IT Forefront

The top 4 drivers of health IT staff engagement, according to our 20,000-staffer survey

by Allyson Vicars and Kelsi Gardner

As organizational strategies become increasingly reliant on and driven by technology, CIOs and other health system leaders are recognizing the importance of IT department staffing and engagement. So what can you actually do to keep your IT staff engaged in their jobs?

To find out, we analyzed IT employee-specific data from Advisory Board's 2018 employee engagement benchmark survey. The entire 2018 employee engagement benchmark cohort was comprised of 620,000 respondents, with an IT staff population size of 19,862 (around 3% of the entire cohort).

Analyzing the IT staff population data revealed the top four drivers for IT staff engagement listed below:

  1. I believe in my organization's mission.
  2. My current job is a good match for my skills.
  3. I understand how my daily work contributes to the organization's mission.
  4. The actions of executives in my organization reflect our mission and values.

This ranking, which was determined by a multivariate regression analysis of 42 engagement drivers, is mostly consistent with the top drivers of engagement among health care staff in other departments. But further analysis revealed certain areas where IT staff agree or strongly agree with engagement driver questions at a higher rate in comparison to other staff.

In other words, IT employees feel their department is doing well, relative to ratings from staff in other departments, in the following engagement areas:


Finally, we also discovered areas where IT staff agree or disagree with engagement drivers at a lower rate in comparison to other staff. In other words, IT employees feel their organization is doing worse, relative to ratings from staff in other departments, in the following engagement areas:


Top takeaways to inform your IT staff engagement strategy

IT staff in health care are largely motivated by the same drivers as other health care staff, and they have a strong awareness of how their role fits within the organization. We know that when staff understand the impact of their work (on the organization's performance, on colleagues, and on patients), they're likely to both work harder and enjoy their work more. This is good news for CIOs in health care, as their IT staff may experience stress and burnout more often than IT staff in other industries, resulting in decreased engagement and retention.

You should consider revamping your IT staff training and development opportunities to provide targeted and frequent feedback. While many organizations know that IT staff highly value training and development opportunities, it's important to target your employee training to provide both breadth and depth in knowledge and experience.

To get started, begin by identifying levels of skill for each employee through a skills matrix:


Then, consider translating your table into a more explicit, actionable training dashboard that helps IT staff understand specific goals to progress toward:


Implementing this tactic in your IT department may ultimately help increase engagement, improve staff flexibility, and make you a more attractive employer.

Has your organization implemented creative solutions to keep your IT staff motivated?

IT workforce and talent development issues are a major focus of our 2019 Health Care IT Advisor research agenda. Has your organization implemented some creative solutions or innovative ways to keep your IT staff motivated? We'd love to hear about your successes and challenges in this area. Reach out to Allyson via hcita@advisory.com, if you'd be willing to share your story!

Member exclusive: Interested in the full results of our 2018 IT staff engagement survey? Reach out to hcita@advisory.com.