Healthcare Employee Engagement – A Partnership for Learning and Retention

Talent management for the healthcare industry faces challenges not unlike other industries. Yet, certain aspects take on a unique twist in this competitive arena.

Take employee engagement, an area almost universally accepted as a critical element in establishing a robust, thriving corporate culture across industry sectors. Various studies have shown that better employee engagement has numerous benefits, including improved employee performance, better retention rates, improved alignment with organizational goals, superior organizational results and more.

Perhaps nowhere is the battle to attract and retain quality people more fierce than in the healthcare sector. That struggle is the result of rapidly growing healthcare needs due to population shifts, in addition to more universal challenges. Highly skilled and knowledgeable professionals are a requisite to meeting the high-level goals of serving its constituents and customers with the best care possible. With the number of people to serve growing and the talent pool not growing proportionally, the threat of a talent shortage is real.

Healthcare organizations require selective staffing, diligent and ongoing training and education, along with other benefits such as education and reward systems to attract and retain the best talent. But engagement is also a critical area and one where there is the potential for significant upside. With the fight for talent ongoing, engagement between employees and management is an area that can yield significant payoff. A study of the Australian healthcare system by J.J. Rodwell and T.T.S. Teo concluded that one way in which healthcare HR organizations can achieve competitive advantages is by focusing on employee knowledge. 

To help employees grow and improve with increased skills, employee knowledge requires more than merely implementing a training program. Here is where engagement between employees and managers can and should play a key role. Sure, there needs to be training programs implemented. But there also needs to be a learning culture throughout the organization. Superior engagement is a necessary component of a learning culture, providing the necessary foundation for the learning to take place.

Toss out the dreaded, outdated annual performance review. Instead, institute an ongoing two-way conversation between employees and managers. Regular, ongoing communication is great, but you also need tools to help. Tools to help remind, ensure and document feedback, goals and input. This kind of system greatly reduces the potential for surprises from either side – employee or manager.

This ongoing communication and engagement will not only improve employee and manager performance, it naturally results in better team performance and improved organizational results. Another key benefit is the resulting basis for the formation of an employee learning and development plan. Employees and managers better understand the needs and goals of each other, and of the organization.

The result can really evolve the “employee-manager” relationship. This proactive, “more-involved” relationship can then lead to a partnership where both parties can learn and grow. That helps engagement, which also fosters retention and better organizational performance.

Better healthcare – that’s the best possible outcome.

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