This is part of a short series during the fall of 2020 that examines the employee experience. You can read part II here.
The pandemic has opened the eyes of employers around the world as to just how valuable – and vulnerable – their employees are. As many on-site professional responsibilities shifted to remote seemingly overnight, it was up to dedicated team members to ensure this transition was seamless. This most certainly includes the world of healthcare.
While clinical staff naturally had to remain on-site to battle the pandemic, many non-clinical departments had to tackle essential tasks and projects off-site – and often in ad hoc arrangements – that keep facilities’ doors open.
Parts of this shift to remote work may likely remain permanent in healthcare. Showing appreciation to staff members and keeping them engaged has always been vital, a focus that must continue into and beyond the shift. For patient well-being, productivity, and team morale, it’s imperative for healthcare organizations to amp up the employee experience—both remote and onsite. Here are 4 strategies to help your organization do just that:
#1: Remember that communication is key
We have so many methods of communication. Now’s the time to harness them. Whether it’s email, SMS, Slack, Zoom, or other platforms conducive to your team’s needs, you can easily keep remote team members feeling connected and engaged.
Of course quality is more impactful than quantity. Think about what works for you and for your team:
- How flexible do you need them to be?
- What are their communication styles?
- How long and how frequent should meetings or short catch-ups be?
- What about your pre-pandemic communication styles can be improved?
- What suggestions for changes do your team members have and what changes are they most comfortable with?
Take time to re-evaluate how you approach communication. Ask your team to share their feedback with you directly and via surveys. This can give you insight into their preferences and show that you value their opinions.
Recognize the possible downsides of communication in remote work. Collaborate with your team on ways to keep those aha moments alive and well. Your team’s new normal shouldn’t come at the expense of learning.
Sure, much of the work can be successfully accomplished when working remote, but how are you providing your team with opportunities to grow? Some may do best with those in-person helpful shoulder taps and those “You did it that way, but try it this way next time” moments with more experienced colleagues.
Whatever the dynamics may be for you team, don’t forget the value of quick appreciatory messages. These subtle gestures go a long way – especially in our increasingly digital age.
#2: Create new social experiences
Work has never just been work. It is an inherently social experience. Those little chats people had pre-pandemic around the water cooler were more than just taking a little break; they were moments that mattered. They often sparked new ideas, a sense of team building, and a feeling of connection to our work.
The pandemic transformed these moments into something more intangible, but that doesn’t mean team building and connections are off the table. Research shows that games are a great way to boost morale, reduce anxiety, and improve collaboration. Consistently investing in such employee engagement activities can also help your team maintain a “sense of belonging and commitment” to the organization, amp up productivity, and improve employee satisfaction.
#3: Become goal-oriented
Many employers have relied on inflexible schedules for their teams. This doesn’t always work well in certain industries and organizations and certainly may not work well with remote team members.
Rather than watching a clock, consider collaborating with your staff to refocus on achieving goals. That means giving them the power to do things on their own schedule. This may mean instead of requiring everyone be online for certain hours that you request your team stick to weekly and monthly goals.
Switching up the approach may be a helpful transition in healthcare departments that are inherently focused on specific tasks or projects. It can lend itself to a long-term strategy to increase productivity and morale.
#4: Embrace work-life balance
Although an improved work-life balance is supposed to be one of the impactful advantages of working remotely, you may find it hard to know when to log off. That feeling and confusion may then trickle down to your team.
Set a policy of not reaching out after work hours or on weekends unless absolutely necessary. To prevent burnout and protect morale, center this new policy as part of your post-pandemic company culture and stick to it. Employees model your behavior. Contacting them during off-hours is often stressful for them and can prompt them to feel as if they should be working instead of making the most of their time away from work.
Focusing on the big picture
The balance of employee experience and ensuring optimal performance is delicate in many industries. Creating an atmosphere of fun, inspiration, and focus shouldn’t be based 100% on where the job is. It’s most certainly a crucial aspect to consider, as is the freedom involved in the experience.
Earning buy-in from your team on your organization’s bigger picture is imperative no matter where the work is completed. Plan for that to prove challenging when you have teams at home. Strategize your way through those challenges and be flexible as the new normal for us all continues to evolve.