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Want to improve employee engagement? Start with, “Hello.”

Posted by Kristin Baird on September 26th, 2017 • No Comments »

It’s no secret that employee engagement is pivotal in creating a great patient experience. But even beyond that, engaged employees are much more likely to stay, produce more, and ultimately contribute to the organization’s success.

The question is; what does it take to engage employees and become a great place to work? I’ve seen many organizations grapple with these questions and embark on complex, multi-level, multi-year plans. Most start with an employee engagement survey in order to identify the issues and where there may be pockets of particularly disengaged associates. All of this is helpful in preparing a comprehensive action plan. But sometimes, part of the solution is much simpler and straight forward – and it’s right under their noses.

A few weeks ago, my colleagues and I were conducting employee focus groups as part of a larger culture assessment. During the focus group, we asked, “If you could wave a magic wand to change one thing that would improve the culture, what would that be?” One person spoke up and said, “I’d have the doctors look me in the eye and say hello. We spend all day, every day making sure they have what the need so they can be efficient and organized. They don’t even bother saying hello.”  I saw unanimous head-nodding in response to this statement.

Another participant spoke up and added, “I volunteered to help out another medical practice during a maternity leave. For four months I sat at the front desk, registering patients, taking calls, and scheduling. For four months, every day I would greet every one of the doctors entering the practice. They didn’t look at me for the most part and rarely responded to my greeting. After four months, not one of them knew my name. I felt like I really didn’t matter. I’m good at my job. I deliver great customer service, but in reality, I don’t matter here.”

These statements were heartbreaking. They provided a great reminder that engagement starts with showing respect and common courtesy to one another. Although this example cited physicians, there have been many similar discussions pointing out the same issues with leaders or other staff. What the employees described are observable behaviors. Leaders owe it to the rest of the team to watch for this type of behavior and address it immediately.

Want to change the culture? Start with hello. It’s free, doesn’t take extensive training, and you can start right now.

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Baird Consulting


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