Whether you are pursuing a successful Joint Commission survey, an industry certification or performance-based incentives from the government, your employees’ willingness and ability to perform their jobs well are essential to your success as a healthcare organization. What if their jobs were easier? Applying the simple customer service principle known as The Effortless Experience™ to your healthcare organization could be the start of a great retention program.
The Effortless Experience, penned by CEB Global’s Matthew Dixon, Nick Toman, and Rick DeLisi, is based on analysis of customer loyalty. The authors’ assert that customers’ loyalty decreases proportionately to the level of effort they must exert communicating with your brand. CEB determined that 96 percent of customers who exert high effort to resolve issues will become disloyal. On a happier note, 65 percent of a customer’s perceived effort results from how the organization’s service representative makes the customer feel. Therefore, you can increase customer satisfaction and loyalty by making customer tasks easier for them. Accepting this principle, what may result from treating your employees as customers?
EMPLOYEES AS CUSTOMERS
Many successful organizations consider employees as their internal customers. Because internal customers often have significant interaction with external customers, these organizations understand how important it is for employees to feel good about their jobs and workplace. Employees can be your best advocates, or your worst detractors, and their perceptions can directly affect your patients’ perceptions, not to mention your organization’s financial health. Working in healthcare requires a high level of effort due to high performance expectations and insufficient time and resources, so stress and burnout are common in healthcare, resulting in high turnover rates and reduced quality of care. Healthcare organizations could benefit by treating their employees as customers and creating a more Effortless Experience for them.
STOP THE VICIOUS TURNOVER CYCLE
To make your employees’ jobs easier, implement measures to reduce burnout and turnover. When healthcare workers leave their jobs, their duties often shift to the remaining employees, thereby increasing the reduced staff’s workload, contributing to burnout, which leads to more turnover. Reversing this vicious cycle is possible, and doing so could save your organization money while increasing employee and patient satisfaction. An article in the American Journal for Infection Control reported hospitals that were able to reduce burnout by 30 percent had a total of 6,239 fewer patient infections and an annual cost saving of up to $68 million. Saving on burnout and turnover could significantly free up your budget and allow you to implement measures that will further increase employee loyalty while decreasing their exerted effort.
MEASURES TO INCREASE EMPLOYEE LOYALTY
Making your employees’ work lives easier will increase their loyalty. They will be easier to retain and may even help to recruit new employees. Reduce work-related stress and create a culture of happy employees by:
- Offering a comprehensive wellness program. Harvard Wellness Study Research found that average healthcare costs fall by about $3.37 and absenteeism costs fall by about $2.73 for every one dollar spent on wellness programs.
- Expanding patient programs. Consider the wellness programs you already offer your patients, and extend them to your employees. Some examples include nutrition and weight management classes, stretching and exercise classes, and complementary and alternative medicines (CAMs).
- Offering crisis help for traumatic events. The Code Lavender program has been adapted and successfully implemented in several healthcare settings. The general idea of the program is that within 30 minutes of calling the code, spiritual and emotional counselors and a team of holistic nurses are available to give Reiki, massages, healthy snacks and water to an employee. The percent of staff who reportedly “do not feel supported” decreased from 24 percent to 2.7 percent in a matter of six months at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford after implementing their Code Lavender program. Based on employee health, the hospital is currently ranked number two in the Healthiest Employers of the Bay Area with 2,000 or more workers.
- Playing to your employees’ strengths.
- Use your tech-savvy, Millennial employees to implement and lead technology-based programs such as Electronic Health Records (EHRs) and telehealth.
- Use your aging nurse workforce to train young nurses and nursing students. The older nurse can benefit from the younger nurse’s physical capabilities while the younger benefits from hands-on training.
- Offer individual (as opposed to unit) flexible scheduling to help both younger and older workers. Several four-hour shifts per week may attract moms or older nurses while younger employees may be interested in longer shifts and fewer work days.
- Refreshing your policy management system with a reputable online software.
- Up-to-date, easy-to-access policies will save employee time and frustration preparing for surveys and accreditation.
- Online versioning will ensure your employees are all using the same, most recent documentation to provide consistency of care for all patients while protecting you and your employees from stressful litigation.
- Providing quick, easy access to policies eliminates potential errors for new employees and reduces the time required to supervise them.
We know that every organization is unique, and so are your employees. We recommend involving your staff to create a retention plan that’s a perfect fit for your organization. At the same time, we hope to have offered some ideas to inspire you. Let us know what you are doing to retain employees, start a new conversation or just Like Us on Facebook, and keep on smiling! It’s good for your health.