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The “Superbug” of the Health Care Industry: Disengagement

Thanks to the media, we have all heard of a number of new and imperishable “superbugs” that are just waiting to sneak into our systems and wreak havoc. But one kind of superbug which is rarely spoken of — but that is just as hazardous to the health care industry — is the very viral superbug called “disengagement.” Employee engagement in health care should be treated before the situations becomes dire.

Why Disengagement May Be Plaguing Your Organization

The health care industry thrives on communication. For instance, health care professionals tell patients their test results, communicate patient statuses amongst one another, and chat about shift changes. Without communication, health care professionals would not be able to stay up to date on information that is imperative to the lives of their patients and themselves. Shockingly, there are still many different levels of disconnect that exist in the volatile and ever-changing health care environment between the organization, management, and front-line workers.

The disconnect that currently exists has a number of negative effects across the board, though one main ailment created by it is disengagement. As workers have a harder time communicating essential information amongst one another, the stress of the job increases and the job becomes more difficult. When that heightened difficulty is matched with the impression that you are stuck with only dead-end “solutions,” one becomes infected with increasing levels of disengagement, unless properly treated.

Treat the Cause, Not the Symptoms

While it is true that information has recently become more accessible because of digitization and electronic records, it is clearly not accessible enough. In one study, it was revealed that nurses were only spending around two hours of a twelve-hour shift with patients because they are so bogged down with gathering resources and information necessary to do their job and do it well. Much like pain killers, the medicine treats the symptoms but not the cause. The real problem is the virus — the lack of engagement or complete detachment from the organization. Fortunately, although there is seemingly no solution for the real superbugs in the world today, there is a solution when it comes to the superbug of employee disengagement.

How to Reconnect Workers

The prescription for disengagement is reconnection. The best way to accomplish this is by creating a safe and transparent two-way dialogue that brings the management of an organization and the front-line employees together. This can be accomplished by:

1. Harnessing Mobile Technologies

No employee in the health care industry will remain in the exact same location for an extended period of time, apart from a surgery where accessibility is still key. Staff are constantly moving, and if the organization is not moving along with them, then they will be gone and out of shouting distance in no time. Going mobile, or at the very least, upgrading the pager to something that is more user-friendly and intuitive will go a long way in increasing engagement, as well as health care to patient interactions.

2. Making It Easy

Front-line workers have a vast amount of in-depth knowledge which will greatly benefit management and organizations as a whole, but if communicating is too difficult, those front-line workers will be unlikely to share their thoughts and ideas. Create a plan which will allow these employees to communicate easily and effectively with management, whether that be in person, through email, or even sending texts, and be sure that management responds promptly.

3. Keep It Positive

There is no question that the health care industry is one that is incredibly stressful and tiring, but even so, management must always respond to their staff in a positive manner (keep in mind that the stress you are feeling is likely at the same level of that of your staff). Should a suggestion that someone makes not be worth exploring, kindly tell them so and explain why. If a suggestion is one that is worth looking into, thank them and then follow up later on. If a suggestion is easy to implement, strongly consider it — you could make the life of one or more employees significantly happier with positive changes implemented, and consequently, boosting morale amongst all of your staff.

At the end of the day, we all want to feel happy and fulfilled by the work that we do. In management, you have the privileged position of making that a greater possibility for the employees of the organization. By considering and possibly implementing these three considerations, you will see an increased level of engagement, which will lead to happier — and more productive — employees.


Harness the power of employee ideas.