4 Simple Steps to Keeping your Nurses and Staff Excited and Engaged

Engaged nurses are both happy with their work and work harder than others. They’re the ones likely to go above and beyond, to stick with the facility or agency for a long period of time, and who take the best care of patients. That’s more than reason enough to make sure you’re tracking employee engagement. Here’s how...

Measuring employee engagement is a fairly simple process.

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Step 1: Survey Your Nurses and Staff

The best way to get answers is to ask questions. Communicating with your nurses about their satisfaction and engagement will help you understand your organization and just how well it's operating. Beyond that, it shows your employees that you value their feedback and in turn value them.

Sounds easy enough, but how exactly do you do it? What questions do you ask and what information do you look at in order to determine whether or not an employee is engaged?

Cortex has launched a specialized survey tool for surveying employees of Skilled Nursing Facilities (SNF’s), Home Health Agencies (HHA’s), and home care operators on their feelings about the company, the company’s culture, their role in the company, and more. After this data is collected, our team analyzes it into a manageable and actionable report to help you understand and improve your engagement levels and company culture.

Step 2: Make Changes that Improve Company Culture

Once you understand what your nurses are lacking in order to be engaged, you can start to make changes. While these changes will be unique to your business, there are a few proven winners such as establishing stellar on-boarding processes and mentorship programs for new nurses. More details in the next section.

Step 3: Reap the Benefits

Is tracking employee engagement really worth it? Definitely. Here are a few incredible benefits of having an engaged workforce.

Better Quality Patient Care

Engaged employees take better care of patients. According to an HR Solutions study, these employees are reported to display genuinely caring attitudes towards patients 85 percent of the time.

Reduced Turnover & Lower Operating Costs

The turnover situation in healthcare is at a critical level, especially among Skilled Nursing Facilities and Home Health Agencies. The American Health Care Association (AHCA) reported in 2012 annual caregiver turnover rates of 50 percent. In the home health care industry, turnover was at a staggering 82 percent as recently as 2018. In total, poor turnover rates are costing the long-term care industry $4.1 billion per year, based on information from the AHCA Cost of Turnover Calculator. That doesn’t take into consideration the loss of morale, productivity, and brain-drain that stem from high turnover.

Step 4: Get More Feedback

Tracking employee engagement isn’t a one-time deal. In order for it to be most effective, it needs to be done continuously. Create a schedule to gather feedback from employees, whether it be quarterly, semi-annually, or yearly. Use this as an opportunity not only to measure engagement but also to listen to concerns and provide feedback to employees on their performance. It’s an opportunity for both management and employees to learn what they are doing well and where they can improve. It’s worth noting too, that recognizing a job well done certainly contributes to high engagement levels.

Proven Ways to Improve Your SNF and HHA Culture

Wondering exactly how you can create a better company culture and increase employee engagement? Here are a few tried and tested methods.

1. Create a Stellar On-boarding Process

The first 90 days that a nurse or staff members joins your company are critical in forming their engagement, loyalty, and likelihood to stick around. Employee turnover is highest during the first 90 days of employment and this is especially important in industries with drastically high turnover rates like skilled nursing facilities and home health agencies. Good on-boarding processes often include mentorship programs and company culture events that get employees invested in the company and their coworkers.

2. Create a Mentorship Program

Mentorship programs empower your best employees, train your new employees, and help to form positive coworker relationships. All the good skills, attitudes, and best practices of your best employees are transferred to new hires. Your new employees gain from a great training program and your veteran employees are rewarded for their good work by becoming leaders.

3. Give Employees More Control Over Schedules

Scheduling in health care can be a nightmare. Long shifts at all hours create stress for managers and for employees. It can result in tired employees and burnout, which are definite detractors from engagement.

Of course, not everyone will be able to work the “best shifts.” But, having a conversation with your employees about which shifts they prefer can help them to feel empowered and have a greater sense of control, especially when you’re able to meet those requests.

4. Employee Development & Compensation Management

Growth is an important part of a successful career. Create opportunities for your employees to receive training, to gain more responsibility, and to increase their salary. Healthcare is a stressful industry to work in and in order for employees to be engaged, they need to feel that they are both being invested in and compensated for their worth.