Workplace culture is key to employee retention

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Workplace culture can make or break medical practices. According to OC Tanner, a Salt Lake City, Utah-based firm specializing in research and education on workplace culture and the employee experience, those with good work cultures can attract and retain talent, mobilize innovation and cultivate strong leaders.

The company uses university-level research published in its annual World Culture Report to track, analyze and forecast global cultural trends. “We found that cultural factors are critically important to employee retention, regardless of generation,” said Alexander Lovell, PhD, director of research and data science at OC Tanner. “Employees want to work for an organization, whether large or small, that fulfills its purpose, provides opportunity, makes them feel successful, shows they are valued, encourages all dimensions of well-being, and contains great leaders.”

Current data suggests that people want to work and do business with organizations with well-defined cultures more than ever. One area that often isn’t highlighted enough is the culture of medical practice and whether leadership matches it, Dr. Lovell said. “Besides basic compensation and benefits, workplace culture and employee experience are 2 factors determining employee satisfaction,” he said. “When each of these elements is integrated, employees are 438% less likely to say they are ready to leave their organization.”


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Workplace culture and employee experience can determine whether an employee considers leaving a medical practice. A medical practice may have an amazing culture, but if employees are struggling to meet their daily needs, it will be difficult to retain staff. Additionally, it can be helpful to pay employees in the higher market, but it can still be difficult to retain employees in the current market if they are struggling to meet day-to-day demands. “Authentic, focused, and meaningful recognition can help elevate every aspect of culture,” Dr. Lovell said. “Recognition is different from incentives, in that it’s less about getting the job done, and more about acknowledging how an employee did the job.”

The important role of appreciation

Highlighting the uniqueness of each staff member can create a better outcome. Recognition from a leader or peer indicates that the employee has been seen, is valued and appreciated. “It’s powerful, especially when it comes to retention,” Lovell said. Today’s healthcare landscape presents a new opportunity for leaders and employees to leverage a sense of urgency and make meaningful improvements to their cultures. In its latest Global Culture Report, OC Tanner examined how outdated and disconnected technologies, programs, strategies and leadership philosophies can hinder individual and organizational performance.

The report highlights how the haphazard implementation of technology can lead to a tangle of tools and processes detrimental to efficiency and employee satisfaction. Moreover, outdated and impersonal recognition programs do not achieve the desired effect on experience and culture. A synthesis of several research studies involving more than 38,000 employees and managers from 20 countries around the world served as the basis for the report. The analysis demonstrated that work can no longer be a tolerable drudgery and must instead provide inspiring, challenging and rewarding experiences for all employees.

Workers want to feel valued

Simply showing appreciation may not be enough. Timing and delivery matter too. Appreciation should be personal and meaningful, said Mark Linzer, MD, vice chairman of the Department of Medicine and director of the Institute for Professional Working Life, Hennepin Healthcare, Minneapolis, Minnesota.

He and his colleagues studied COVID-related stress and coping mechanisms among American healthcare workers. They examined intention to reduce work hours and intention to leave among 20,665 diverse healthcare workers. Among 9,266 physicians, 24% were moderately or more likely to intend to leave in 2 years. Of 2,302 nurses, 40% intended to leave. Among advanced practice physicians, nurses and clinicians, feeling valued by one’s organization was associated with significantly lower intention to leave, investigators reported in Mayo Clinic Proceedings Innovation, Quality and Results. “So addressing burnout, fear, mental health issues, and overwork, as well as making workers feel valued, would all be mechanisms to try to reduce intentions to leave the practice. and promote worker retention,” said Dr. Linzer, professor of medicine at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis.

Brian R. Carlson, vice president of patient experience for Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee, said small things can make a big difference, like knowing everyone’s name and greeting them every day. by their name. He advocates making sure that employees have the tools they need to do their jobs and that their job expectations are clear and understandable.

“Another point is that if people have to work in a bad process and then be blamed for the bad process, they will become more frustrated. Look at your work processes and assess whether they are efficient and effective for everyone involved,” Carlson said.

It’s important to find out what kinds of appreciation employees appreciate because everyone is different. For example, some people want to be liked by the public, but others would rather not be singled out. He said it’s best not to use appreciation to create favorites. Being fair and transparent in the distribution of your appreciation is essential. Carlson said to try to find something to appreciate in everyone who works for medical practice. “Don’t assume that money is the appreciation everyone wants. People want to feel valued and respected and to be part of something bigger than themselves.

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