There’s no denying that healthcare professionals, frontline workers and first responders are always under pressure. But in the wake of the pandemic and in the post-Covid era, this pressure has intensified dramatically.
The mental and physical toll that the pandemic took on healthcare workers is enormous, and the ripple effects are continuing to cause upset in the industry.
Now, with the annual NHS staff survey revealing that just 32.7% of health service workers are satisfied with their level of pay, the focus on creating a positive work culture and workplace environment is more important than ever.
In this article, we’re going to delve deeper into 7 ways that the healthcare sector can improve the employee experience overall. This will encourage employee engagement, boost retention, and reduce the chances of skills shortages.
1. create Opportunities to Upskill
Some of the most consistently popular contributors to high employee engagement rates are career and growth opportunities. Being provided with the time, space, and resources to develop new skills is an empowering addition to any professional programme that benefits employees from every age category.
Even a high-pressure job like nursing can become monotonous without the occasional boost of change.
By offering employees the option and space to develop other skills, you make their careers more dynamic and enriching, also help increase their future earning potential.
In the wake of the pandemic, the demand for specific skills such as working with highly contagious patients or treating pulmonary issues has been in greater demand than ever before.
Furthermore, upskilling is a great way to enhance productivity in the workplace and boost individual performance. The more skilled healthcare workers are, the easier it will be for them to manage their duties and continue expanding their range of expertise, making them even more valuable in their workplace.
Establishing an upskilling programme that focuses on evolving healthcare workers’ skill sets shows employers’ willingness to invest in their futures, enabling them to feel as equipped as possible to advance in their careers.
2. Provide helpful wellbeing resources
Life as a healthcare worker can be extremely taxing, from both a mental and physical perspective. And over the past few years, that has only grown more intense. Providing ample health and wellbeing resources has always been important for employees, but now, it’s more important than ever.
A survey from 2022 found that over half of the population of healthcare workers in the UK are suffering from burnout. That can include insomnia, high stress and anxiety, depression, PTSD, fatigue, and more. The WHO confirmed similar findings, with over a quarter of healthcare workers suffering the same burnout symptoms and in the US, 25% of clinicians are considering a career change as burnout is affecting them so badly.
Fortunately, there are ways to alleviate the impact of poor mental health and create a more supportive and positive environment for healthcare employees. Some of the most effective methods include:
- Training managers to identify signs of poor mental health
- Providing resources like Employee Assistance Programmes (EAPs)
- Offering flexible working hours where possible
- Fostering a culture of awareness around good mental and physical health
- Offering generous employee healthcare benefits
- Encouraging open discussion about mental health
- Taking reports about poor mental or physical health seriously
Providing sufficient mental and physical resources for coping with the stress of life in this particular industry is crucial. When people are equipped with the right tools for managing inevitable strain, it makes performing their jobs much easier and prevents avoidable injuries or illnesses.
3. focus on teamwork & communication
The more connected the members of a team are, the more productive and efficient they can become. Nurturing a culture of communication between healthcare workers of all rankings promotes a sense of community within the workplace, and encourages employees to approach work with more verve.
Team spirit is so important for assisting with communication and collaboration between employees.
When people feel their voices are equally respected and recognised during discussions, it boosts their self-confidence and promotes an atmosphere of inclusivity.
Clear communication in general is also a vital part of any professional workplace dynamic. To achieve this, hospitals and healthcare centres can regularly ask staff for their input, promote a culture of mutual respect, and train management staff to practice open methods of communication with employees.
4. invest in retraining leaders
Good training is important. But the journey shouldn’t stop there. Providing continuous opportunities for retraining and refining workplace practices is essential for maintaining a high standard of performance and ensuring outdated methods don’t get in the way of progress.
It’s relatively natural for longstanding leaders to become stuck in their ways about certain practices and workplace conducts. But the world changes in the blink of an eye as we’ve seen firsthand since the start of the decade, and it goes without saying that the healthcare industry is definitely no exception.
Offering retraining programs to those in management and leadership positions helps to keep employees stimulated, no matter how much experience they may have. This can give even the most seasoned of employees an opportunity to refresh their skill set and become even more empowered in their roles.
It’s not about refuting their previous knowledge. It’s more about exposing them to improved ways of doing things and equipping them to navigate the evolving industry of modern healthcare.
5. Actively encourage mentorships
Whether you realise it or not, everyone needs a mentor. Mentorship programmes have some of the highest success rates of any workplace programmes in the world. Promoting close professional relationships between older and younger employees gives everyone the opportunity to learn something new, and can help create a culture of kinship and collaboration at work.
Encouraging mentorships particularly in the healthcare sector not only creates the potential for mutual learning, but it also increases employee retention rates and promotes higher engagement levels.
Without a mentorship programme, employees can feel isolated and unsupported, which makes them more prone to burnout and other forms of workplace fatigue. But when you team them up in an effort to connect and share insights, a culture of healthy communication and satisfaction can flourish.
6. recognise achievements & milestones
Everyone likes to feel appreciated for their hard work, and we all know how hard healthcare employees work on a day-to-day basis. Sadly, few feel that their efforts are fully recognised. While many employers provide appealing country-specific benefits as part of a remuneration package, salary and benefits are not quite the same as actually and genuinely acknowledging an employee’s contribution to the workplace.
Over 50% of healthcare workers in the UK report feeling undervalued and unappreciated at their place of work. This is problematic for many reasons: it causes burnout to run rampant, retention rates to drop, and the risk of accidents to rise. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
Making a concerted effort to recognise the accomplishments and milestones of healthcare employees from every ranking helps them to feel respected and stay motivated throughout the ups and downs of their careers.
7. continuously adapting processes
Even though some employees may be resistant towards learning new software, the majority of healthcare workers are ready to optimise and scale up (or down) the administration side of their jobs.
Automated tools can provide a wide variety of benefits to the healthcare industry. Some of the most popular and innovative forms include the following:
- Electronic Health Records (EHR)
- Remote Patient Monitoring (RPM)
- Hospital management systems
- Medical diagnosis software
- Electronic prescriptions software
While all of these adaptive healthcare tools do require some form of training to help utilise them effectively and optimally, the amount of time and energy they can save is substantial and well worth the investment. Providing training for these software tools is another great way to equip and empower our healthcare communities.
improving the healthcare workforce Experiences benefits all
Finding ways to enhance the healthcare employee experience doesn’t just benefit employees. It also has a positive impact on the patients they treat.
A Gallup study involving over 200 hospitals found that higher engagement rates among nurses resulted in lower mortality rates. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that when people feel happier, healthier and more satisfied in their job role, the better they can perform their duties.
Healthcare workers are some of the most important and valuable members of society – and investing in their wellbeing is absolutely crucial for society. Sometimes we forget that employees in the healthcare sector are human, just like the people they look after.
As socio-economic pressures continue to rise, supporting the mental and physical health of the healthcare workforce should be a top priority for hospitals and medical institutions across the world.
Author: Binu Jacob – EFS Engagement & Communications Lead.
Photo credit: Stefamerpik on Freepik.