Individualized approach to employee engagement improves culture


Baylor Scott & White took the first step, asking each individual to express his or her commitment. Rather than tell them what to do, they were asked what personally drives them, Hinton said.

“Most organizations over-focus on the quality of the product and under-focus on the acceptance of the product,” he said. “If you are going to succeed, you have to have the entire workforce understand the drivers of the business.”

Getting employees to buy in is often more challenging as health systems outsource services and navigate mergers and acquisitions.

Executives and managers tend to focus more on the change, rather than how the workforce needs to transition, said Jim Dunn, chief human resources officer at Atrium Health. It’s all about influence, he said.

“How do you build culture not only within your organization but across contiguous geographies? Communication is key,” Dunn said.

Focusing on change management and the transition process is where human resource executives can add the most value, he added.

It’s important to preserve the micro-cultures at each individual facility as organizations implement change gradually, said Joseph Moscola, senior vice president and chief people officer at Northwell Health.

“We want to preserve that while still infusing the broader culture of Northwell,” he said.

Diversity and inclusion is becoming an increasingly important part of building that culture. But health systems still have a long way to go, said Pamela Abner, vice president and chief administrative officer for the office of diversity and inclusion at Mount Sinai Health System in New York.

People of color tend to be in lower-ranked positions and are largely not decisionmakers. When Abner asked a hospital president about that trend, she said it never really dawned on them, according to Abner.

“I think it is about making people aware and constantly educating,” she said.

“We need to demonstrate the value of diversity to our business outcomes,” said Meg Steele, chief learning and diversity officer at Providence St. Joseph Health.

Providers have explored many different strategies to keep employees around. They have upped their salary and benefit structure, implemented profit-sharing or employee stock ownership plans, or shared the cost of continuing education opportunities.

But attrition is inevitable.

Bon Secours Mercy Health has been honing predictive software that compiles about 70 different criteria to predict whether an employee will leave with 80% to 90% accuracy, Gage said. The system will integrate the workforce planning tool into management’s daily workflow dashboard in January.

“We will know how many nurses we need for the coming year and bake that into our budget,” he said.

Instead of receiving an unwieldy amount of engagement information, managers will have an actionable data set that includes a green, yellow or red light to reflect an employee’s future turnover risk. Then they can drill down on what perceptions of the organization are material and tweak accordingly, Gage said.

The tool also forecasts how many graduates will be coming out of certain markets and what Bon Secours Mercy Health’s capture rate is.

“Then we know the key partnerships to invest in to secure a pipeline,” Gage said.

Systematic changes to an organization’s culture, operations and performance often starts from the top. However, some executives can take that a little too far.

It’s important that top executives remain humble, said April Anthony, CEO of Encompass Home Health & Hospice.

Some CEOs can think they are too important, but there isn’t anything more important than interacting with employees, said Anthony, adding that it builds rapport and boosts performance.

“It doesn’t sound like much, but it is transformational when a CEO gets out from behind their desk and goes to a remote location like La Grande, Ore.,” she said.

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