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Using ‘MAGIC’ to improve employee engagement


Actually, it’s not magic. It’s helping your employees feel connected to their work, understanding their contributions to the bigger picture, and nurturing their continued growth.

magic, employee engagement, management, employees, managers, healthcare


Employees who are engaged in their work are more productive, happier, and better at their jobs. But ensuring your employees are engaged takes effort. Do you know how connected your employees are to their work? Do they feel like they are an integral part of your organization? Are they striving to help you accomplish your mission and goals? Are they growing and progressing in their careers? If you don’t already know the answers, asking the questions may be your first step in creating a more engaged team.

To better understand employee engagement, our executive group recently read the book MAGIC: Five Keys to Unlock the Power of Employee Engagement by Tracy Maylett, Ed.D., and Paul Warner, Ph.D. It was a great refresher on an issue that perennially plagues healthcare providers. The book outlines five ways to create real employee engagement:

  • Meaning

  • Autonomy

  • Growth

  • Impact

  • Connection


Maylett and Warner describe meaning as when “your work has purpose beyond the work itself.” This is an area where healthcare has a real advantage. The work you and your employees do every day is meant to restore health, cure diseases, mend broken bones, or help patients in countless other ways.

How often are you reminded of this purpose or the meaning of your work? As a leader, it is up to you to remind your employees what their work means-and not just those involved directly with patient care. The person who answers your phones or cleans your exam rooms is just as integral to the patient experience as the providers who are treating them. Make sure everybody knows the important role they play.


Autonomy doesn’t mean employees work independently or have total control over their job. It means employees have the ability to “shape your work and environment in ways that allow you to perform at your best.”

It’s important to note that peak performance is a focus on getting things done, not fretting about how they get done. This may mean allowing an employee to leave early to attend a child’s sporting event, knowing he/she will make up the time later getting caught up on his/her charts. It could also mean allowing the front desk staff to collectively determine the best scheduling software to use rather than making the decision based on what works best for you or the supervisor.


Growth is not just getting a promotion or starting a new job. Growth is extending yourself and getting better at what you do. This could take the form of cross-training employees to learn new skills, mentoring new employees, or letting someone lead a committee. Growth is anything that helps employees feel they are being challenged in ways that lead to professional progress, which ultimately improves employee engagement.


Impact is closely related to meaning and is defined as “effecting something greatly.” The authors acknowledge “[i]t’s extremely difficult to find meaning in one’s work…without having a clear sense of how that work affects the outside world.” Helping employees know their impact on the work they do for their workplace, their co-workers, or their patients is key to keeping them engaged.

Knowing they helped a patient manage his/her diabetes, schedule or reschedule a procedure during a stressful time, or participate in the birth of a baby are all ways that they can have a major impact on patients’ lives. Employees can feel their work makes an impact when they help their co-workers grow, make process improvements, and provide for their families.


The final key is connection, which the authors define as a “sense of belonging to something beyond yourself.” This is when employees start feeling less like a team and more like a family. When connections are made, employees are motivated to work toward the mission of the organization because they feel they’re an important part of it. When employees and teams are connected, they start referring to your organization as “we” instead of “they.”

It’s important to note that you don’t need all of the engagement keys in place to have an engaged workplace-and you don’t need to implement them all at once.

More than a decade ago, my own organization was facing high turnover rates and low employee engagement. Before we could make any changes, we needed to start listening to our employees. We needed to find out why they were leaving and fix the business practices that were keeping them from being engaged.

Using tools similar to those outlined in MAGIC, we started focusing on engagement and leading with our company’s core values. Now, our turnover rate is one of the lowest in our industry, and our employee engagement scores are regularly above 90 percent. This didn’t happen overnight. It happened because we were willing to change.

If your practice or your organization is facing similar issues, it might be time to step back and see what you can do to add some magic to your employees’ lives.

Lisa Grabl is president of CompHealth, the nation’s largest provider of locum tenens physicians and founder of the traveling physician industry. Lisa joined CompHealth in 2001 as a sales consultant and excelled in a variety of management roles prior to being named president in 2017. Lisa is passionate about building lasting relationships and helping her team members reach their highest potential.

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