"Our employees are our most valuable asset” is often overheard in organizations, and thriving organizations supply plenty of evidence to prove it. Consider these findings:
- Engaged employees stay. There is a high correlation between employee engagement and retention. Organizations with high employee engagement tend to experience 51% less turnover than organizations with low engagement. Thus, organizations with higher retention rates avoid the exorbitant costs of recruitment, hiring, orientation, training, onboarding, and the loss of productivity in other staff experienced through precepting and team-forming. Studies show that a new employee costs the organization 2.5 times the cost of the employee who left. (Deloitte)
- Hospitals with the highest levels of employee engagement also have the highest patient experience scores. (Studer Group)
- A correlation of .85 is statistically evident between engaged employees and engaged customers. (Harvard Business Review)
- When companies have engaged employees, they gain 300% more innovation than companies with average engagement levels. (Gallup)
- Nurse engagement is key to reducing medical errors. Engaged employees are more meticulous in their approach to their work. They also tend to report unethical behaviors as well as service and quality problems. (Gallup)
- Organizations with high levels of engagement are 3.5 times more profitable than organizations with average levels of engagement. (Wharton)
Beyond statistics and correlations, observable human dynamics are also highly evident. Engaged employees:
- Are driven to provide great patient experiences;
- Have a strong work ethic;
- Remain committed and most likely to help coworkers be successful;
- Exhibit strong aspects of great team members being compelled to collaborate and create high functioning and productive teams;
- Create contagious environments of engagement through positive coworker relationships as others choose to be around them due to their positive energy; and
- Are your best marketers and ambassadors. They build and promote the reputation of your brand.
It’s no wonder that employee engagement is among the top three executive priorities (Deloitte, 2017)!
These days, smart leaders embrace going beyond the rhetoric and commit to taking strategic steps to inspire, strengthen and appreciate employee engagement.
The Job of Leaders
We can’t motivate employees, but we certainly have the power to create an environment that triggers others’ intrinsic motivation. The primary foundation for this environment begins with the actions, words, and behaviors of leadership. As leaders, it is imperative to be authentic and caring. We need to build relationships with every individual on our team.
The C.A.R.I.N.G. Path to Employee Engagement: Guidelines for Leaders
For years, I have helped myself and other leaders remember the foundation and guidelines for creating an environment of engagement in an easily remembered acronym—C.A.R.I.N.G.
- C for Connect: Connect regularly in ways that the employee finds meaningful (e.g. via thoughtful rounding). Also, help employees connect with each other (e.g. via huddles, team meetings, and team-building events).
- A for Autonomy: Hold employees accountable for safety, quality, and results, but give them the latitude to decide how they get the work done and make decisions in the moment (e.g. about pace, flow, methods, and how to respond to customers’ requests, difficult situations, and complaints). Of course, this applies after employees have become competent to handle their responsibilities; autonomy too soon leads to job failures that inversely impact relationships and retention.
- R for Recognition: Figure out how employees prefer to be appreciated. Then, use that knowledge to appreciate them for reaching milestones, going above and beyond, being appreciated by others, dealing with difficult situations well, timeliness and more. Employees want to be noticed for their strengths and contributions in a way that is meaningful and comfortable for them.
- I for Interest: Show genuine interest in each employee as an individual. Make small talk. Learn from them about their preferred work style, strengths, learning goals, and aspirations. Get to know what they like about their job, what keeps them “here”, what would make them want to leave, and relationships with peers. Also, acknowledge life events and what is important to them outside of work.
- N for Needs Assessment: Learn about the most important needs every individual has so you can help to address them. Recognize that needs vary by generation, and, within each generational group, there are individual differences. What does each individual want currently and in the future? What do they need to do their job well? What do they find motivating and energizing? What stands in their way and makes their job harder? What are their ideas about improvements and innovations?
- G for Get Together: Get Together highlights the importance of direct face-to-face contact. In-person, 1-on-1 meetings cannot be replaced by phone calls, emails, texts and team meetings. Meet in the employee’s workspace, not yours. Deliver bad news in person never via electronic means. Provide staff with time to socialize—to be human, and time to build relationships apart from the tasks of their jobs.
I pass this challenge to you: Do your most important work for your organization by creating the environment necessary for employees to engage. Remember this well-established fact: Employees quit their manager/supervisor more often than they quit their job or organization. The frontline leader is key to employee engagement and retention, and the frontline leader has the most to gain by becoming effective with C.A.R.I.N.G.
Driven by a passionate commitment to strengthen humanism in healthcare, Language of Caring® partners with healthcare organizations to create exceptional experiences and communities of caring through communication skill-building. Grounded in decades of experience and research, our offerings include a rich array of leadership development and support services as well as skill-building programs for staff and physicians – all designed to enhance the patient, family, and team experience.