As the Baby Boomers retire and Millennials join the workforce, managers find themselves with a new challenge in engaging the staff. The baby boomers did not mind following strict rules, nor did they require a daily pat on the back. Most employees need more than just a task list. They need to feel valued, informed and engaged. Physician leaders and administrators can engage the staff more effectively if they are modeling a positive culture based on a mission statement, values and communicating goals. Behavior modeling creates a sense of trust and engagement in the staff that improves morale and retention. High turnover in a medical practice is stressful for everyone; the remaining staff must take on more work and re-train staff over, and over again. High staff turnover is costly – the time to interview, onboard staff and train staff reduces productivity, and it is a definite sign there is something wrong at the leadership level.
Most physicians are experiencing “burnout” due to challenges in health care and increasing patient volume. In past years, a group practice was led by a physician who was interested in the business of medicine; the others in the group simply supported the ideals of the lead physician. Physician and administrator relationships are the basis for building a positive culture. The physicians and the administrator should meet often. All physicians should be involved in business decisions and develop leadership styles to enhance a positive culture. New physicians have skills in technical aspects of practice management and can serve as a champion to guide new projects. An administrator skilled in communication and empowerment can engage staff and grow leaders. Practice administrators learn what motivates each employee, and they can influence the entire team by assuring conflict is avoided or resolved. An effective administrator assures the office is running smoothly and leads by example. The administrator is a coach in every sense; he or she impacts the physician leaders, the staff and the patients. An effective administrator seeks opportunities to build morale by celebrating work milestones, birthdays, or even organizing a company picnic.
Engaged employees contribute to the organization’s effectiveness. An engaged employee feels passionate about the job and is loyal to the practice. If an employee is emotionally committed to the practice, he or she is more committed to the goals of the practice. A workplace that encourages idea sharing and personal value will give leaders and employees a sense of purpose and belonging, which leads to empowerment. An engaged employee will be an advocate for the practice, they speak positively about their work and encourage others to be a part of the organization. As we invest in our employees and overall culture, we raise the level of expertise and strength. As the team grows stronger, the projects are successful and seamless because the administrator and the physicians can work at a higher level.
A positive culture shows in every aspect of the practice; the efficiency and cheerfulness of the staff and the overall experience of the patient. I spoke recently during a group staff meeting on patient satisfaction. We discussed body language, a patient can detect when a staff member does not care or is not happy with their job. The patient experience relies upon an engaged staff member. We discussed companies who have an exceptionally positive culture that is ‘’caught” not “taught.” A positive culture starts at the top and trickles down to everyone!
Article contributed by Tammie Lunceford, Healthcare and Dental Consultant, Warren Averett Healthcare Consulting Group. Warren Averett is an official Gold Partner with the Medical Association.