Workplace culture can make or break a business. Numerous books and research have shown a great work culture can lead to improved employee engagement.
Employee engagement impacts retention, productivity and the way your teams treat your customers, in this case, your patients. A happy staff member will go above and beyond for patients, flag potential issues early and always be looking to innovate and make the practice better.
We’ve all heard about the amazing workplace cultures at places like Google, Netflix and Apple. Giants like Google have the budget to provide great perks but if you ask any expert, they will tell you that extravagant perks are not necessary for building a healthy and high-performing work culture. You can create an amazing work culture in your medical practice without a huge budget or culture officer. Consider these 5 steps to building a great practice culture:
1. Define Your Purpose
Defining your practice’s purpose or mission and outlining your values goes a long way towards creating a strong work culture. You need a shared purpose for people to know where you want to go as a medical practice. More importantly, linking your purpose to an individual staff member and the role they fulfill makes a huge impact on employee engagement levels.
Working in the medical field makes creating a company purpose easier since the work you do is inherently impactful. But as you know, each medical practice has its own identity and can benefit from a specific purpose. As a team, define what your medical practice’s specific purpose is.
2. Recruit With Care
Take the time and effort to hire the right people to fit your team, purpose and culture. Make sure you hire people who align to your values. Also be self-aware of any biases you have. A hiring manager might make decisions based on first impressions, which isn’t always the best strategy. If you are aware of your biases, you can put systems in place to overcome them such as including someone else in the interview process. You can also train yourself not to judge a candidate within the first 10 minutes of an interview. The right people are crucial to your success, they are also the largest expense for your practice.
3. Create Operational Rhythm and Internal Communication
A consistent cadence of meetings and communication flow is vital. Hold frequent meetings with your team. Your employees care about how the practice is doing and hearing feedback from patients and about their performance will mean a lot to them. A weekly meeting also gives your employees an opportunity to give you feedback, ask questions and talk about any concerns they may have. You can also encourage ideas on improving processes or talk about the patient experience. It’s just as important to ensure employees are getting one-on-one time with their supervisors. Research shows the number one reason people leave companies is due to their manager. Schedule the regular catch-ups with your staff can ensure you provide meaningful positive feedback to your employees and give them a forum to air any questions or concerns.
4. Ask For Feedback
The best way to understand where you can drive engagement and where cultural improvements are needed is to ask. You can use a simple survey through Google Documents to ask an open question about what can be done to improve the culture and employee experience at your practice. Make sure you communicate the results and any action plans put in place. Be transparent about anything you can’t take action on and explain why. For example, if a request is to provide daily lunch, you may communicate that this is too expensive for a small business however you can ensure your kitchen has the right facilities for people to bring their lunch and eat it comfortably.
5. Generate Rewards & Recognition
Celebrate and reward success. Recognition reinforces great behavior and celebrating wins is essential to team building. Instilling recognition and encouraging celebration in your practice will help everyone understand your purpose and the milestones you are making.. A celebration, for example, might be meeting a patient satisfaction score. Individual celebrations such as birthdays and work anniversaries are also great to acknowledge as they add to employee engagement and culture. Any personal celebration such as an engagement or pregnancy is also important to acknowledge. Small things like saying thank you at the end of the day can also make a big difference lead to the creation of a positive environment. Appreciation goes a long way, especially if someone has had a negative experience with a patient that day.
Overall, a cultivating great culture and positive change will start with strong leadership. Communicate what areas need improving and outline what action you intend to take. Most importantly, walk the talk! If people see that you are not behaving the way you expect others to change will never occur.