Culture & Leadership | Staff & Provider Engagement | Global Perspective | Supporting the Workforce

The Role of Leaders in Improving Staff Experience

Jessica Howe
Patient Experience Specialist
Story County Medical Center – South Campus

As leaders, we have the responsibility to support, empower, and engage our employees in a way that keeps them motivated and encourages them to provide the greatest quality of care every single day.  

It is no doubt to anyone who has stepped foot in a healthcare setting recently that the system has been under overwhelming pressure. A simple Google search for the word “healthcare” will quickly expose the reality that our industry is struggling to recover from the crisis of the last few years. Patients, family members, and caregivers face frustration with the quality of care they receive, their inability to receive necessary care in a timely manner, and feeling like they are being seen as a patient rather than an individual with a unique story.  

Adversity always comes with the opportunity for improvement. It is vital that we see these challenges as opportunities for growth and focus our energy on ways we can connect with our staff. We must remain steadfast as leaders in our attempts to care for the needs of our employees and stay alert to their mental health and well-being. In doing so, we can promote a culture that aligns with the overall goals and vision of our organizations. When employees feel happy and supported by their leaders, they will be energized to come to work and will feel an overall sense of satisfaction within their organization.  

Often times we view this task as one that is overwhelming and impossible. We may feel restricted by budgets, schedules, and other commitments. In the same way that the foundation of a building is crucial to the stability of its structure, supporting our staff is critical to their overall sense of satisfaction within the organization.  

Through conversations with colleagues, it didn’t take long for me to understand that staff members aren’t asking for grand gestures to feel appreciated. A simple comment such as “I really like what you are doing, continue the great work.” Or, “You are making a positive change in the lives of your patients.” Acknowledging your staff in passing by, making eye contact and saying a simple “hello,” checking in consistently and asking them how they are feeling and how their day is going. If you recognize that a team member is struggling, ask if there is anything you can do to help. If you see a need, look for a way to meet that need. 

Praise your staff members for their achievements. A simple card that expresses gratitude can boost confidence and provide the encouragement that is needed to get through the rest of the day. Empower team members by trusting them to take ownership of various tasks and assignments. These small acts of kindness can go a long way in boosting morale across the organization. Showing our employees that you value and appreciate them will result in individuals who are more likely to go above and beyond and hold themselves accountable for their efforts.  

Let us not neglect the importance of connecting with our employees. We must take time to engage if we want to build a dedicated, long-term team and boost the overall sense of happiness within the organization. An employee wants to be seen as a person with a unique set of gifts. Let’s be leaders who embody commitment, support, and encouragement each day.  

Jessica Howe is the Patient Experience Specialist at Story County Medical Center – South Campus. With over ten years of experience working in various healthcare settings, Jessica currently serves as the council chair for the Patient and Family Advisory Council and is part of the employee engagement committee and the nurse council leadership group. She is passionate about evaluating patient feedback and identifying barriers to our success. Her role allows her to collaborate with hospital leaders to develop and implement improvements to achieve patient experience goals. Jessica shared, “I love coming to work each day knowing that I have the opportunity to play a small part in ensuring that our patients have the best experience every time they visit our facility.” 

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