“Service support is increasingly important. There is a tremendous need for high customer service skills: think hospitality-minded members. We are trying to work with workforce boards and schools to prepare for a better fit for health care for our future.” Amy Barry, SVP and CHRO, Lakeland Regional Health
With service support positions taking an increasingly important role in healthcare, employee engagement and retention is top of mind for HR leaders. Most organizations understand the importance of employee engagement as it relates to morale and turnover, but what let’s take a moment to define an engaged employee.
Employee engagement is the emotional commitment the employee has to the organization and its goals. This emotional commitment means engaged employees actually care about their work and their company. (Forbes, 2012)
The definition of an engaged employee has been confused in recent years. It’s up to administrators and managers to identify the characteristics of an engaged employee according to the organization’s mission and goals. Quite as important, leadership must effectively communicate these characteristics to all departments and units to ensure alignment.
Once you’ve defined the traits and behaviors of an engaged employee, you can develop a strategy to encourage those qualities. While rewards and incentives are important, strive to go beyond the norm and create a positive environment that is unique to your organization. There are a number of ways to build loyalty with frontline employees.
- Share the organization’s mission and vision – It may sound obvious, but employees who feel they are a part of a larger purpose are more likely to exceed expectations.
- Keep employees informed – If you want employees to be actively interested in the organization and its success, update frontline employees on the latest company news, events and performance.
- Offer learning opportunities – By making this available, the organization is sending a clear message that leaders care about employee achievement and development. In a healthcare setting, development programs are also great for team building.
- Recognize positive behaviors and outcomes – When an employee goes above and beyond for a patient, team member or manager, be sure to acknowledge their effort. As part of your feedback, emphasize key skills such as solving problems and communicating effectively.
- Build trust within the team – Frontline employees who trust their managers and peers have a greater appreciation for their jobs. They also pass that respect on to the patients they serve.
- Have fun! – Realistically, it may be that your organization or a single department is not in a position to promote this. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t make it a goal for improvement and communicate that to your employees. Remembering suggestion #2 above, recognize that limitation if you have it and work toward a better day. This goes a long way to supporting #5, as well. People spend a lot of time at work. If they’re having fun, they’ll enjoy being there, have an upbeat attitude and build long-lasting bonds with others.
Frontline employees with high morale perform their best and have a desire to advance within the organization. When it comes to turnover, investing in talent yields much greater returns than dedicating valuable resources to a reactive approach.