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Say 'I Do' to Employee Engagement

Last year, “employee engagement” was a buzzword that was on the mind of many human resources professionals. This year, HR professionals are referring to a broader “employee experience.” Call it what you want, the concept is the same: to create an inclusive, stimulating work environment that results in employees who are fully absorbed by and enthusiastic about their work.

In the long-term care industry, where burnout is often a job-related hazard, it's extremely important to make sure your employees feel in the loop, listened to, and valued. A strong sense of teamwork also can help boost both employee morale and engagement. While the employee experience starts with top management, the onus more than likely falls on department heads to create a positive work environment.

Of course, some top-level managers are eager to connect with their staff. Mordechai Finkel, Director of Human Resources at Greek American Rehabilitation & Care Centre, is a perfect example. He personally meets with every one of his 200-plus employees every two weeks to see how things are going. He said one of his goals is to ensure that everyone has a good sense of mission.

The role of technology

Granted, there is nothing like that human touch to help engage employees. But technology really can help. Given the preponderance of remote employees at multiple locations, and large organizations with hundreds or thousands of employees, technology can be a really wonderful tool for engaging and managing employees. The key to its success is that communication via technology must be a two-way street. Top-down-only communication just won't cut it.

Used correctly, however, technology-based communication can help to increase productivity and teamwork. You need to capture employees' attention wherever you can. Take the time clock, for instance. Employees clock in and out multiple times a day. If you can send personalized messages to your employees right from your time clock, that's a fantastic way for you to connect with them numerous times during the workday.

Mobile devices are a great way for you to reach employees wherever, whenever. In our increasingly mobile society, mobile communication is a must. Text messages are an easy way to communicate with all your employees. You can quickly fill open shifts by notifying staff via their mobile phones. As soon as staff members see the notification, they have the opportunity to grab that shift if they want to. It's a win-win. The ability to request PTO leave, see pay stubs and more, empowers employees and enhances the employee experience.

This goes hand in hand with retention. Keeping workers connected, especially remote staff, increases loyalty and retention. It's the disengaged and non-engaged employees who are out looking for jobs. According to Gallup's State of the American Workplace Report, disengaged employees are twice as likely to be looking for a new job or keeping an eye out for new opportunities. And, as we all know, it's costly to find and train and hire somebody new, not to mention the time that it takes away from productivity.

Don't Micro-Manage Your Frontline Staff

While it's wise to keep your finger on the pulse of frontline staff, you don't want to micro-manage them. After all, it's your frontline staff who actually deal day in and day out with residents.

You need to trust their professional judgment when it comes to resident care. If you second-guess their decisions, they will assume you don't trust them. However, if you give them reasonable autonomy, they will feel respected and empowered. Pairing autonomy with increased communication strikes the balance that will give you a more energized staff and improved resident care.

An effective employee experience strategy combines personal touch, constant communication, a degree of autonomy, and prudent use of technology. Engaged employees, in turn, will provide optimal patient care.

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