Stephanie Burton

3 ways to improve engagement in your health system today

By Stephanie Burton on September 24, 2013

In Paul Spiegelman and Britt Berrett’s book controversially titled, “Patients Come Second,” they lead with a simple premise: “The more our employees are engaged, the more satisfied our patients will be – which will then lead to more and more business for the organization. It’s really that simple.”

[pullquote align=”right”] The question is no longer why we need to create engaged workforces, but how we can create engaged workforces.  [/pullquote]

Let’s take a cue from an old friend many of us know: The Gallup Organization. In the early 1990s, Gallup identified 12 factors, known as the Gallup Q12, that indicate an employee’s level of engagement. Here are three questions that appear on the survey (Likert scale format) and ways you can help move the needle.

I have a best friend at work

My biggest fear entering high school was that no one would eat lunch with me. The difference between high school and the corporate world is that in high school, we’re stuck; when we have a job, we can always find another one if we don’t connect with those around us. It’s true: having a best friend at work gives us another reason to wake up in the morning; want to stick around and (gasp!) have fun while working.

Twice a year, take time to allow people in your immediate workgroup to interact about things that have nothing to do with working in healthcare. And, do this during work hours so you can capture some of the folks who might not otherwise be able to participate in a social activity. Go to a ballgame. Participate in happy hour. Plan a potluck. Talk. Make friends. Repeat.

In the past six months, someone has talked to me about my progress

Our parents’ generation readily accepted the idea of the “annual review.” Often, that was the only feedback they received for their performance.

Times have changed. According to Millennials vs. Baby Boomers: Who Would You Rather Hire?, a Time Magazine article written by Dan Schawbel, “… millennials aren’t fans of having to wait six months or a year to get a formal review of their work. Boomers, on the other hand, are more likely to prefer a structured system where feedback is given at certain times of the year.”

The solution: schedule regular meetings with your employees to review the status of their goals. It keeps them accountable and, more importantly, engaged.

I have the materials and equipment I need to do my work right

Do you remember that scene in Office Space when three disgruntled employees took a faulty fax machine behind the office and beat it with a baseball bat? Um, yeah … If your employees don’t have the proper materials and equipment to do their jobs, they turn their focus to what they need instead of what they need to do.

Ask your employees this question during regular one-on-one meetings: “Do you have the materials and equipment you need to do your work right?” Then, act on their requests, within reason (not to worry – no one in health care has ever needed a Ferrari to do his or her job better).

Increased engagement among employees is a key benefit of building brand alignment – aligning your internal brand with your external messaging. Develop ways for your employees to understand, commit to and live your brand and you will strengthen it exponentially … and drive increased productivity at all levels of your organization.

How have you worked to create a more engaged workforce?


Stephanie Hungerford, APR, is a healthcare marketing strategist at Core Creative. Follow Stephanie on Twitter @shungerford.