The compelling case for healthcare providers choosing to adopt an employee engagement solution
It’s estimated that there are over 2 million people employed in healthcare in the UK. To put that into context, it’s the equivalent to every man, woman and child in Cardiff, Manchester, Liverpool, Sheffield and Glasgow combined. In the US, the Bureau of Labour Statistics estimates that nearly 16 million are employed in healthcare. Given the numbers, it’s hardly surprising that there is a huge spectrum of roles being undertaken. Back office roles, of course, exist with hundreds of thousands employed to ensure that supply chains are robust, that wages are paid, that facilities are managed. Equally there are hundreds of thousands of essential front-line workers who spend the majority, if not all, of their working day untethered to a desk: ambulance drivers, paramedics, doctors and nurses, organ and blood bank couriers. It’s not just the wide variety of roles that creates unique challenges for those tasked with managing within the sector, it’s also the ongoing and precipitous projected recruitment rates. In a recent US study, four of the eight jobs forecasted to grow the most between 2016 and 2026 were healthcare roles. That presents a real and urgent challenge around motivation, engagement and ongoing integration of ever growing numbers of employees.
With so many employees (and more to be found), doing so many different roles in so many different circumstances, just how do you make sure that each one gets the same access to insights, guidance, support and encouragement as the next? How do you ensure that your entire workforce is united in its aims and objectives? We believe the answer lies in effective and efficient employee engagement. This is underpinned by research from Gallup which reveals that business units where employees are highly engaged report a 41% reduction in absenteeism coupled with a 17% increase in productivity.
What happens when employee engagement isn’t working? In manufacturing this might mean that fewer widgets are produced. In the healthcare sector this translates to negatively impacted levels of patient care and the associated tragic outcomes that this can lead to. Human tragedies that could be avoided through something as rapidly implementable as employee engagement. Recent research revealed that only 14% of UK nurses are happy in their job and that 57% are actively considering a change in profession. Whether your glass is half empty or half full, the risks and missed opportunities of ignoring employee engagement are startlingly clear.
Those are attention grabbing statistics when you are talking about a people-dependent sector such as healthcare. However, at StaffConnect, we also recognise that the healthcare sector has its own unique challenges and operating environments. We’ve been working closely with our healthcare customers to identify five key pillars that form the foundation for any business case to justify investment in an employee engagement solution, such as the multi-award winning StaffConnect platform:
- Staff retention
It’s well recognised within the Healthcare sector that the extent to which staff are both engaged and empowered has a correlation on their loyalty to the organisation. It’s not surprising why. Engaged staff understand the aims and objectives of the organisation, the crucial role they play in delivering and advancing towards them as well as the ultimate common purpose that guides every decision and interaction. When staff feel empowered to make their ideas heard and to flag up problems directly with senior management, they form an even deeper emotional bond with both the organisation and those to whom it delivers services. Employee engagement platforms enable this by opening the communications channels and ensuring that everyone, desk-based or not, gets the same opportunity to have their say. This can include providing feedback via annual surveys, enabling colleagues to ask questions about organisational news or just giving everyone the opportunity to share good news stories and instances of great practice. Employee engagement enables and accentuates the recognition of individuals, teams as well as the organisation. A lack of common understanding coupled with increased fragmentation is directly linked to poor communications, which, in turn, is a common symptom of a poorly performing organisation. This can be effectively and efficiently remedied with the adoption of the right employee engagement platform.
- Efficiency through innovation
The healthcare sector has, for a multitude of reasons, often been slower to adopt technology than others. This has stymied its ability to realise the value that technology can create. Indeed, in 2017, the NHS was revealed to be the world’s number one purchaser of fax machines. This hinders the flow of information around the organisation and creates inefficiencies which are both costly to accommodate and potentially life threatening. An employee engagement solution cuts out much of this techno-chaff and puts innovation back in the hands of employees. Information can be sent rapidly and securely to whoever needs it. Vitally, mobile is the only technology proven to unify a fragmented workforce where such a high preponderance of front-line workers exists.
Wherever they are, whatever their role – with mobile technology, information and support is at everyone’s fingertips.
- Protecting confidential data
Given the slow organisational adoption of often mainstream technologies, healthcare workers do what most people would do – they develop their own processes to work around the challenge. They know that lives are jeopardised by not being able to communicate as quickly and easily as they could. So, they consider their own experiences and they start introducing rogue apps like WhatsApp and Snapchat into the workplace. Information starts flowing, files are shared, patients receive a better level of care through collaboration. Sounds great. On the face of it, it is, but it threatens to undermine some of the key tenets of the patient/doctor relationship, most notably confidentiality and trust.
Using apps like those above, instantly takes critically sensitive patient data and moves it into the enterprise domain. If you are discussing what time to meet in the pub with a group of friends, it matters not a jot that the content of the conversation is being bounced around servers in the geographies of the platform’s choice. Everyone in the conversation has given their consent for their information to be shared in this way. However, when the conversation includes patient data, the subject has not provided consent which represents a massive breach of trust. Worst case scenario, a phone is stolen and the app accessed. In one scenario, the thief now knows your preferred watering holes. In the other scenario, the thief now knows the personal details and medical prognosis of the patient that was being discussed.
It’s all too easy and the consequences for patient and practitioner are potentially immense. It is not just a breach of trust, it’s a breach of the law, even before the implementation of the tighter GDPR regulations. Both individuals and organisations can, and will, be held to account. By providing your employees with an employee engagement platform, like StaffConnect, they do not need to create their own processes. Instead, they follow yours which have been built around protecting and securing critical and highly confidential patient data.
- Managing an emergency
The very nature of the work means that healthcare workers are often at the vanguard of responding to emergencies. When the emergency itself is of a catastrophic nature, it is critical to effectively co-ordinate and implement the response. Employee engagement platforms ensure that information and updates get to where they need to, immediately. Pre-assigned crisis management groups can be activated, and response documentation accessed from anywhere. Organisations can utilise the platform to deliver centrally vetted security advice to colleagues in real time. It can also enable colleagues to check-in as safe, to allow focus to be put on the response to those not yet accounted for. When other communication solutions have failed or become overloaded, you can still communicate via your employee engagement platform. This latter point was brought into stark reality by the WannaCry cyber-attack and the devastating impact it had on the NHS.
- Continuity and focus
Inevitably in a sector with so many workers, there is the constant need to replenish human resources that are drained by the high level of churn in this sector. This need not be as disruptive if a solid employee engagement platform is deployed. Prior to their start date, new employees can be provided with access to important induction information about their first few days: maps, mandatory documents to read, videos to watch, training to undertake. This ensures that new staff members quickly find their feet within the organisation, understand the ethos and common goals and can start contributing as soon as possible. It also demonstrates to them the importance the organisation places on their recruitment and sets them up to be engaged from day one. This has a direct impact on an individual trust’s ability to recruit. As the “Nursing a Healthy Reputation” study revealed, as many as 75% of healthcare workers would actively avoid a trust with a poor track record for engaging employees.
With the StaffConnect platform, healthcare organisations in both the public and private sector can achieve far better communications with their entire workforce and reap the benefits that are associated with that. More motivated staff, reduced absenteeism, increased productivity, improved staff retention, better outcomes for your key stakeholders.
The StaffConnect platform gives you the tools, technology and all the analytics you could need to get the very most out of the solution. What’s more, we can give you the peace of mind that comes from knowing that we have already successfully implemented the solution for other healthcare providers in the UK. Check out our case study here to find out more about the real value being created in practice.
We have also created an e book that discusses how mobile technology can help address the challenges surrounding employee disengagement in the healthcare industry.
To find out more about StaffConnect visit www.staffconnectapp.com