Editor's Note: This article was originally published on June 21, 2017 and has been recently updated.
The Power of Employee Engagement in the Healthcare Industry
One of the largest employment sectors, the healthcare sector employs 1 in 8 Americans, with over 784,000 companies contributing to the $845 trillion dollar industry. These employees are extremely important to our daily lives, however they experience more workplace injuries and illnesses than any other industry. By analyzing employee engagement trends and developing engagement programs, we can reduce workplace accidents and keep our healthcare employees safe.
EmployeE Engagement Trends in Healthcare
In a recent study from the American Medical Association (AMA) and the Mayo Clinic, researchers found 54.4% of healthcare providers demonstrated signs of burnout. According to NSI, Hospital turnover decreased by 1.3% in 2019 but still stands at 17.3%. Registered Nurses working in pediatrics, burn care, and women’s health recorded the lowest turnover rate, while nurses working in behavioral health and emergency services experienced the highest. Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) turnover exceeded all other surveyed positions at 26.5%.
“What’s the single greatest thing our healthcare company can do to improve?”
This is a question I’ve been asked hundreds of times as I travel around the country, speaking to dedicated employers who are looking for ways to make their businesses better. Regardless of the person’s position, company, or even industry, my answer is always the same – you must create a Culture of Engagement!
Nowhere is this more evident than in the healthcare industry. We’ve spent decades working with healthcare companies and helping them achieve meaningful results through a culture of engagement. Although most providers see improvement in nearly all avenues of their business, this blog post is dedicated to just five key areas: safety, patient experience/satisfaction, turnover rates, mortality rates, and return on investment (ROI).
The Five Key Areas to Improve Employee Engagement in the Healthcare Industry
Let’s be honest, hospitals can be dangerous places. If everything doesn’t go exactly right, diseases can spread, injuries can occur, and people can die. Those are pretty serious consequences for simply checking the wrong box on a form. Luckily, there is a way to minimize these risks!
When employees are engaged, healthcare providers see a 15% increase in patient safety. Things also become much safer for their employees. In fact, a separate Gallup study found a 61% reduction in worker’s compensation claims over a three-year period, following the adoption of a comprehensive employment engagement strategy.
Gallup also found when studying more than 200 hospitals, that the engagement level of nurses was the number one predictor of patient mortality rates. By focusing on employee engagement within your healthcare organizations you can not only keep your employees safe but improve patient care as well.
2. PATIENT EXPERIENCE / SATISFACTION
The importance of patient experience in the healthcare industry cannot be overstated. For hospitals whose patients report a favorable patient experience, organizations found that timeliness improves, mortality rates drop, the quality of care improves, and the bottom line increases!
Do you know what the most important key to satisfying patients is? You guessed it, employee engagement! Years of research have shown that employee engagement has a major impact on patient satisfaction. According to an HR Solutions study, engaged employees display a genuinely caring attitude toward patients 85 percent of the time. For disengaged employees, that same statistic plummets to just 38 percent. By focusing on employee engagement, you can empower your healthcare team, encouraging them to go above and beyond for their patients.
3. TURNOVER RATES
One of the biggest expenses a hospital can face is a high turnover rate, especially in regards to the nursing staff. A study by the prestigious New York University found that turnover rates for nurses alone can account for 5% of a hospital’s ENTIRE budget. That is astonishing!
In the 2019 National Healthcare Retention Report, researchers found that the average cost of turnover for a bedside RN is $44,400 and ranges from $33,300 to $56,000. This could result in the average hospital losing 3.6 to 6.1 million a year. The study also found that each percent change in RN turnover can cost or save the average hospital an additional $306,400 per year.
Luckily, there is a way to significantly reduce this burden and the exorbitant costs associated with it. Just ask the Loma Linda University Center, which, after creating and maintaining a Culture of Engagement and improving employee experience, saw their nursing turnover rate reduce by nearly 50%.
4. MORTALITY RATES
No one likes making a mistake at work, but when they happen in the healthcare industry, people can – and do – die! In their groundbreaking, 1999 report, To Err Is Human, the Institute of Medicine found that nearly 100,000 patients a year were dying due to preventable errors.
Although this study revealed the consequences of medical errors, the situation hasn’t improved in the nearly 20 years since its first publishing. In fact, things have gotten much worse. In 2016, Dr. Martin Makary, a lead researcher at John Hopkins Medicine, found that more than 250,000 Americans die each year due to medical errors. This makes medical errors the third largest cause of deaths in the United States, following heart disease and cancer, respectively.
Thankfully, there is some good news to report. When organizations take steps to engage their employees, mortality rates drop sharply! This outcome isn’t localized to the U.S. healthcare industry alone. A comprehensive study at the NHS in England found that for every 10% increase in engagement, mortality rates decreased by nearly 2.5%.
5. RETURN ON INVESTMENT
When a company’s employees are fully engaged, hospitals see a major Return on Investment (ROI). Some of these areas we briefly touched on in this very article, like reduced turnover rates and worker’s compensation claims, as well as increasing patient satisfaction – which can result in a 5% increase in profit margins.
These findings aren’t isolated to the healthcare industry either. When a company has engaged employees, they can expect, on average, a 22% increase in profitability.
Start Improving Your Culture of Engagement
By now, the correlation between success and employee engagement should be clear, and you’re probably asking yourself how your company can create a Culture of Engagement. Well, you’re in luck – this is an area we’ve been working in for the last 80 years.
That’s right, we’ve been in the employee engagement industry for nearly a century. And, over that time, we’ve worked hand-in-hand with a number of major healthcare providers to offer a winning employee engagement strategy customized to the healthcare industry.
If you want more information about how your organization can leverage what we’ve learned to engage your employees, check out our whitepaper, “5 Tips to Engage Your Healthcare Team.” In addition to being an excellent starting place, it’s also 100% FREE. If you’re still looking for more information, or have a question about anything you’ve seen, feel free to contact us.
Together, we can save money, save lives, and save the world!
C.A. Short Company partners with companies to manage, drive and facilitate increased employee engagement to increase financial performance, productivity, quality, and core performance outcomes. Our process and research-based platform enables executives and managers to engage their teams to increase the bottom line, motivate staff, and incentivize positive behavior. To Request a Complimentary Consultation, click here.