Productivity, profit, and patient care and figuring out how to improve these three “Ps” represents the password to success for healthcare organizations. Yet while this mantra may sound simple, many healthcare organizations struggle with particularly low levels of employee engagement.

A recent Global Workforce Study from Towers Watson emphasized that two-thirds of the healthcare employees surveyed around the world are not highly engaged, and this disappointing percentage has stayed fairly steady over the years of the study. Not surprisingly, the report notes that this number “is far lower than optimal”—especially when you consider that healthcare is an industry whose mission is to serve the public, and as such requires extensive energy and dedication when it comes to patient welfare.

Towers Watson also notes that nearly half (42 percent) of healthcare workers feel “enrolled” in their work (partially engaged) rather than fully engaged in it. What’s more, around a quarter of the sample was disengaged, which indicates feeling disenchanted and disconnected rationally, motivationally, and emotionally. The situation also appears to be worsening, as the research discovered a decline in how many healthcare workers indicated their willingness to “put in a great deal of effort” compared with previous years studied.

Rules of Engagement

Given these dismal realities — particularly in light of the potential dire consequences for patients of a health worker who is disengaged — it becomes clear why it is critical for the healthcare industry to construct a business case for building employee engagement. The main point to be aware of in building such a business case is the fact that higher engagement leads to better business. In one study, Dale Carnegie research showed that companies with engaged employees outperform those without high levels of engagement by 202 percent.

In order to know how to best fix the problem, the first step is to understand why health workers become disengaged so frequently. There are several reasons for this, many of which trace back to the fact that successful engagement relies on employers and employees having convenient and reliable ways to communicate between one another. When patient safety is considered, the stakes of having this two-way communication available may be even higher in healthcare than in other industries.

One major factor that leads to disengagement in the healthcare industry is that an increasing number of employees work outside of traditional hospital or healthcare organization settings. Because of this, many health workers are considered “non-desk employees” or NDEs who deliver services at the point of care in the field, for example via home-based care.

Staying in the Loop

With much of the healthcare workforce working offsite, major communication challenges can arise between workers in the company’s distributed network, since field workers often can’t access the company communication systems. While telecommuting need not lead to people feeling out-of-the-loop, many health-related businesses have yet to institute a reliable systematic approach that facilitates two-way communication with their remote staff, and lack of this platform can hurt engagement.

Given these industry-specific obstacles, how can healthcare organizations tackle the tall order of increasing companywide engagement levels? The answer lies in taking a completely new approach, one based on mobile technology. Behind this change in strategy is the fact that HR professionals, senior-level managers, and all internal communicators in healthcare organizations need a platform to help them transition from being talent experts, to becoming employee experience facilitators. Technology is the key to simplifying this shift.

Connecting Communities

Mobile engagement platforms are designed with the user in mind and can quickly configure to a personalized look and feel. This helps them to become “sticky” for healthcare employees, delivering critical information, employee recognition, and company news — content that they need and want to consume regularly. Mobile-enabled apps additionally provide users with the ability to share, discuss, and interact with this information while connecting and working with their defined communities within their healthcare organization.

Mobile-enabled technology facilitates adoption by healthcare staff through creating an engaging user experience, and a strong perceived utility that the platforms and applications being utilized truly support health workers getting their difficult jobs done faster and smarter, with greater efficiency and convenience. Technology platforms also can help health organizations effectively measure employee engagement within hospitals and other healthcare settings, so that companies can use this information to make cultural shifts toward improving engagement across the entire organization. This means that healthcare companies need not rely on guesswork and incomplete solutions to try to piece together engagement data and metrics.

With the help of mobile engagement technology, healthcare organizations can increase engagement by creating reliable two-way communication that reaches the entire organization’s workforce, including NDEs. Using a mobile platform, HR and senior management can stay in touch with healthcare staff no matter where they work, and can also accurately measure and analyze workforce engagement. In short, mobile offers a single-point solution that encompasses the healthcare industry’s plethora of specific needs to help transform how they reach, communicate, and engage with their workers.

About the Author

Geraldine Osman is Vice President of Marketing at StaffConnect. Osman has more than 20 years global marketing leadership experience in the technology sector, transforming companies like Barracuda Networks and Nexsan into recognized, worldwide brands and growing early stage start-ups into market-leading, successful companies.