has been stable for everyone in health care throughout the outbreak. These are good people who started doing good. But the best news is that the decay will improve in 2022 after two years of severe decline. This data suggests that caregivers are learning how to cope with the stresses of this age, their organizations are doing a better job of supporting them, or both.

These three encouraging trends don’t apply to everyone. Our data shows the gap between the top 10% of organizations with workforce participation and the bottom 10%. In short, employee engagement is improving in many organizations, while others are getting worse. The data suggests that some organizations are caught in a vicious cycle in which stress leads to burnout, which leads to poor performance, and which leads to high stress. But other organizations (or subsets of those organizations) find that pride among caregivers leads to better engagement, which leads to better performance, which leads to pride.

The picture that emerges from this data is that health care has a lot of hard-working and dedicated people, but under the right circumstances, they still have a lot to give. What are these exact conditions? Data from organizations provides insights into high workforce participation.

High performers outperformed others in five specific domains: support and trust from senior management, recognition of employee contributions, respect and participation in decision-making, manageable workloads, and adequate staffing.

How do we go from vicious cycle to decency? By implementing these steps:

Listen carefully.

The first thing organizations and their leaders can do (and can do) is listen and understand the challenges their individual employees and leaders face. what do you mean. Exactly Listening has changed during the pandemic. It no longer means going out for a “leadership walk” every year or two for a midday shift at work, or the occasional town hall. It not only collects more information, but also includes it at the same time Showing off The workers you are doing like this.

today, Exactly Listening requires a significant shift in the frequency, breadth and depth of listening that can be achieved thanks to technology. For example, new tools allow managers to conduct pulse surveys focused on specific issues or specific groups of employees and highlight opportunities to meet their specific needs. Virtual focus groups and digital communities can “bring together” employees facing similar challenges and provide both communication and opportunity to work together and solve common problems.

Crowdsourcing technology allows managers and leaders to engage their front lines in identifying solutions to problems and prioritizing which solutions to start with. By using artificial intelligence (AI) and natural language to organize employee feedback to reveal both challenges and successes, both create an opportunity to fix the problems and measure existing successful solutions. Many leaders shudder at the idea of ​​censoring employees when they know the comments will be hurtful, but actually listening is a sign of respect.

Make engagement and safety a priority.

While each organization has different and unique results from its listening efforts, high-performing organizations all have one thing in common: senior leaders (often including their boards) prioritize the importance of employee engagement and well-being. They recognize that an engaged and healthy workforce is critical to providing excellent patient care and reducing patient suffering.

These high performers hold themselves accountable to improve each year and invest to support this improvement. While they rely heavily on their HR leaders, they engage leadership across the organization, including nursing, physician, and quality and safety leaders, to address these issues together.

Focus on three areas of improvement.

Next, almost all high-performing organizations focus on doing these things:

Encourage self-care.

Methods to support individuals should emphasize the importance of self-care – something that is lacking in health care. Organizations need to share positive feedback from colleagues, leaders and patients (and most patient feedback). is it. positive) to show organizational gratitude and respect.

Organizations should invest in peer support programs so that colleagues can identify the pain in their ranks and design solutions to help them. And they must continue to evolve from a traditional in-person workplace to one that embraces hybrid or remote work—an evolution that introduces complexity for managers but increases resilience for employees.

Support leaders and teams.

After listening, the best organizations take their data and go deeper. They identify more disruptive groups and struggling leaders. They support managers of these departments in developing improvement plans to address specific issues identified through surveys, focus groups, and other listening approaches.

Developing leaders and building teams is a critical method for maintaining virtuous cycles. This requires investments in coaching and more structured training. Leaders must learn to focus on the skills needed to build trust and confidence so that new leaders have the skills to support and build their teams. Ultimately, the goal of leaders is to create a psychologically safe environment where people around them feel comfortable speaking up and communicating and actively contributing to improvement.

Fix broken systems and processes.

Finally, high-performing organizations demonstrate a commitment to correcting deficiencies in the systems and processes currently in place. They fix broken processes, leverage technology and build teams so everyone can work smarter. And they know that to solve these problems they need to include the voice of the front. To solve the problems, they have developed reliable procedures so that people close to the work can be supported. Many organizations have accepted The approach of GROSS (“Getting rid of the stupid stuff”) and put processes in place to listen to their front lines and implement solutions. Others are leveraging new collection technology that allows employees to come up with new solutions to challenges revealed by surveys each year. These organizations use these inputs to fuel the way forward.

This ongoing review of systems and processes should be built into the organizational framework of health care providers. This type of approach is one that many organizations are already taking to build a culture of safety and improve quality outcomes for patients. In order to retain the amazing people who continue to work in health care, organizational efforts must now be implemented to improve engagement and resilience.

Organizational leadership that embraces an integrated strategy of truly listening to employees and patients, developing their leaders, and continuously improving work processes drives the journey of pride and engagement necessary to sustain the virtuous cycle.


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