Can hospitals afford to ignore their employee engagement?

Can hospitals afford to ignore their employee engagement?

Jul 8, 2020.

When we talk about engaging employees and employee engagement, it’s often the case that business and commercial settings will most likely spring to mind.

However, with the world of work in flux for everyone right now, employee engagement has perhaps never been more important – and none more so than in the world of healthcare.

With the NHS switching from a Covid-footing to resuming normal operations, they’re going to need every single member of their full-time and temporary staff to be on point – and this is where every healthcare facility needs to start thinking about its employee engagement.

But, before we get too far ahead of ourselves, let’s run over the basics first…

What is employee engagement?

Employee engagement is not down to one simple factor; such as pay, working conditions or how many days leave you get every year. It’s more about the day-to-day stuff and the people behind the services your trust provides. Engagement is when your people get out of bed in the morning with their head in the game and always have their heart and mind on the job.

Basically, if you have engaged employees at your trust, they’ll be immersed psychologically, socially and culturally in every aspect of its operation. An engaged employee at your hospital will, more likely than not, be motivated more easily and be able to fulfill their career potential with you rather than be inclined to bounce from trust-to-trust in order to find a better, more fulfilling role.

Ultimately, you’ll find that it becomes easier to retain your best medical professionals, fill rota gaps and maintain exceptional levels of patient care with an engaged workforce.

So, there are obviously some clear benefits as to ensuring you have employee engagement on your list of staffing priorities at your trust! But, what if engaging your trust’s employees hasn’t been on your radar; what if the staff at your trust have become un-engaged with you as an employer?

How can I spot a disengaged or un-engaged workforce at my trust?

If you haven’t been giving engagement much thought at your trust, the warning signs may be hiding in plain sight – and they’re not as obvious as you may think!

A disengaged workforce or employee at your hospital or medical facility may be showing the following signs:

  • Were previously motivated and keen to work with the trust, but now seems to have lost their drive to do more than just what’s required
  • Has maybe suffered a loss of confidence due to lack of respect from their colleagues or department heads
  • Often resist new ideas, initiatives or is openly negative about the trust
  • Your trust has consistent difficulty in filling staffing rotas and issues with availability
  • Your trust has a higher than average level of staff turnover
  • You notice a consistent lack of communication between departments
  • There’s frequent instances of staff absence and lateness.

These issues are troublesome in themselves; but add them together or leave them to fester, and the results could be to the detriment of patient care and the wellbeing of your staff. With all aspects of the NHS under pressure in a post-Covid world, a disengaged or unengaged workforce could be a huge barrier to reducing patient backlogs and returning to ‘normal’.

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What can a trust do to enhance its engagement with its staff?

As we mentioned before, there’s no one single thing that a trust can do to have a happy and engaged workforce at its hospital; however, there are a number of things they can do to make their staff’s working life that little bit better and help ensure they feel happy, confident and motivated in their duties:

Ensure there are regular staff communications

When it comes to having an engaged workforce at your hospital, silence is never golden!

Always aim to communicate regularly with both your permanent and temporary workforces via regular emails or team catch ups as this can open up crucial lanes of dialogue. This is where you can share the good work that has been going on, talk about any shared difficulties and how there are any processes that could be improved.

Empower your temporary staff

Your temporary and locum staff are a vital resource and should feel like an integral part of your trust’s team. If they’re only ever given the jobs your full time staff don’t want or find it difficult to get the shifts they want, you may find it difficult to attract quality locum professionals to your trust.

Speak to them often and see what you can do to make their day-to-day lives easier; this could be helping make their timesheet process more reliable and efficient, or giving them more control over the shifts and hours they do at your trust. The more ‘part of the team’ a locum or temporary staff feels, the more likely they’ll give their very best and stick around for longer, too.

Review your internal processes

No one likes having to do work for the sake of work! It’s common knowledge that the NHS’s internal systems are in need of digitisation and refinement (as detailed in the Long Term Plan); so, ask yourself: are your current staffing systems duplicating workloads, unnecessarily complicated or simply not fit for purpose?

When you make the processes staff have to undertake as simple and efficient as possible, you’ll often find that all-important staff engagement improves, too!

Conduct a ‘Pulse Survey’

Finally, your people are the best placed to advise what’s going right and what’s perhaps not so good – so ask them! You can do this by conducting a survey of both your full time and temporary staff; find out what they like about working at your trust, what they find frustrating and what the trust can do to enhance its relationships with all its staff. Doing this can help your trust make better informed decisions when it comes to implementing and employee engagement strategy, and nurture a culture of transparency and continuous improvement throughout the hospital – which can seriously benefit everyone.

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