Best Practices for Employee Inclusion in Healthcare
Including employees in the workplace is essential because the initiative makes workers feel appreciated and part of the organization, boosting their morale and productivity. Despite the multiple benefits associated with employee inclusion, very few firms embrace the practice. Surprisingly, healthcare organizations, which critically require the involvement of all stakeholders for the development of quality care, are among the industries that lag in practices that promote employee inclusion. In fact, studies conducted by Towers Watson revealed that less than 44% of the United States hospital workers are highly engaged in the workforce (Sherwood para. 2). Such statistics imply that a large percentage of individuals that work in the healthcare sector are either less engaged or disengaged in major plans made within their facilities. Failure of organizations to foster the participation of employees in healthcare may have a negative implication on the workforce because the turnover rate may increase, lowering the number of hours that a practitioner spends with a patient, which may, in turn, compromise healthcare outcomes. This phenomenon is evident from previous studies, which showed that 43% of disengaged hospital workers would be more interested in other employment options (Sherwood para. 3). Amidst the highlighted healthcare adversities, medical facilities should adopt the best practices for employee inclusion to boost both work performance and healthcare outcomes.
So far, there lacks a standard definition of inclusion. However, some of the scholars that have shown great interest in the subject aver that inclusion focuses on “encouraging participation and moving beyond merely appreciating diversity” (Nair and Vohra 9). This implies that unlike diversity, which entails fostering a workforce that is all-encompassing of various demographics, such as age, gender, religion, and ethnicity, inclusion focuses on ensuring that the diverse workforce participates in decision-making processes. Nair and Vohra also add that inclusion “focuses on employee involvement and ways to increase the participation of all workers and leverage the organisation’s diversity effects” (9). In a healthcare context, inclusion may be regarded as the practice of involving the healthcare workforce in everyday plans and developing new strategies to enhance their participation. Therefore, regardless of the different terminologies scholars may use to describe the concept, one thing remains clear, inclusion entails activities conducted to foster a culture of participation among all employees.
Importance of Employee Inclusion in Healthcare
The criticality of employee inclusion in healthcare may be understood better by focusing on the challenges of having a disengaged workforce, among them, high losses of revenue. Studies reveal that each disengaged nurse costs an organization $22,200 in lost revenue, which equates to $333,000 per year in a hospital with 100 nurses (Dempsey and Reilly). Indeed, this is alarming, considering that the statistics exclude other medical practitioners such as doctors. The above losses of revenue may arise from two factors; medical errors that lead to high compensations or low productivity, which leads to lower demand for services within an organization. Disengaged employees may be less motivated to participate in providing quality services, and in some cases, they may indulge in practices that harm patients. In such instances, an organization may be held liable to compensate for health damages caused by their workers, leading to losses in revenue. In other scenarios, reduced participation of employees in healthcare can lead to the provision of poor services, prompting patients to seek care from other facilities with a motivated and productive workforce. The losses of revenue arising from compensation requirements and lowered demand resulting from lower productivity among healthcare workers, is among the reasons employee participation should be fostered.
In addition to losses in revenue, having a disengaged workforce can increase administrative costs in healthcare. This may be caused by the high turnover rate associated with employee disengagement. For instance, studies reveal that the average turnover rate for disengaged nurses in the United States in 2014 was 16.4% (Dempsey and Reilly). The rate may have likely increased over the years, considering the multiple barriers that hinder human resource departments from fostering employee participation in the workplace. A high turnover rate may subject healthcare organizations to additional costs to replace the number of employees who leave a company. For instance, more resources may be required to pay external recruiters, cater for an interview and post-interview costs, and train the new workforce to achieve optimal productivity. Thus, to promote high standards of employee retention and avoid such financial burdens, healthcare organizations should indulge in practices that foster employee inclusion.
Employees’ disengagement can also compromise the quality of care and taint an organization’s image among members of the public. Scholars suggest that disengaged employees perform work with less-than-optimal attitude, take longer to complete routine tasks, and fail to go above and beyond when needed (Dempsey and Reilly). The above practices may have adverse effects on the delivery of care, especially when the employees are unsupervised. For instance, healthcare practitioners who take longer to complete routine tasks can put the lives of patients in danger during emergencies. In addition, the failure of healthcare practitioners to go beyond their limits during practice can compromise care; hence, patients’ medical conditions may remain unchanged or deteriorate during treatment. Furthermore, attending to patients with a less-than-optimal attitude can prevent the administration of quality care required to improve their well-being. A recurrent trend of such attributes among healthcare providers can attract attention among patients, who may develop a negative perception of the facility and taint its image among potential clients. Hence, healthcare organizations can adopt the best practices for employee inclusion to prevent such adversities.
Best Practices for Employee Inclusion in Healthcare
One of the best practices for employee inclusion is having clearly-defined broad personal and organizational goals. Scholars observe that formal organizational goals increase employees’ motivation and performance (Choon and Patrick 83). By setting organizational goals, managements define the projected score that ought to be attained, and as such, workers may put into ensuring that the set score is achieved. Similarly, having a common organizational goal in the healthcare sector, whether short or long-term, motivates medical practitioners to work effortlessly to achieve it. In addition, it fosters a culture of inclusion because employees are consistently reminded of the importance of their contribution to fulfilling the set goals. Apart from organizational goals, helping employees define their personal goals is also ideal practice for employees’ inclusion in the workplace. The exercise increases the participation of all employees in healthcare matters by helping them understand how individual tasks are critical in attaining the organizational goal. Employee inclusion can be fostered in healthcare by setting organisational and personal goals.
Offering rewards is also among the practices that can foster the participation of employees in healthcare. Scholars argue that compared to individuals’ skills, an incentive system encourages intrinsic motivation and leads to hardworking efforts (Alfandi and Alkahsawneh 329). Several factors can trigger outstanding behavior and voluntary involvement of workers in everyday activities, among them the feeling of satisfaction at their workplace. However, by developing an incentive system and offering rewards, the human resource department can foster participation among all employees because individuals would feel valued and appreciated for their effort at work. Besides, those that do not receive the rewards may be inspired to work harder to receive similar treatment. The awards can take different forms, financial and non-financial, and may be developed based on a company’s policy. For instance, non-financial incentives such as congratulatory messages may be sent to employees in the healthcare system to recognize their effort in achieving a specific goal. Alternatively, rewards may be offered in the form of money to appreciate individuals whose performance is outstanding. Regardless of the nature of the incentive that the human resource department selects, it can play a vital role in fostering employee inclusion in healthcare.
Another form of appreciation that can increase employees’ participation in healthcare is public recognition of champion practitioners and broadcasting inspirational narratives. As noted by some experts, “employees do not automatically become engaged when you give them more praise, thanks, or any other type of acknowledgment, but they can quickly become disengaged if they feel like they are invisible” (Kappel para. 14). Employees may be more engaged in activities within a facility if they perceive some form of acknowledgment from the management. Recognizing and broadcasting the achievement of champion nurses and doctors is among various approaches in which the human resource department can portray its value for healthcare workers. In doing so, the champion employees may feel appreciated and further motivated to provide quality care in the facility. Just like a reward system, broadcasting narratives of practitioners that have outstanding performance can inspire others to work towards the same achievement, hence, increasing their engagement in the workplace. Therefore, recognizing champion practitioners and broadcasting their success stories can trigger employee inclusion in healthcare.
Creating platforms and forums where employees can connect is also ideal for employee inclusion in healthcare. Notably, some of the forums that may work best among healthcare practitioners include formal discussions and team activities. Studies show that the dimensions of employee engagement related to teamwork are mainly influenced by team dialogue sessions (Seymour and Geldenhuys 987). Dialogues and discussions enable healthcare providers to indulge in a collective inquiry into diverse matters within the industry. For instance, practitioners can address issues they face in their daily activities and attempt to develop ways of overcoming them. The above form of connection between employees facilitates a feeling of identity and belonging because practitioners can understand that some of the problems they face in the industry are not unique since they are familiar to most of the workforce. In addition, being part of the team makes the employees feel that their views are valued, thus, increasing their motivation and involvement in healthcare matters. Therefore, by connecting healthcare workers through discussions and team activities, human resource departments can promote employee inclusion in healthcare.
Exercising transparency is also a useful practice for employee inclusion in healthcare. Findings from previous studies reveal a strong relationship between employee trust, work performance, job satisfaction, organizational citizenship behavior, and employee engagement (Jiang and Luo 138). Arguably, facilities that embrace high levels of transparency are more likely to foster a feeling of trust among workers, which may, in turn, motivate the latter to be highly engaged in organizational activities. In healthcare, transparency is portrayed in different approaches, including the way major decisions are made and the existence of clearly established communication channels. One of the strategies in which the human resource unit can exercise transparency is by either involving all workers or their representatives in critical decision-making processes. Such initiatives make it easier for employees to share their views about matters that affect them and the direction in which they believe the firm should take. In addition, it boosts engagement as employees develop the feeling that the management values their opinion while issues that affect them are addressed adequately. Organizational transparency promotes trust and motivation among workers, making it an effective practice for employee inclusion in healthcare.
Furthermore, providing equal training opportunities for workers can increase their involvement in healthcare. Studies conducted in the health sector revealed that there is a strong correlation between training and employee performance (Sendawula 8). Notably, it is argued that healthcare organizations that offer job training to their workers are more likely to record high employee performance. Similarly, Siddiqui and Sahar stated that management could increase engagement levels by fulfilling the training needs of employees (23). Although most of the healthcare workforce exhibits high levels of competence, many employees are often in search of further training to cope with the dynamism in the healthcare industry. This aspect is solidified by a Gallup poll, which revealed that 87% of millennials and 69% of non-millennials rank development as a critical factor in their work (Kappel). In addition to considerable remuneration, workers are more attracted and committed to facilities that offer them a chance to develop their careers. By providing equal training opportunities, human resource departments may portray their willingness to promote professional development; thus, making employees feel valued. This can, in turn, enhance motivation and foster a culture of employee engagement in the healthcare sector.
While the aspect of training is an ideal way to increase employee participation, the practice also facilitates other habits, such as bonding, which encourages the involvement of workers in the workplace. Studies show that common training programs are ideal setups where co-workers can bond and connect with the organization (Kappeal). This may especially be the case for recruits who have yet to understand their responsibilities within the firm fully. While bonding, employees enjoy the opportunity to develop workplace relationships critical for personal and professional development. In addition, workplace friendships enable workers to have a handle on their duties within the facility, thus enhancing their engagement. This fact is solidified by previous research, which showed that 69% and 28% of employees with and without friends were engaged in their workplace, respectively (Kappel). These statistics prove that workplace relationships are vital in enhancing employee engagement. Thus, offering training opportunities that foster such relationships is critical to employee inclusion.
Diversity, a highly researched management concept, is also crucial for employee inclusion. A diverse workforce characterizes the healthcare industry, and employees may encounter multiple challenges, such as language barriers and cultural differences, when dealing with their colleagues. The adversities associated with diversity, such as the language barrier, can lead to decreased motivation and lowered productivity among employees, especially in instances where the workforce cannot cooperate effectively amidst their differences. However, firms that embrace diversity practices, such as enlightening their workforce about cultural differences, are said to have a high level of employee engagement. Scholars suggest that employees are more engaged when their work environment promotes psychological safety, meaningfulness, and availability (Downey et al. 38). One of the ways that the healthcare sector can improve psychological safety is by educating its workforce on cultural differences and urging all workers to respect and collaborate with individuals from different ethnicities, religions, gender, and age. As noted by Downey et al., participation in diversity initiatives signals employees that their employers care about their well-being (35). Therefore, employees would be more willing to participate in everyday activities of a healthcare facility if diversity practices are put in place to foster their emotional and psychological well-being.
Finally, involving healthcare workers in problem-solving processes is also ideal practice for employee inclusion. As mentioned earlier, today, employees value “visibility” (Kappeal). Hence, they are more willing to seek employment in organizations that value their contribution in different matters. Involving employees in problem-solving processes signals that the management recognizes their ability to undertake critical tasks within the organization, thus increasing their level of engagement.
As it is evident from the analysis, employee inclusion in healthcare is a critical factor. Healthcare facilities that experience employee disengagement are often at risk of incurring losses in revenue due to health damages caused by disengaged workers. In addition, disengagement leads to a high employee turnover rate, thus subjecting organizations to additional costs required to recruit and train new workers to perform at optimal levels of productivity. Furthermore, low productivity among employees can expose healthcare facilities to poor publicity among existing and potential clients.
To prevent some of the adversities linked to employee disengagement in healthcare, human resource departments should indulge in practices that foster employee participation. For instance, they should set clearly-defined organizational goals to remind workers of their role in facilitating the achievement of the set scores. The management should also help employees develop their personal goals so that they can understand the way in which their individual contribution facilitates the achievement of long term goals. Rewards to employees can also make them feel appreciated and trigger their engagement in healthcare activities. Recognizing champion practitioners and broadcasting their success stories can inspire other workers to fully engage in the organization to receive similar treatment. Providing equal training opportunities also shows promising results of fostering employee inclusion by enabling workers to achieve professional development and establish workplace relationships. Creating forums where workers can develop a connection with each other, exercising transparency, and involving employees in problem-solving processes are also ideal ways of triggering employees’ involvement in everyday activities within the healthcare industry.
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