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Fresh, usable ideas to help your team think differently about patient and team engagement

Three messages your staff want – and need – to stay engaged

In many ways, it seems like the pandemic has changed everything. Or has it? Occasionally, we revisit and update a blog post from the past when the message seems especially appropriate today. We originally posted this blog in 2013. Whether you are a senior executive, middle manager or frontline staff member, healthcare seems to get more stressful and complicated every day. Endless regulations, increasing financial challenges, pressures to improve quality and safety. And now, recovery from the pandemic has created a  healthcare staffing crisis in many organizations. Because of this, how to increase employee engagement is at the top of most healthcare organizations’ priority list. But as the issues become increasingly complex, the communication frontline healthcare professionals need most from managers arguably becomes more straightforward,

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teamwork depends on every individual

Slackers hurt more than productivity. They contribute to burnout.

When we’re conducting an Experience Snapshot to help healthcare organizations better understand ways to improve staff engagement, one of our focus group questions to frontline staff is especially revealing. What happens to lower performers on your team? Answers range from “someone talks to them to help them do better,” to “nothing.” More revealing than their spoken answers are their non-verbals. You can guess which answer is accompanied by eye rolling and a resigned tone. Frontline healthcare leaders wanting to reduce turnover by finding ways to improve staff engagement may be reluctant to have frank conversations with lower performers. “I can’t afford to lose anyone right now,” is an understandable concern. But lack of fairness in the workplace is one of the six root causes of

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Nurse from Stamp & Chase traveling

Many nurses are finding quitting isn’t all it’s cracked up to be

Among challenging workforce issues, how to retain nursing staff and reduce traveler/agency costs is at the top of most provider organizations’ agendas. Recent news may appear to signal welcome relief. While everyone talks about traveler pay, research is revealing there can be major downsides for nurses who chose this path, too. A recent survey conducted by nurse.org found the following key trends: 70% of travel nurses feel unappreciated 73% of travel nurses feel unsafe at work Travel nurses have felt more uncomfortable making decisions outside of their comfort zone/moral code in the past year than other nurses Agency/travel nurses were least likely to say “Nursing is a great career” In addition to these issues, the demand for travelers is falling. In Kaiser Health News, writer

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Nurse talking to patients at Stamp & Chase

To understand why nurses leave, maybe we should focus on why they used to stay

Why do we work? That may seem like a simple question. But for organizations trying to figure out why nurses are leaving their jobs, it may be the question to contemplate. What attracts and retains employees: cash, career or calling? Research conducted by Dr. Amy Wrzesniewski, organizational behavior professor at Yale University’s School of Management, explains that employees think about work as: A job focused on pay to support family, hobbies and life outside of work (“cash”) A path to success and prestige (“career”), or An integral part of their lives and individual identity (“calling”). Dr. Wrzesniewski found that employees in most workplaces are evenly divided among these three categories. She also discovered that individuals who have a strong “calling” orientation report higher satisfaction with

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healthcare leadership development - introspective leader

The one introspective question all leaders should ask themselves

Great leaders recognize early that leadership development in healthcare is not a straight nor smooth path. Like any effective organizational improvement strategy, personal improvement is a lifelong journey. The best leaders are always looking for ways to get better, especially with the organizational recovery challenges that the pandemic has thrown at them. The journey of introspection in healthcare leadership development can be advanced in many ways, but we’ve found that one question is often a great place to start and continually assess progress: Who’s the best person I’ve ever worked for, and what did s/he do differently that I want to emulate? Reading books or attending workshops on healthcare leadership development can be helpful in understanding best practices. But there’s nothing quite like seeing a

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Pizza box with one slice of pizza at Stamp & Chase

Hold the pepperoni; staff are craving something more satisfying than pizza

Several weeks ago during an NBC Nightly News story on the effects of nurse burnout, I heard a tired, dedicated nurse from Little Rock voice in frustration, “… and please don’t order us any more pizza.” In a face-to-face conversation with a health care worker a few weeks ago, I heard a similar sentiment: “If one more person tries to hand me a piece of candy, I’m going to throw it back in their face.” Even before today’s concerns about the effect of nurse burnout, how to best recognize staff has been an issue that I’ve seen leaders grappling with since the beginning of my career. I’ve seen it all, from complicated points-and-prizes systems to “thank you” candy bars with the hospital’s logo. In the

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hospital staff engagement - burned out medical nurse putting mask on

For healthcare, COVID has forever changed the rules of engagement

Turnover. Burnout. Intense competition for talent. Lower hospital staff engagement. Never before have human capital issues consumed such a significant share of health system’s concerns about the future. While the pandemic has raised new challenges in retention and staff engagement across industries, nowhere are these issues more pronounced than in healthcare. This is the final installment in our series Leadership in the Time of Coronavirus. When we started this series, some may have wondered why we were talking about the pandemic when the worst seemed to be over. Vaccines appeared to provide a viable path to control the virus. And cases were dropping dramatically after the surge in late winter. But today, it is more than just the emergence of highly contagious variants and vaccine

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healthcare management can be overwhelming

Be careful what you wish for! Five tips to avoid the healthcare “management blues”

New title. New office. New status in the organization. Being promoted to a healthcare management position is everything you’ve dreamed about and worked so hard to achieve, right? Not always. A recent article in Harvard Business Review by professors Nishani Bourmault and Michel Anteby looks at why employees moving up to management roles experience what they describe as “managerial blues.” Given the stress of the pandemic, the healthcare management blues may be even more pronounced. In “Research: Becoming a Manager Doesn’t Always Feel Like a Step Up,” Bourmault and Anteby describe why staff drivers moving up to managers in the Paris subway system frequently experienced disappointment in their new roles. The new managers described that in their old jobs, they dealt with life-and-death situations, consistently

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how to better support frontline staff in conversations

Five questions to make the “How are you doing?” conversation more meaningful

How to support frontline staff and stay connected to what they’re feeling has never been more important. As health care organizations emerge from what has hopefully been the worst of the pandemic, there will be a tendency to breathe a sigh of relief and high-five the team’s success. Indeed, there is much for the country to be thankful for regarding healthcare professionals’ sacrifices. But for health care leaders, the emphasis now should not only be on celebration. Rather, effective leaders who are really focused on how to support frontline staff are more concerned about the toll heroic efforts have taken. Why the Development Dialogue makes sense now Of course, each individual employee has his/her own story and struggles related to the pandemic. That’s why the

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Feedback helps improve employee retention

Why catching your team in the act of doing good is so important right now

“It seems like they only notice when we do something wrong!” When talking with frontline staff about improving employee retention, I’ve certainly heard that statement more than once. In many cases, the complaint might be overstated, and employees may even admit that if pressed. But staff usually think that leaders are too critical not because they point out problems too often. Rather, it is because they offer positive feedback too seldom. More positive reinforcement is crucial to improve employee retention. In our T.E.A.M. leadership model, observation is one of the important practices within the “Mentor” module. By spending time in the trenches with staff, leaders have a much more powerful platform to provide feedback – both positive and constructive. Right now, spending time on the

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