8 Ways Top Hospital Leaders Encourage Employee Development

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Employee development – ​​encouraging staff members to pursue promotions, additional degrees, credentials or personal improvement in areas of weakness – is essential to building a hospital of engaged and motivated colleagues. Eric Barbier, CEO of Northeast Regional Medical Center in Kirksville, Mo., and Jay Morris, JD, PhD, vice president for education and executive director for Yale New Haven, Conn. Institute for Health System Excellencediscuss eight strategies that give employees the tools to pursue their goals.

1. They break down barriers between administration and staff. Many hospital administrators are trying to dismantle the hierarchy in their facilities, a structure that encourages employees to go through the “chain of command” to submit ideas. Employee engagement efforts indicate that the workplaces with the happiest employees have often fostered a strong bond between management and staff, meaning nurses can chat comfortably with the CEO and leaders are frequently seen in the corridors of the hospital. “As CEO, I don’t want to be a stranger in an office,” Barber says. “I want to be on the floors, in the operating room, in the emergency room, in contact with the doctors, the employees, the visitors and the patients themselves.” He says this level of visibility lets employees know they are valued and empowered to grow throughout the organization. Rather than burying himself in an administrative “ivory tower,” Mr. Barber walks the halls of the hospital to demonstrate that he is open to ideas and considers hospital employees as his colleagues.

2. They make it easier to obtain higher degrees.
Hospitals that encourage employee development will not put obstacles in the way of staff members who wish to return to school. Information about advanced degrees and credentials should be introduced from the earliest days of employee orientation, and the application process and tuition reimbursement policies should be clear and understandable. Tuition Reimbursement at Yale-New Haven Hospital provides tuition reimbursement and loan forgiveness for programs in nursing, diagnostic imaging, respiratory therapy, and other fields. “We will support employee payments up to a certain amount, which requires a certain commitment [to the hospital] once the program is finished,” says Morris. Northeast Regional offers a formal program that encourages employees to seek a master’s degree or technical certification and reimburses tuition up to a certain amount. The hospital also has a program called Going the Extra Mile, a sort of “clinical ladder” that rewards employees who take courses and take on additional projects within the hospital. “At the end of the year, there’s a monetary premium for the progress they’re making on that,” Barber says. Information on tuition reimbursement, courses offered by the hospital, and loan forgiveness should be readily available on the hospital’s website and mentioned at meetings with supervisors and at scale gatherings. of the hospital.

3. They install 90-day improvement plans.
In encouraging employee development, look beyond obvious candidates — those who clearly excel at their jobs — and identify those who might need more help, Barber says. Northeast Regional has a process that categorizes each employee as high performer, average performer or low performer. For high achievers, supervisors are encouraged to talk about opportunities to advance their careers, seek tuition reimbursement, or take additional courses. For students with average and low performance, supervisors put in place a 90-day improvement plan. “It’s about creating clear expectations,” he says. “I think the process does a good job of empowering people to improve and making sure we don’t allow slackers to opt out. [other employees]. We want the best and most successful employees to know that they are truly appreciated and recognized for their efforts. A 90-day plan is an effective tool because it gives a struggling employee a set of obvious goals and a timeline to achieve them.

Mr. Morris reiterates the importance of establishing clear objectives for each employee at the beginning of the year. If you want employees to grow and develop in a certain direction, clearly point out that direction and explain the steps to get there. “Early on in the year, the manager discusses goals for the year and career aspirations, and employees work with the manager on their goals,” he says. “There should never be any surprises in a performance review.”

4. They search the organization for leadership candidates. Mr. Barber says encouraging employee development and growth will benefit an organization when it comes to finding future hospital leaders. Human Resources can post job openings within the organization on the hospital’s intranet system to give employees the opportunity to review openings and speak to their supervisors. If a certain employee is a good fit for a leadership position, the administration may benefit from hiring a new leader who already knows the hospital culture, understands the policies, and feels committed to the organization. Promoting from within also shows other employees that they are valued and that they could be the next to be promoted if they work hard. “Our assistant general manager was here with us as a resident and was promoted to assistant general manager, which is a great example of that,” Barber says.

5. They offer career advice and courses. Career counseling can be helpful for employees whose resumes, interview skills, or job search skills could be improved. Career counseling also gives employees a space to share their goals without feeling like they are venting their dissatisfaction with their current position to a supervisor. Yale New Haven Hospital sponsors career exploration sessions for employees where employees can obtain college and career development information, as well as recovery assistance through human resources. “We’re working to make sure that through HR we let employees know what’s available to them and look at their strengths,” Mr Morris said.

Yale-New Haven employees can also take advantage of courses that teach skills that might not require a degree. Courses for employees include conflict resolution, diversity and presentation skills; staff members looking for a promotion can take an “aspiring manager” class. “Employees can sit in a two-day session about what’s required of a manager, then have a conversation with their supervisor about what’s expected,” says Morris.

6. They expect leaders to improve too. Don’t assume that just because an employee has been promoted to a leadership position, they are done with their professional development. Morris says Yale New Haven offers a long list of courses for directors, including a six-month program with the Yale School of Management that mentors leaders in partnership with the university. Managers can also take courses on interviewing and selection, performance feedback, finance, service excellence, and employee engagement during hospital working hours. The hospital also offers a three-month course for lead physicians. At Northeast Regional, managers can take advantage of courses that teach them how to talk to employees about improvement. “It’s a tough conversation to have, and we provide ongoing coaching to administrators on how to have those conversations. You praise them and you coach them, then you praise them again. I’m in care administration health for 10 years, and I’m not perfect at it. It’s something you need to perfect,” Barber says.

7. They associate with sister organizations. If your hospital is part of a network of partner hospitals or is located near a trade school or community college, take advantage of these relationships to create employee development programs. Northeast Regional’s parent company, Community Health Systems, gives hospital administration the opportunity to discuss best practices in employee engagement and development with other leaders. “Every two months we meet with the directors and hold a leadership development institute,” says Barber. “It reflects the Studer principles of Quint Studer, and we take this opportunity to bring everyone together and discuss common issues. We have the opportunity to discuss how we engage in difficult conversations with [low performing employees]for example. Morris says Yale New Haven has benefited immensely from its association with Yale University, which helps the hospital offer management courses, programs for vice presidents and leadership courses for physicians.

8. They encourage employee contribution. Even if employees are not looking to grow within the organization, they may wish to extend their reach within the hospital by offering suggestions for improvement. Don’t let employees feel locked into their particular roles; Design multiple suggestion lanes so that staff from any department can submit ideas and receive feedback. Yale-New Haven has an online program called Work Smart, which allows staff members to submit ideas online. The ideas are then reviewed by a committee, and the committee’s comments are communicated directly to the employees whose suggestions have been accepted. “Then those employees are recognized and rewarded,” says Morris.

At the Northeast Regional, the hospital has devised several ways to encourage employee contribution. “About 50% of employees are ready to have a conversation [about their ideas with their supervisor]“, says Mr. Barber. “For those who are not, we try to provide several different forums for them to provide feedback. We have a very strong employee satisfaction survey. The hospital recorded a 100 percent employee participation rate in this year’s survey, thanks in part to Mr. Barber’s efforts to promote the survey. The hospital’s pressure for feedback is evident in the results: , Employee satisfaction survey feedback was so numerous that it filled more than four pages. The hospital also has an old-fashioned suggestion box, and Mr. Barber hosts anniversary luncheons to give employees a chance to chat with the CEO once a year. Open forums and town hall meetings are also held regularly to discuss hospital issues and solicit feedback.

Learn more about employee engagement in healthcare:

-12 best practices for making hospitals great places to work

-6 Tips to Improve Hospital Employee Engagement

-Study Reveals Most Satisfied and Least Satisfied Hospital Employees

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