Measuring Employee Engagement

Employee engagement is one of those buzzwords we love to use but have a difficult time defining. When we talk about employee engagement we are referring to our employees’ commitment toward our organization, and more importantly to our patients. There are a variety of ways to measure employee engagement; through surveys, through discussions with current employees, or simply through the judgment of leadership. One thing for certain the more engaged our employees are the better patient care they will deliver.

One of the benefits of patient satisfaction surveys is having an objective tool to measure engagement.  When the surveys are conducted by an outsider the information is unbiased and scientifically accurate. It’s safe to assume that when employees are disengaged one of the first things to suffer are the soft skills needed for effective patient interactions. When we see patient satisfaction survey results come back and scores drop, one thing we have to evaluate is the engagement of our employees. Evaluating aggregate data for the whole company helps to identify broad issues and identify possible areas for improvement. Using this patient satisfaction data we should consider companywide problems, such as a recent schedule change or a perceived lack of management responsiveness, as the culprit for low engagement and thus low patient satisfaction scores.

A single data point is not informative and should never be used as the basis for decision-making, we must track patient satisfaction survey results over time to identify issues company wide.  Tracking results overtime allows management to identify trends and focus on weaknesses.  By drilling down into the data it is possible to determine the exact cause of low scores, be it by day of the week, level of service (ALS v. BLS), or emergency versus transport.  Resources can then be committed to fix any issues at their core.

Patient satisfaction results can also be used to compare employees.  Using comparative data allows management to determine the high and low performers, and identify those employees whom are disengaged, and those who are fully engaged.

The low performers can be coached up, or moved out.   Ideally we want to reengage them and get them active in the organization, which can help improve the morale of all the crews.  Spending some time with these individuals, talking with them, and seeing what their experiences have been can show them that somebody in the organization is invested in their success. Perhaps involve them in a new project or ask them what they’d like to see change in the organization and let them lead that initiative. However, if low performers can’t be reengaged it is important to move on from them, because we all know just a couple of bad apples out in the field can ruin the reputation of the entire organization.

High performers should be publically rewarded and recognized to positively reinforce their level of engagement.  Management should also have discussions with these high performers to learn what lessons can be harvested for use companywide.

Employee engagement has been defined as many different things, regardless of how you define or evaluate employee engagement, without the proper tool to measure it there’s nothing you can do to improve it.

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