Every leader knows the importance of employee engagement. Without engagement, you won’t be able to deliver the safe, high-quality care you promise. Engagement requires that employees feel valued, appreciated, and secure. At the same time, business decisions, if not handled carefully, could be sending messages that everyone is expendable.
“So and so is no longer with us”
Over the past few weeks, I’ve had two different colleagues tell me that their positions have been eliminated after decades of service to their healthcare organizations. During their tenure, they have developed trusting relationships with patients and co-workers and served on many teams to enhance the culture and build employee engagement and patient loyalty. When senior leaders announced that these individuals were leaving the organization, in both cases, a memo was sent out saying something like: “So and so is no longer with us. We thank him for his 22 years with us and wish him well in his new endeavors.” Just like that. Gone.
While I realize it is difficult for senior executives to admit that job losses are due to reorganization and budget cuts, the lack of communication creates a huge void and feeds the rumor mill. Those left behind reel from the announcement and suffer survivor’s guilt. The survivors frequently question, “If they got rid of this person after 22 years of service, could I be next?”
Engagement requires that employees can place their trust in administration. Think about Maslow’s Hierarchy of Human Needs. No one will reach the top of the pyramid, performing at their optimal level when they feel unsafe.
The solution? Communicate openly and honestly.