Corporate culture is getting a lot of attention these days, especially since it drives health care quality and overall financial returns. In fact, less than half (44 percent) of the U.S. hospital workforce is highly engaged, according to the results of a study conducted by the Harvard Business Review. This is particularly alarming because engagement is very important to organizations, with the ability to boost performance by as much as 20 percent.
But with health care, the stakes in corporate culture and engagement are higher than in other sectors. Because we’re no longer dealing with only the business side of the operation, we are dealing with people’s lives. As a result, the liability and risk surrounding corporate culture are more significant. But what can we do to mitigate this risk?
Misalignment in the Workplace
Health care organizations have many competing variables within the context of culture, such as the conflicting needs of patients, families, providers and regulators. And when employees have questions about how to handle a specific situation, culture comes into play.
Many formal documents and policies exist, but it’s the corporate culture that drives behavior. It dictates whether employees will use the provided resources or instead trust their gut or ask a co-worker. At this point, liability and risk enter the equation.
If you want to sincerely change your culture, where do you start? Management is the driving force behind cultural change. In order for managers to be effective in driving change, they need reliable resources and tools. Your existing policies must be in sync with the culture, and truly be a trusted resource for staff. Here are a few tips for change.
Simplicity and readability. Health care providers are busy and don’t have extra time to read through policies. Make policies simple to locate, and write them with your employees in mind.
Feedback-driven changes. When you are aligning your organization’s policies with your corporate culture, your employees are your best resource. Caregivers read policies on a regular basis, and they can provide feedback on what language is confusing, or how policies can be more accessible.
Updating regularly for accuracy. Since health care workers are working at a fast pace, they are looking for the most direct route to the answers. If they find ambiguity within the policies, they will quickly stop trusting the documents as the No. 1 resource for locating answers and turn to less reliable and inconsistent resources instead. This will create a cultural shift that will be difficult and time-consuming to reverse.
It’s easy to overlook culture and focus instead on tangible items — the business, the goals and the employee assessments. Digging deeper, however, allows you to gain the ability to understand and effectively shape your health care organization’s culture.
Potential misalignments and liabilities are identified, and corrected, within the existing culture. And just as important, caregivers have the resources required to operate more effectively and improve the patients’ experiences and overall care.