Ontario hospitals could be paying a big price for not engaging their employees.
A new study from the Ontario Hospital Association suggests that “the quality of the work environment for staff and physicians is a key determinant of a high-performing health care organization.”
Written by workplace consultant Dr. Graham Lowe, The Relationship Between Employee Engagement and Human Capital Performance notes that “engaged employees are committed to their employer, satisfied with their work, and willing to give extra effort to achieve the organization’s goals.”
The study looks at data from small, teaching and community hospitals. The data links information from two tools — NRC Picker employee surveys and PwC Saratoga HR benchmarking project.
The evidence would suggest engaged employees are less inclined to experience workplace stress, suffer from fewer patient-handling injuries, and be less inclined to seek employment elsewhere.
Looking at 16 hospitals, an average of 40.9 per cent of surveyed workers suggested that most days at work are quite/extremely stressful. However, hospitals that scored higher levels of employee engagement reduced that figure to 24.4 per cent. Hospitals with low levels of employee engagement shot up to 63.1 per cent, or more than six out of every ten employees.
Similarly, among the same group of hospitals, you were far more likely to be injured or feel unwell as a result of handling patients if your hospital had low employee engagement scores. Asking whether they had been injured or felt unwell within the last 12 months, more than one in three (35.8 per cent) said yes. That rose to every other person (50.1 per cent) in hospitals with low levels of engagement and was reduced to one in five (19.8 per cent) in hospitals with high levels of engagement.
Worker retention also improved with increased levels of engagement. Asked if they were likely to look for a new job in the next 12 months, about one in four (26.4 per cent) said yes. At hospitals with low levels of employee engagement, that rose to almost every other employee (47.9 per cent). At hospitals with high levels of engagement, that number was reduced to about one in ten (10.3 per cent).
The report specifically notes that the workplace reputation can have an impact on recruitment. If workers were unsatisfied, social networking can spread that message and make it more difficult for a hospital to recruit needed health professionals and support staff.
Hospitals are required by legislation to survey workers at least every two years. The Excellent Care for All Act specifically states the objective is to “collect information on the satisfaction of employees and other persons with their experience working for or providing services within the organization and to solicit views about the quality of care provided by the health care organization.” The OHA-NRC Picker Experience Surveys were specifically designed to meet this legislative requirement.