Jim Eggers and I have recently been immersed in uncovering findings for our HealthStream National Benchmarking Study on Healthcare Employee Engagement. We analyzed responses from over 250,000 leaders, staff, and physicians. In my last HealthStream blog titled, “Making a Difference in Healthcare Employee Engagement,” I shared results relative to the stagnation of employee engagement (e.g., no positive or negative progression with national norms), disparities between leadership and staff engagement, and strategies to create engagement based on our key drivers. As we look at the dynamics of healthcare, it can ask one to question, “Does joy still matter today?”

To me, the question comes back to, “Do our patients and their loved ones deserve to encounter employees and providers who are engaged and find meaning (dare I say joy) in their work?” The answer is yes. To that end, my goal is to focus on sharing learnings from our study that will help leaders change the status quo.

We know from our research that:

  • Daytime employees are more engaged than night and evening employees with their organization. (3.26 vs 3.21 and 3.10 respectively)
  • The first six months is the peak of employee engagement. Engagement falls steeply over the first five years of employment.
  • Groups that experience the lowest intent to stay include nurses and millennials.

I had the chance to present our findings to more than 150 attendees on a recent Healthstream webinar. Our goal was to discuss how we can create employee joy based on what we learned during our benchmarking study. Interestingly, when I asked respondents to share barriers to creating joy, I received some of the following responses summarized by this word cloud. Additionally, some of the direct feedback included:

  • Workload, stress level, and reward (is the pay adequate for the amount of work)
  • Staff burnout, uneven workload, and communication
  • Being so busy that there is never any downtime, having a supervisor who doesn’t acknowledge anything positive that you do, not allowing staff to pursue their special interests (as appropriate within the organization)
  • Negative attitudes and being short staffed
  • Distrust, negativity, fear, and lack of engagement


Employee Barriers

Webinar Poll: What are barriers to creating joy?

To be quite candid, I was heartbroken to see these responses. Healthcare leaders, employees, and providers are some of the most talented and hardworking individuals. Their skillsets and compassion literally save lives every day.

After we discussed the barriers, I shared strategies to turn the tables and create more joy. After all, there is no denying we work hard in healthcare. There are good days and bad days. We have to be emotionally honest about the demands of our careers. Yet, there are steps that leaders and individuals can take to make a positive difference. To that end, I closed out the webinar by asking participants to share one step they can take to create more joy. While I was clearly saddened by the barriers, I was beyond encouraged to see the takeaways of participants.

Responses to ways to create more joy included:

  • Follow up – let employees know you are listening to them.  Show empathy especially during stressful times.
  • Conduct town hall meetings and focus on answering the whys. Senior leadership — presenting achievements and the how/why it makes a difference for the employees and patients.
  • Utilize the RELATE model with managers and encourage them to use it with their staff.  Provide senior rounding more often including all departments.
  • Positive feedback.  Staying positive in spite of circumstances.  Thanking the staff for what they do. 
  • Personal accountability for creating daily joy… Be the reason someone smiles today.  It’s about the relationship!
Creating Employee Joy

Webinar Poll: What is one step you can take to create more workplace joy?

Recognition, Communication, Listening, Rounding and R.E.L.A.T.E. (HealthStream’s people-centered communication model) are all budget neutral items. You can appreciate someone despite being short staffed. We can encourage each other and listen when we are having a personal bad day. Let’s take a stand together to make a positive difference for ourselves and our colleagues. I am confident we can cultivate these steps and remember that through each of our hands, every patient is counting on us to be our best and engaged.

Download a copy of our Benchmark Report: 2016 Employee Engagement in Healthcare here.