November 3, 2017

Health Care Leadership: 5 Ways To Empower Your People

I remember working at a job once and absolutely loving it. I loved my colleagues. I had a sense of purpose. And I came in every day to put as much blood, sweat and tears into that organization to make it the best it could possibly be.

But over time I started feeling stuck. And my colleagues felt the same way. And that left many of us feeling frustrated. Which made us less engaged. Before I knew it, more than half of our office had become unrecognizable because we’d all moved on, either mentally or physically.

The story I just told you should feel intimately familiar. Because not only do I hear it from friends as we commiserate at happy hour, but I read this story almost daily as I scroll through my morning newsfeed.

Recent data is proving that these stories aren’t just hyperbole.

For example:

  • 33 percent of employees in the U.S. are engaged at work. That means nearly 70% are not.

  • 80 percent of people in the U.S. reported that they were ‘dissatisfied’ with their direct manager

  • High turnover costs an organization 100-300% depending on the employee’s base salary

  • Unhappy and unengaged employees cost the U.S. $450-550 billion dollars each year

And all of this data just leaves me scratching my head, as I’m sure you are too, thinking:

How are nearly 70 percent of the workforce not engaged at work?

With all of the noise surrounding health care today, it’s no wonder the last thing leadership is focusing on is how to keep their people engaged. But the irony is that when your people are engaged, they’re more focused on solving many of the problems your leadership team are buried under, like patient satisfaction scores, talent recruitment and retention. It also means they’re focusing on building more meaningful experiences with your patients.

As we help our clients with their internal campaigns, we hear the same cries for help during interviews and focus groups and watch as employees become unstuck when their leadership starts implementing ways to address employee engagement. Here are a few ways you can refocus your attention on the real measure of ROI in your organization—your people.

Be Accessible.

Much of effective leadership boils down to optics. And a lot of leaders say they have an open-door policy, but if you’re honest with yourself, do you really? Do you make yourself consistently available to everyone within your organization?

Acknowledge Your People.

Great leaders empower their people and more importantly, they acknowledge their efforts. Did one of your employees go above and beyond recently? A simple acknowledgement goes a long way and encourages them to keep it up. Even when budgets are tight, if you can’t reward employees through compensation, reward them through recognition.

Mentorship + Education = Confidence.

The greatest gift of learning something new is sharing it with others. It’s almost a tribal rite of passage to help inspire and grow those around you, especially more junior staff members. Find ways to share tips or tools to elevate your employees. Do you know your employees’ passions? How can you give them the right tools to lead those initiatives in their day-to-day jobs?

Focus On Strengths, Not Weaknesses.

Some leaders have a habit of trying to fit people in boxes. There are some facets of every job that if we really stop and think about it, probably are ‘nice to haves’ not ‘must haves.’ Think of ways you can elevate your people in ways that utilize their strengths and passions. For example, if you have a member on your team who loves social media but hates writing, why not split the task between two people and form a team. This way you’re giving two employees the opportunity to work together for a collective goal, while allowing both of them to pursue their strengths.

Make Your People Feel Safe.

When people trust their leaders, they’re willing to sacrifice a lot for the greater good because they know they’re leaders would do the same for them. This builds a strong support system and loyal following around you. Because when people feel safe, they focus on giving their job 110 percent and doing everything they can to fulfill the mission of your organization.

As leaders you’re trying to solve a million problems. But by empowering your people, you’re building better leaders throughout your organization to give you the resources to solve those problems. From small teams, entire marketing departments or service line initiatives, these strategies can—and will—transform the culture of your brand.

By making your employees feel more valued, you’ll not only have more help solving these problems, but you’ll have more time to focus on the most important thing—your patients.