Three ways to increase employee engagement in a remote workplace

April 16, 2020

How to ensure your staff remain energized during unprecedented times. 

Engaged employees are passionate about their work and committed to the practice and the physician(s). An engaged staff leads to happy patients. And while it’s always been important under “normal” conditions, engaging employees is even more crucial during this unprecedented time where offices are mostly closed and many staff are working remotely. But how does a leader engage under these unusual circumstances?

In the book The Truth About Employee Engagement, author Patrick Lencioni posits that all employees need three things:

1.    To be known by their manager

2.    To know that their job matters to someone, in some way

3.    To know whether they are doing their job well

Though our workspaces and processes have changed due to stay-at-home orders, these three concepts still hold true. As leaders, we just need to adapt how we address them.

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Frequently Connect with Employees

Humans have an underlying need to be understood and appreciated by those who are leading them. Lencioni states that an employee’s relationship with their direct manager is the most important determinant to employee satisfaction, more than pay, benefits, perks and work-life balance.

This means that though we must be physically distanced, it is a mistake to be socially distanced. Now more than ever, staff want to hear from their manager(s) and/or physician(s). 

By now, we’re all becoming pros at video conferencing platforms such as Zoom, GoToMeeting, Skype, and Microsoft Teams. Commit to regular team meetings to stay in touch and keep everyone updated.

In addition to virtual team gatherings, make the time to call and check-in with staff individually. A personal phone call to address questions or concerns or just to say hello keeps staff feeling connected and important.

 

Explain the Importance of Their Interim Job Duties

Whether our job is to manage the complicated financials of a large multi-specialty practice or answer the phone and schedule appointments, we all want to know that our job matters to someone. And when roles and responsibilities have shifted due to the current conditions, it’s even more important to draw the connection between the work being done and who it impacts.

Many practices are using this opportunity to catch up on to-do list items that they just never could get to. One practice is creating detailed step-by-step guides to performing each essential task in the office. For example, one of the front office employees is writing out the steps for registering a new patient and scheduling an appointment. The practice recognizes the importance of creating or updating their written processes, and now staff have time to work on it without much interruption.

Yet some staff may not be energized to complete a task they may perceive as tedious or even unnecessary. Leaders must connect for them the assignment to the why, explaining that written standard processes equips the practice to provide excellent patient care. Get creative about highlighting how their new work is still meaningful and impactful.

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Give Feedback

Regular feedback in any setting is a crucial component of employee engagement. And, engaged employees want to know that they are doing a good job. As employee responsibilities have shifted, so has the criteria for measuring performance. 

Be clear about how employee performance will be measured during this unusual time rife with uncertainty. Setting clear and specific goals, measuring progress, and providing feedback keeps employees engaged and energized.

Though new workflows are forcing leaders to adapt and find new ways to motivate and encourage their teams, staying connected and focusing on the health of the team will better equip you to come back stronger than ever.

Amy Anderson, MBA is a consultant with KarenZupko & Associates, Inc. who advises physicians on practice management and revenue cycle. Amy is a former physician practice administrator.