The Importance of Employee Engagement in Healthcare & How to Improve It


A healthy and productive work environment is one in which everyone can better meet their respective and collective goals. Employee engagement is a core component in creating and fostering such an environment. People Managing People refers to employee engagement as a relationship formed among colleagues and management in any industry, including healthcare.

Thinking of the long days and nights that medical professionals face, it is essential to create and foster an environment that helps build bonds of trust, encouragement, and support. Focusing on increasing and enhancing employee engagement is a practical and effective way to bring doctors, nurses, and all healthcare professionals together to meet common goals associated with tending to patients who need them. 

What Is Employee Engagement?

Employee engagement is an important human resource concept and tool that indicates employee enthusiasm in the workplace. It reveals how employees feel about their jobs, such as whether people are merely clocking in and going through the motions throughout the day or if employees are fulfilled by their work and seeking to contribute more. It shows employees' willingness to cooperate with coworkers and contribute ideas to further the department or organization's goals.

The healthcare industry faces a looming nationwide nursing shortage, which means everyone has to do more with fewer resources. That makes it more crucial than ever to encourage strong employee satisfaction, teamwork, and engagement.

Why Is Employee Engagement Important in Healthcare?

It is no secret, nor is it a surprise, that healthcare employees frequently feel overworked, underappreciated, and exhausted. Any or all of those conditions or sentiments can harm patient treatment, care, and ultimately satisfaction. When patients' lives are on the line, there is no room for disengagement, ambivalence, or even mere contentment. It is critical that healthcare employers create, implement, and establish a culture focused on employee engagement.

How Can I Improve Employee Engagement in My Healthcare Business?

Improving employee engagement is among the top priorities for healthcare organization leaders who want to retain healthcare professionals to weather the ongoing nursing shortages due to the aging Baby Boomer generation, which includes many healthcare professionals, the coronavirus pandemic, and the many daily challenges in healthcare.

Have you searched the current trends in employee engagement in healthcare to understand how to develop this upbeat and cooperative environment and need more help? If you need ideas about improving employee engagement in your healthcare business, keep reading to learn about 5 things you can do.

1. Make New Healthcare Employees Feel Welcome During the Onboarding Phase

The best time to introduce employees to an engaging environment is during the onboarding process upon hiring. Ideally, your HR team shared the concept with the new hire during the recruitment and interview phases.

Here are some ways you can welcome new hires to promote engagement:

  • Let coworkers know the new employee's name and a few key details, such as their credentials, experience, specializations, and other basic background information.
  • Inform the staff of their start date and time.
  • Coordinate with fellow team members to take a moment to greet the new employee.
  • Welcome them with a care basket filled with coffee shop gift cards, healthy snacks, a water bottle, and a waist pack to carry vital supplies while on duty.
  • Ask the new employee to wear a name tag and share a special fact about themselves as a conversation starter.


2. Ensure That Leaders Are On Board

Everyone, including physicians, head nurses, managers, and supervisors, needs to pitch in to encourage and support employee enthusiasm. Invest in the time and effort to train your leaders to serve as examples in engagement. They have the power and boots-on-the-ground advantage to support, motivate the staff, and establish and maintain a collaborative healthcare environment. Ensuring that these key players will reinforce your facility's employee engagement ideals and lets your employees know you care about their experience at work.

3. Offer Employees a Balance of Constructive Criticism and Positive Recognition

The less constructive criticism you need to give employees, the better. However, in the real world, you sometimes have to help employees adjust, pointing them in the right direction so they can remain vigilant and focused on supporting fellow health professionals to provide the best patient care. Try to balance your criticism with positive notes regarding their strengths while helping correct any issues. With this strategy, you remind employees of where they stand at the moment and what they need to do to improve and succeed for their benefit and the patients' well-being and ensure that your facility meets its goals. Further, employees gain an opportunity to learn and grow from any feedback, and your positive interaction with them and recognition of their strengths makes them feel appreciated and motivated to continue making improvements.

4. Encourage Team Bonding

Healthcare is an inherently stressful field for professionals. The hours are long, and the stakes are high, so it is important to encourage morale boosting and team bonding activities inside the work environment and after hours. Here are some ideas:

  • Designate one potluck per shift, per month to include as many staff members as possible each month.
  • Schedule a few after hours events each month, such as bowling, line dancing, pool, or trivia.
  • Make break rooms comfortable, open, and inviting to allow everyone to relax and unwind together for a few moments.

5. Bring Your Doctors Into the Mix

Don't forget to include your physicians when it comes to developing and encouraging employee engagement. Explore some doctor engagement activities that help them improve engagement with nurses, technicians, surgeons, and other hospital staff. Start with the following activities:

  • Invite doctors to staff luncheons, potlucks, and relaxed activities to foster engagement beyond the hospital floor.
  • Remind doctors that they are an important part of the hospital culture and that nursing staff and other hospital employees look up to them and want to work together for better patient care.
  • Appoint leadership positions to help doctors understand the value of employee engagement at every level to ensure desired health outcomes for patients.

C.A. Short Company Can Help Your Healthcare Staff Enjoy Peak Employee Engagement

At C.A. Short Company, we are dedicated to helping your healthcare organization create connections and improve employee engagement from the chief of medicine to the lab technician staff and beyond. We have developed various recognition programs that you can use to encourage improvement in engagement. We designed our Employee Engagement Platform to help you identify and reward your staff's positive engagement behaviors. Contact Us today to learn more!

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At C. A. Short, we are your partner for increased employee engagement resulting in increased performance outcomes to grow your bottom line. Our process and research-based platform help you engage your team in order to increase your bottom line, motivate your staff to the benefit of the entire organization, and reward your people for the positive changes they make. To request a Complimentary Consultation, please click here. 

Topics: Employee Engagement

R Scott Russell, CRP, CEP

About the Author
R Scott Russell, CRP, CEP

R Scott Russell is a video host, public speaker, and a sought-after thought leader in the world of employee engagement and recognition. At C.A. Short Company, he is responsible for producing engaging content, helping clients maximize the effectiveness of their programs, and providing ongoing training and education.

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