Thriving Workplace Culture
Part of establishing a thriving workplace culture is providing opportunities for employees. We often think of promotions and pay increases as opportunities, but there’s so much more that you can do to empower employees through opportunities. Ask Fuel First answers a question about workplace culture: What are some opportunities that I can incorporate in my practice that will enhance my employees’ experience?
Providing your employees with different opportunities can positively affect your workplace culture. Opportunity is more than the lure of promotions and pay increases. It’s about preparing and empowering employees to make decisions, inviting them to the table to share their ideas and allowing them to give input on changes. It’s about getting their opinions on decisions and having them work on projects individually or on a team that will expand their skills and relationships.
How Can you Provide More Opportunities for your Employees?
One way to allow employees to be involved in problem-solving is to set up a team to map the Patient Journey. To do this, you’ll need to gather a cross-functional team so the group gains different perspectives from each area of your practice. Then ask them to problem solve an issue you’d like to address. If you’re having trouble with patient check-in, for example, some questions that you can ask to get the conversation moving are:
- What does the patient think when it takes too long to check-in?
- What questions does a patient have during check-in?
- How do you think the patient feels about the efficiency of our check-in process?
What’s an Example of Opportunity in Practice?
A 10-doctor medical group we work with was experiencing problems with patient satisfaction. Patient satisfaction surveys post-visit were coming back with dropping scores. The number one complaint from patients was long wait times. The solution they ultimately implemented was easy, cost-effective and had been previously overlooked by leadership.
To address the problem, the group’s leadership went to their playbook for answers. First, they hired two more doctors, thinking that would decrease wait times and improve patient satisfaction. It didn’t work. In fact, patients somehow grew less satisfied. The group’s leaders then invested in new scheduling software and changed their scheduling protocols to help them better spread their appointments. Even that did little to improve patient satisfaction scores. It seemed that no matter what changes the medical group leaders made, it only compounded the problem further.
Finally, at their wits end, they took the problem to a small task force comprised of front-line staff. It wasn’t the wait time patients were complaining about like they initially thought, that was actually just anecdotal information captured by ONE date point. What they learned by sharing the patient satisfaction surveys with the people who dealt with patient complaints was that the issue wasn’t that the patient had to wait – it was that NO ONE seemed to care.
Their solution? Have staff inform each patient there is a wait time. When the medical assistant comes to get the patient, they apologize for running late. And when the doctor finally sees the patient, they also apologize for the inconvenience.
As a result of this change, patient satisfaction scores improved. In fact, the satisfaction scores were higher than when they noticed there was a problem. The best part of this solution is that the changes they implemented didn’t cost a dime.
There are plenty of stories illustrating how some of the best solutions come from the front line. The best part of having employees involved in finding solutions is that they now own them. They feel like they have a voice and know their ideas contribute to the practice’s success. This is how you begin to establish a thriving workplace culture in your organization.
What is Another Way to Create Opportunity?
If your organization is like Fuel Medical, there aren’t a lot of chances for promotions. Many positions simply don’t have steps built-in for advancement. What we have done to keep employees engaged with the organization is to offer other opportunities. These opportunities might look like the following:
- Giving an employee a new project where they work with a cross-functional team. Sometimes day-to-day work gets mundane, so a new project can add some variety. The cross-functional teams allow employees to work with people they might not collaborate with often. Some projects your teams might work on include streamlining the check-in process, reviewing new patient forms or creating a more efficient patient flow.
- Giving an employee a fun project to organize, such as being in charge of a potluck or a holiday party.
- Having an employee mentor a new hire. At Fuel Medical, we have a Buddy Program where new employees pair with another employee outside their typical work team to get a different perspective of the organization. This program benefits current employees because they now have the new responsibility of guiding another person.
Why Should I Worry About Opportunities for Employees?
By offering opportunities, you are enhancing the employee experience. It addresses burnout by providing new challenges. You are also empowering your staff to make decisions. This is part of building a culture where changes come from the bottom up rather than the top down.
If you want to put the ideas of this article into practice, think of a person on your team that could benefit from an opportunity for growth, and brainstorm three ways to initiate opportunities for that employee. Then check out other Ask Fuel First articles and videos to learn about topics that relate to your practice.