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Why Employee Engagement Requires a Systematic Approach

June 21, 2017 | Peter Corless

employee-engagement-requires-systematic-approach.jpgAs you know, employee engagement is the hot topic in senior care—and for good reason. The current labor shortage, which is only expected to get worse, means providers are rethinking strategies to retain the employees they have as they work to attract new ones. 

However, engaging employees is a beast of its own.  It’s one thing to have satisfied employees but it’s another to have engaged employees who are committed to you, your mission and your organization for the long term. In 2017, the days of one-off pizza parties and yearly staff surveys just won’t fly. Today’s workforce craves a steady stream of feedback and recognition for the work that they do. And can you blame them? Caring for residents, although rewarding, can be extremely difficult at times.  

In my many years of experience as an HR executive, I have seen many well-intended employee engagement programs fail to produce positive results because they weren’t properly executed. You see, when it comes to retaining employees, it’s not about doing one thing extremely well, it’s about doing many things extremely well in a systematic, repeatable fashion. Leadership must be engaged and actively listen to supervisors and employees to identify areas for improvement. 

Here are just a few reasons why a systematic approach is the only approach when it comes to employee engagement:  

It’s consistent. Providers can stay on track in their efforts with the proper plan in place. Rather than scramble last minute to throw that pizza party or picnic because it’s long overdue, providers should stay one step ahead to make sure their initiatives are repetitive and well thought out. This also extends to communication practices. It's important to facilitate open communication between managers and employees. This includes holding regular meetings and check-ins to make sure things are running smoothly, as well as frequently sending out brief staff surveys.

Put it into practice: Create an employee engagement calendar that breaks down your initiatives yearly, quarterly and monthly. This requires some planning upfront, but makes staying the course easier—especially during the hectic day-to-day when initiatives could easily take the backburner. This allows you to make sure you never miss an opportunity to show staff they’re valued, which keeps them happy and engaged. This type of approach is also much more proactive than reactive—don’t wait until morale is at a low point to try and give it a boost. Take your planning one step further by marking the days you will send out your staff surveys. This will help you regularly gauge their satisfaction and address any issues on the spot.

It’s fair & equitable. A systematic approach forces providers to examine all workers on all shifts. Those that work third shift are often left out of staff picnics, meetings and more. This can cause them to feel out of the loop and disengaged. Providers can specifically target these employees to make sure they are regularly rewarded for their contributions and included in all communications and events.  

Put it into practice: Use a system that allows you to regularly check-in on all employees, on all shifts, across all buildings. Management might not have much interaction with certain employees, but a dashboard that keeps track of performance behaviors (i.e. punch-ins, call-offs, etc.) makes it easy to address certain situations that might be a direct result of a lack of engagement. When holding activities, have a plan to rotate employees off the floor so everyone gets a chance to participate. Not all employees can leave their positions at the same time to attend planned activities.

It’s efficient & strategic.  When you have a plan in place, you also have the means to adjust that plan if you’re not seeing the results you expected. To ensure success, get staff feedback before you craft your program and while it’s running. Certain rewards and communication efforts might be more appealing than others and you don’t want to waste your time with initiatives that aren’t well received.  

Put it into practice: Let staff vote on the activity for your next company outing or employee appreciation event. Simply showing them you care about their preferences directly contributes to their engagement.  You can also solicit help from employees by establishing a social committee. It doesn’t all have to fall on your shoulders and asking staff to step in takes some of the work off your plate and, as a bonus, keeps them engaged.

So, what’s in it for you?

A whole lot, actually. Organizations with engaged employees are more profitable, experiencing 147% higher earnings per share and a 26% increase in annual revenue. Plus, 37% lower absenteeism and 25% lower turnover. But that’s not all. Happy employees contribute to happy residents and 233% greater customer loyalty. So, when you look at it from all angles, everybody wins with engaged employees.  

Technology is a key component in any engagement initiative, there’s no doubt about it. Providers can gain a competitive edge today with software that keeps tabs on employee performance and rewards them for their good work. Paper and pencil is no longer an option for staff scheduling and it certainly isn’t a viable option for carrying out a systematic and effective engagement program.

Want to know more?

Listen to Chris Stach share how Altercare of Ohio successfully engages staff with the right technology in place.

Wistia video thumbnail - OnShift Engage Helps Altercare Motivate &amp; Retain Employees

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About Peter Corless

Peter Corless is Executive Vice President of Enterprise Development for OnShift. Peter is a recognized HR leader in post-acute care and is well-known for his achievements at some of the country’s largest post-acute care organizations, including Kindred Healthcare and Genesis HealthCare. As an experienced, chief administrative and human resources officer within these organizations, he developed strategies that reduced turnover, improved recruiting and hiring strategies, and reduced labor costs.

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