Wikipedia’s definition of employee engagement states that “…an engaged employee is a person who is fully involved in, and enthusiastic about, his or her work.” During slow economic times, team members may be faced with more clients who cannot afford care. As a result employees may have difficulty staying upbeat and job performances may suffer. When employees are not engaged, job satisfaction, productivity, and client service can all decline.
The level of employee engagement is critically important in the delivery of veterinary medical care and client service. Partially engaged employees may not be accountable and may not be as efficient and productive as they could be if they were fully engaged. Disengaged employees don’t have the inclination or passion to cater to the needs of pet owners and often don’t work well with other employees.
Strategies to Improve Employee Engagement
Use the following strategies to help improve employee engagement resulting in greater job satisfaction, increased efficiency and productivity, and enhanced client service.
Provide a clear vision.
To be engaged, employees need to understand the vision and goals of the practice. Anchor the team to a vision so they understand how their role contributes to the success of the business. Use staff meetings to regularly create dialogue about the practice vision. Discuss how every employee can help achieve your vision and goals.
Focus on culture.
Developing a rewarding culture goes a long way towards improving employee engagement. Make sure team members feel valued. Recognize and reward superior job performance. Give employees praise about their job performance on a weekly basis at a minimum to reinforce desired behaviors. Build trust and respect with team members by keeping them informed. Even if you have to deliver bad news, employees appreciate accurate, timely information. Keep the lines of communication open between employees and the leadership team. Otherwise, the grapevine will take over which tends to reduce morale.
Establish feedback protocols.
Give staff regular, timely feedback which improves efficiency by reinforcing the job performance you want and discouraging behaviors you don’t want. Feedback helps you work better with your team because employees appreciate knowing how they are doing and how they can improve. Don’t forget to solicit feedback from staff as well which further assists in efforts to improve hospital operations. Address any employee concerns and strive to facilitate creative problem-solving.
Managers play an integral role in employee engagement. First and foremost, managers must be engaged themselves before they can be a driver to increase employee engagement in the practice. If managers are frustrated and unhappy about aspects of their job, they aren’t likely to be a positive influence on the rest of the team. Formulate a plan to increase managers’ engagement if they are not fully engaged.
Create employee developmental plans.
Employee developmental plans improve job satisfaction and employee engagement because they facilitate training and career development. If the hospital is slow, there is no excuse not to spend time on training and staff development. Tailor developmental plans for each team member. Set quarterly or monthly goals for employees to undergo training necessary to achieve new skills or proficiency levels.
The above strategies will improve morale for your team and help the practice reap the benefits of employee engagement. Engaged employees are committed to your business and happy in their jobs which translates to higher employee retention and productivity. Engaged team members help elevate the level of patient care and client service which also helps drive practice profitability.
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