So, here’s some not-so-great news from the hospital/employee relationship world. Forty-five percent hospital employees aren’t happy with their jobs, or at least don’t really feel connected to them, according to a new study by Press Ganey.
And here’s a red flag: Among all employees Press Ganey interviewed, those working closest to patient care seem to be the least satisfied and happy. That’s a serious problem, of course. Not only does that have the potential to lower the quality of patient care — unhappy people seldom follow through on their work as well as happy ones — patient satisfaction scores drop too.
What will it take to fix the problem? Well, the usual strategies aren’t going to cut it. Rejiggering pay, benefits or even the content of their jobs won’t really improve the situation, the research firm says. (Does that surprise you? Actually, it made sense to me, but more on that in a bit.) To strengthen their bond with employees, hospitals must “[create] an environment where employees feel an emotional bond with colleagues as well as with the overall organization,” Press Ganey reports.
As Press Ganey notes, employees need recognition, to be included in decisions and to engage in real-time communication with hospital administration. But that’s pretty tough when you’re working in a stratefied organization where the leadership is figuratively — and sometimes literally! — running around in a world far removed from day-to-day life in the facility.
Unfortunately, a compensation bandaid won’t fix things. If what employees really want is to have some input and be included in key decisions, raising pay, benefits or job descriptions unilaterally doesn’t help. Moving up compensation is great, and certainly generates some gratitude, but you can only raise salaries so much — and if you’re in a competitive market, others will match you anyway. It’s a great gesture, but won’t do the job on its own.
Besides, far too many hospital administrators seem to see employees as disposable, if expensive, interchangeable assets like their office equipment — and have no doubt that employees know this. A bigger paycheck helps bond employees to their jobs, but it doesn’t foster true loyalty or happiness if they feel like cogs in a huge machine.
What can hospital administrators do to foster real relationships and empower employees? One strategy that may have an impact is for the CEO to discuss issues and share ideas candidly in a blog; the “Running a Hospital” blog written by Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center’s CEO Paul Levy is a stellar example of this approach.
And now I turn it over to you. What strategies are you aware of that help employees feel connected to their work in a deeper and more personal way? (Bonus points for case studies drawn from your own experience.)