There’s a reason why some practices are simply more successful than others. Surprisingly, the root of this accomplishment is not patient satisfaction. In fact, the most productive and efficient practices can actually boast a high level of employee satisfaction as the primary source of their achievements.
That’s right—happy employees are the key to practice success.
As a recent article in Physicians Practice pointed out, “Often, at the root of patient satisfaction problems are employee satisfaction problems.” As any good manager will tell you, keeping your staff motivated and positive increases productivity and improves overall outcomes across any industry–including healthcare, where outcomes are especially important and can often mean the difference between life and death.
Below are the 10 basic pillars for practice success. Incorporating any of these improvements into your practice can help boost employee satisfaction and increase your organization’s ability to manage the daily stresses that are common within the industry—all in a way that results in happy employees and healthier patients.
Positive office culture
Founder and CEO of BerylHealth, Paul Spiegelman, told Becker’s Hospital Review, many healthcare practices and hospitals have discovered that “the only way to be patient-focused is to be employee-focused and to start first with developing an environment in which employees enjoy what they do every day.”A positive office culture is the foundation of employee satisfaction, and it begins with the leadership team. Managers, doctors, and other upper level employees have to work with their support staff, provide encouragement, and offer genuine respect to those at all levels of the organization. By encouraging a team mentality among all members of your practice, you can build up morale and improve interactions among staff, which will, in turn, filter out to the patients. Happy employees love where they work, so give them a reason to love it.
Part of building a real team is being open with them about your practice goals and vision. Major changes that affect your practice as a whole should never come as a surprise. Your medical staff and employees need to trust that you have their best interests at heart. Being up front and honest about current or future objectives, whether positive or negative, are vital to establishing that trust and convincing employees that your organization sees them as more than just a number.
Encourage (and show) compassion and empathy
Practice success is largely wrapped up in a health outcomes, but the connection between those outcomes and the people who make them happen are often lost in translation. Patients choose a practice because they feel they can trust the medical professionals to take care of them, just as medical professionals choose a career for more than just the money. While practice staff should be encouraged to show compassion and empathy to patients, they should also receive that same compassion and empathy from managers and practice leadership. When staff and personnel experience their own medical issues or hard times, it’s important that they feel supported by their place of employment, in the same way that they would encourage and support their own patients. The spirit of empathy and compassion shouldn’t stop with the patients.
Treat employees as people, not resources
It’s easy to get caught up in the numbers when running a practice and lose sight of the individuals involved in making the practice great. Sometimes, when a patient complains or when a mistake is made all that we see are the negatives. Managers and leadership have to remember that staff members, medical professionals, and business office personnel all need to hear encouragement when problems arise and should be rewarded when they’ve conquered a bigger problem.
Support personal and professional growth
Remember that every member of your staff has dreams and goals to help them improve and grow. Mistakes should always be seen as a training opportunity and a chance to develop. Encourage staff to build up their portfolios and resumes. Push them to take that next step in their careers. The skills they bring to your practice will only reflect well on you and your team.
Involve employees in decisions
According to a recent article from Medical Practice Insider, “Asking employees for their opinion can be extremely empowering. It shows that you value their input and that you care about how a decision might affect their day-to-day work.” Decisions that affect the entire practice should not be made in a vacuum. They affect the whole office and could benefit from valuable input from that team. Who knows? Maybe the problem your practice has struggled with is more easily solved than you think. Different minds and opinions can bring new perspectives and solutions to the table. In any case, involving employees shows them that they matter—a recurring and vital component in creating happy employees and building practice success.
Build a sense of pride in your organization
Make your practice’s vision a part of everyday work culture and help your employees see the value in the work they do. While it’s important that they feel valued by their managers and leadership team, they sometimes need to be reminded of how important their work is in their community. Don’t let employees forget that they should be proud to be a part of your practice or hospital—and that everything they do makes a positive impact.
Make it fun
While medical work is not always fun, there are times when it can be. Take the opportunity to celebrate your team when you can. Create fun out-of-office activities to help them feel like they’re a part of something bigger, something real. Or, take a light afternoon and do something creative and fun for your patients and your team. Remember that treating patients isn’t just about battling off physical ailments; it’s just as much about inspiring your patients to live fuller, happier lives. A little fun can have a surprising impact on everyone involved.
Listen and communicate clearly
Make sure you hear your staff and that you make your expectations clear. Create a system, a buzz word, or just remind yourself regularly to pay attention to your employees and what they both say and don’t say about their needs. Sometimes, it can be hard for employees to communicate or voice an issue. Make your employees feel comfortable with bringing concerns to you, and take the time to resolve their issues. Communication is really the currency of a positive office culture, both the listening and the speaking. Make sure you’re equally generous in both capacities.
Lead by example
Finally, the most important aspect of practice success is leading by example. Staff members and employees need to see that their leadership lives by the same expectations, restrictions, and moral codes that they expect of their employees. They also need to see a positive attitude from those in charge.
Whether consciously or not, employees often emulate the disposition of their leadership team—or at least how they perceive them. Managers, doctors, and other leaders should try to maintain a positive attitude, willingness to learn, and sincerity as often as possible. Everyone has bad days, of course, but even those should be an example to your team of how to overcome challenges. In the end, it’s often the little choices and the day-to-day acts of kindness that will result in happy employees and a successful organization.