Survey Says

Our update on every aspect of the survey process.

Why engagement, why now?

August 6, 2014

Isabel Yoon, Survey Solutions

How reform is changing the business case for investing in hospital workforce engagement

We’ve long known about the relationship between workforce engagement and voluntary turnover. We’ve learned that engagement trumps satisfaction as the metric to target to drive key business and care quality outcomes as well as patient satisfaction. This is not news to HR leaders or even the C-suite.

What is less established, however, is how the business case for investing in employee engagement is changing in the context of health care reform. As hospitals and health systems prepare for value-based purchasing while continuing to meet demands in the current fee-for-service market, it is clear that if your leadership team didn’t care about employee engagement before, they certainly should be caring about it now.

Realizing the frontline accountability ambition

To inflect both cost and quality performance, frontline staff must be increasingly invested in—and held accountable for—key organizational goals. Done right, engagement and accountability can mutually reinforce each other.

At a minimum, increasing individual accountability will dramatically expand the job scope and expectations for frontline roles. New quality metrics demand a higher level of standardization in care protocols and technology.

An increased emphasis on flexible staffing models will require cross-training for most, if not all, staff. The need for care coordination after the patient leaves the hospital will require staff to take on new roles and responsibilities on care teams that extend beyond the four walls of the hospital.

Additionally, this expansion of responsibility is paired with labor cost-containment efforts that send a clear message to staff: do more with less. Engagement inspires a higher level of discretionary effort that will help our workforce absorb these changes.

What’s more, the traditional campaign-style approach most organizations take to enfranchise frontline staff in performance improvement will no longer suffice. Focusing on a single metric or outcome at a time is not sustainable going forward.

While employee engagement may not be the obvious tool in tackling any given challenge individually, its ability to advance performance on many of them simultaneously places it squarely at the center of a comprehensive care transformation plan.

Finally, many of the classic drivers of engagement also support a culture of shared responsibility. Investments in creating a clear line of sight between individual contributions and organizational performance, soliciting and responding to employee input, and providing meaningful feedback and recognition build engagement and create a strong foundation for instilling individual accountability.

Fortunately, this works both ways. Three components of accountability—clear expectations, autonomy, and highly skilled coworkers—are in turn strong predictors of employee engagement.

Preparing staff to succeed in the face of constant change

In spite of being a traditionally change-resistant workforce, hospitals have met the demands of a evolving health care landscape before. What distinguishes the current situation, however, is the scope and pace of the changes required.

Our workforce must adapt to a world in which multiple, simultaneous transformations are the norm, not the exception. Employees at all levels will be asked to exercise unprecedented levels of flexibility in their roles while compensation will largely remain unchanged.

For any organization in this position, it goes without saying that employees must be on board to meet these challenges. The heart of successful transformation, however, lies in change readiness—a key product of engagement that reflects employee perceptions of:

  • Communication and transparency
  • Employee support and recognition
  • Teamwork

The goal of improving engagement in today’s transformative era goes beyond getting employees on board—it’s about supporting employees through difficult changes and equipping them to succeed in an environment that demands constant flexibility.

We at the Advisory Board Survey Solutions believe that, throughout this process, the organizational frontrunners will be those that embrace employee engagement as a key tool to promote the agility of their staff.

  • Want to learn more about how reform is changing the business case for employee engagement? Contact Lisa Hobart to request an executive overview of Survey Solutions Employee Engagement.

What you need to know to drive physician partnership in 2014

December 19, 2013

Amanda Greene, Survey Solutions

We recently released our updated physician engagement benchmarks for 2013. If you haven’t yet read the report, here are three things you should consider when formulating your physician strategy for 2014.

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Are you losing revenue because independent physicians are referring patients elsewhere?

November 21, 2013

Amanda Greene, Survey Solutions

Earlier this year, physician research firm Merritt Hawkins released survey data showing the average annual revenue generated for hospitals, broken down by physician specialty.

The results were surprising: For the first time since the survey's inception primary care physicians generated more annual revenue on average for their hospitals than specialists did.

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Three strategies for instilling leadership buy-in

November 7, 2013

Andrew Zotter, Survey Solutions

One of the universal barriers to engaging the workforce of any health care organization is a lack of buy-in for engagement. Simply put, leaders want to know why they’re putting forth the effort to have an engaged workforce when they have so many other change initiatives and priorities on their plates. 

We've compiled the three key strategies to achieving leadership buy-in for engagement initiatives.

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Two key decision-points to activate the goal setting process

August 15, 2013

Abby Martin, Survey Solutions

We’ve all heard the infamous quote by Yogi Berra – “You’ve got to be very careful if you don’t know where you are going, because you might not get there.” “You've got to be very careful if you don’t know where you are going, because you might not get there.”
-Yogi Berra
Consider this knowledge as it relates to driving engagement – if your leaders don’t have a clear understanding of what the organization hopes to achieve, how will they know if they’ve succeeded?

If that’s not enough to make the case for setting clear goals, our national data demonstrates a strong need. Managers and directors who strongly agree with the statement ‘I know what is required to perform well in my job’ are nearly twice as likely to be engaged as those who simply agree.

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Using engagement and culture of safety surveys to create a high-performance workforce environment

August 6, 2013

I’m consistently impressed with how our cohort in Survey Solutions continues to set an aspirational bar for engagement. Year-after-year, our members are able to achieve sustained engagement efforts, and I personally can’t wait to feature their work at our upcoming Employee Engagement Summit.

Recently, many organizations have set the bar even higher by working with us to launch culture of safety initiatives alongside engagement efforts. What’s particularly exciting about this work is how these organizations are utilizing engagement and culture of safety survey data to build a high-performance workforce culture.

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Struggling with strategy? Tap your physician network.

July 30, 2013

Amanda Greene, Survey Solutions

Last month, I met with a hospital executive team to review their survey results. While discussing strategic planning, the CEO informed us that their hospital’s strategy is not to have a strategy.

This was the first time I had heard an administrator state this tactic so openly. With so much uncertainty around health care reform and reimbursement, it’s no wonder that hospitals and hospital executives have trouble establishing a cohesive long-term strategy. It’s also easy to see why a reactive approach might be more appealing than a proactive one.

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Drive engagement every day with one simple addition to your desk

July 23, 2013

Cate Summers, Survey Solutions

Frontline managers often describe themselves as being stuck between a rock and a hard place, with staff engagement a line item on an already long list of day-to-day operational duties.

While highly engaged organizations often attribute their success to robust action planning strategies—complex, manager-driven projects aren't the only way to move the dial on engagement.

On the contrary, enlisting frontline staff in your performance improvement efforts goes a long way in further engaging them: our national database indicates that consideration of staff input is one of the top 10 drivers of engagement. Smaller initiatives that require minimal effort can also have lasting effects on culture.

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