Five Actions To Foster Employee Engagement

Jun. 16, 2022

Building Trust Through Internal Marketing

Leg_Blog_June

 

By Mike Milligan, President
Legato Healthcare Marketing

Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy’s advisory last month brought renewed attention to a looming national crisis: healthcare employee burnout.

Although burnout among healthcare workers was an issue before COVID-19, there’s no doubt that the pandemic has exacerbated the situation (i.e., the Great Resignation) – which makes building employee trust and engagement today a no-brainer for healthcare CEOs and HR managers.

Yet many of you undoubtedly realize that knowing something needs to be done is much easier than actually implementing it.

Why Internal Marketing is Necessary

There are several reasons why healthcare organizations need to immediately invest in building stronger relationships with their employees:

  • Higher employee morale means a better patient experience; the patient experience is largely reliant on the employee experience at your organization
  • A positive patient experience grows patient loyalty – which increases revenue
  • Internal marketing leads the way for building trust and engagement with employees

When valuable employees walk out your door to accept a different opportunity, they take their knowledge capital with them – and everyone associated with your healthcare organization loses. According to a 2017 leadership article in Forbes, “[H]appier employees make happier customers. And there are plenty of statistics and facts to back this up.”

2017 might seem like a long time ago – especially after weathering what (we hope) has been the worst of the pandemic, but the truth in that statement seems timeless: Employees who feel invested in their jobs, and the organizations that employ them, will undoubtedly also be invested in the consumers, or patients, they serve.

How to Implement an Internal Marketing Strategy

Now that we’ve discussed a few of the key reasons why marketing to your employees is an indispensable long-term business strategy, let’s take a look at five pretty simple ways to go about doing it:

  1. Begin at the Beginning: Knowledge and understanding of your organization’s culture, mission, vision and values is the first step to making sure your people fully embrace your organization as a place they want to be – and a place they want your consumers to be.

As anyone in a leadership role knows, clear communication up front saves everyone a lot of confusion: Be sure to regularly share policies about things such as signage and social media with your staff, as well as keep them updated on new service lines – this will save everyone from the embarrassing “I didn’t even know we offered that!” moment.

Although employee orientation is the ideal time to introduce these easy steps to your people, it’s certainly not the only – or last – time to encourage your staff to invest in your organization.

  1. Coffee, anyone? It sounds mundane – and obvious – but in my many years of working with a variety of companies, I can’t tell you how many times organizations miss this nearly effortless moment: Ensure that your leadership team is sitting down with their people to check in and listen to what’s going on. I get it: We’re all busy, but 30 minutes of coffee with a staff member once or twice a year can save you hours – if not years – of lost productivity when your organization doesn’t realize it has discontented employees – or loses valuable ones.

Here are a few easy conversation starters (no rocket science here!):

  • What’s going well?
  • Are we meeting your expectations of the job?
  • What can we improve upon?
  • Do you have all the tools you need to do your job?
  1. Town Halls: Quarterly employee forums are a great way to get everyone together – and help everyone feel invested in your organization’s goals. Remember: If you’re using Zoom, Teams, etc., activate the chat feature, not just the video function – you want your staff to know they have a voice. The key here is transparency and engagement. Truly listen and allow employees to ask the difficult questions; there’s nothing that turns off employees more than going to a “lecture” from administration.
  1. Team Building: You don’t need to hire a fancy company or transport staff members to a quiet retreat to take advantage of the benefits a little downtime can provide for your staff; all you need to do is offer regular opportunities for diverse, department-level activities. For example, team trivia night might be good for the surgical nurses, while yard games or a cookout might work better for the patient registration staff (don’t forget to get your employees’ input about what they would like!).
  1. Employee Ambassadors: An ambassador program is a great tool for building employee trust and investment because it allows for open communication up and down the organization – and it’s a pretty easy and cost-effective action.

To start, form a committee of high-performing employees from different departments and all levels of your organization; ask department heads for recommendations about who would be a good fit for the role. Employee ambassador programs are usually headed up by staff members from HR and marketing.

At first, task this team to meet monthly to form a charter, develop a plan, and choose associated metrics to measure success; after the first year, perhaps this group only meets quarterly.

Some typical standing agenda items that the ambassador group may want to include for its meetings:

  • Review of
    • Key metrics
    • Customer satisfaction scores (inpatient and outpatient by department)
    • Employee stats (turnover, satisfaction, retention)
    • Occurrence report data/feedback
    • Marketing updates
    • Current service line promotions, including sharing radio, video, print, etc.
  • Assessment of
    • Employee input
    • Consumer feedback (for example, via online reviews such as Yelp, Google, etc.)

Some larger projects that this group can work on to build employee investment include:

  • An annual event for staff recognition
  • A method for gathering input from staff (e.g., a suggestion box program)
  • A recognition program featuring staff members; your marketing team can share these staff stories on social media or in other communication pieces
  • An intranet page to reveal what the ambassadors are working on and to share outcomes

Finally, ask this group to create a regular update to be distributed to the entire organization with news from administrative and other leadership meetings, as well as HR and marketing. Tip: Use a platform such as MailChimp or Constant Contact that allows you to collect engagement metrics.

This is an excellent avenue to share good news such as:

  • Celebrating new employees, visiting specialists, board members, etc.
  • Recognizing retiring, promoted or departing staff members
  • Upcoming organization-wide events, training opportunities or other noteworthy happenings
  • Reminders about approaching due dates, deadlines and registrations

All of this invites your employees to become increasingly engaged in your organization – they’ll understand that they are valued, which, according to Quantum Workplace, a human resources technology provider, “Recognition connects [employees] to the organization, elevates performance, and increases the likelihood they’ll stay.”

Be sure to promote your area’s strengths: We all know that rural communities are unable to offer some of the perks of larger, more urban settings, but showcase your community’s advantages. When your workers see that your organization truly understands what makes your community special, they’ll feel more invested in their work – and continue to provide the excellent care that so many in your area depend on.

The pandemic has taken a lot out of all of us, but healthcare workers have been especially impacted by COVID-19; refocusing some attention back on your most essential asset – your employees – can go a long way toward rebuilding the value that healthcare workers find in their roles with your organization.

Have questions or need further ideas to get your organization’s internal marketing program rolling? Reach out to me via mikem@golegato.com or call 920-544-8102 ext. 101.

P.S. Let us know what has worked for your organization when it comes to increasing employee engagement – we’d love to hear from you!