Having a sense of purpose isn’t something you can write into an employee job description, but it is critically important in their engagement. Finding and nurturing a sense of purpose is a personal journey for each of us but in my opinion is vital to how healthcare workers engage in the patient experience. In a broad sense, purpose can be defined as “the reason for which something exists or is done.” It is not the task at hand, but rather whether an individual sees how that task fits into the greater scheme of the organization. Employees who see that their work has a direct and significant impact on the world around them are more likely to tackle that work with passion—they aren’t just in it for the paycheck.
I think having a connection to purpose is first and foremost an inside job. In other words, it’s something each of us has to find for ourselves and will be shaped in part by personal values. Take for instance the housekeeper who personally values helping others. When she cleans a room, she doesn’t see her work as simply completing a checklist, but rather sees her role as vital to the patient and family experience. Although not a nurse, she sees herself as caring for others by creating a positive first impression and fostering trust.
Leaders who invest the time in helping employees develop their personal connection to the work at hand will be rewarded with a more engaged staff who routinely goes the extra mile. Igniting a sense of purpose and passion has a direct payback for both the leader and the employee. Just as the leader will reap benefits from a from a more engaged team, employees who take the time to link their personal values to their work will be rewarded with a greater sense of purpose about their work that runs much deeper than their next paycheck.
Helping yourself and your co-workers to see the connections between personal values and organizational values will help foster a deeper engagement and sense of purpose. Periodically reflect on your own connection to purpose. Make it a point to ask individuals how they’re making a difference and how they’re living out their values thorough their work. Helping them intentionally reflect on their purpose creates more aware, committed employees who are much more likely to deliver a better patient experience.