3 questions that will change the way you talk about employee engagement survey results

A common lament I hear from healthcare leaders nationwide is that they just don't have time to focus on employee engagement.

Especially when the engagement survey results arrive and the pressure is on to improve. Yes, everyone knows that engagement is important but there are too many other squeaky wheels and fires to put out and the "nice to have" elements of engagement get lost in the shuffle.

The Problem
Now, let's imagine that your engagement survey results are in. You're now in the Action Planning stage and as a leader, it's up to you to get your team engaged in talking about engagement. The first thing to remember is that employees don't care about "engagement". It's a management word that actually showed on an Accountemps survey which asked "What is the most annoying or overused phrase or buzzword in the workplace today?"

I'm not saying that employees don't want to be engaged in their work. The majority of them do. They want to be satisfied, energized & productive and more importantly they want to make a difference. Here's the rub. When you have that team meeting to share the results from the survey and create the Action Plan, the knee-jerk response of employees is to look for external things to improve their engagement and the workplace. That's not sustainable over time.

The Questions
Here are 3 questions to ask related to the areas that you did well on and the areas that need improvement when you have your Action Plan meeting. You might be surprised that we are starting with the areas with high scores because those are usually glossed over. Don't miss this opportunity to find out what's working so you can learn specifically what is making it work – and do more of that.

Please note that you'll get many more productive thoughts if you divide your team into small groups of 3-4 people for the discussion. That way everyone has a chance to have their voice heard and the negative folks don't take over. After you ask each question, let people brainstorm and have a scribe take notes. Then, you can debrief the ideas with the larger group. Even if you only have 6-8 people, you can still do this.

Questions for areas that you score well on:
1) What is the organization doing that makes this work?
2) What am I (your leader) doing day-to-day that makes it work?
3) What are you personally doing that makes it work?

Questions for areas that need improvement:
1) What does the organization need to do at a big picture level to improve this?
2) What do I need to do (as your leader) to create improvement?
3) What do you need to do personally to make this better?

It Takes 3
You'll notice a pattern here. It's called shared responsibility and it's the key to improvement. You can't possibly do everything that's needed to improve and sustain engagement. I call it the It Takes 3™ model and you can read more about it here (https://www.beckershospitalreview.com/human-capital-and-risk/3-must-haves-for-sustainable-employee-engagement.html).

It's time to break free from your old methods of Action Planning and move forward to empowering employees to own their own engagement. Anything less...AKA trying to do everything FOR employees...is not going to work in the long run. And the great news is that everyone "wins" when employees are more engaged – you, your customers, their coworkers – but the person who benefits the most is the employee him or herself. Now is the time to take a deep breath and let go of being the boss of engagement and have some fun sharing the job with your team.

Vicki Hess, RN, is your go-to resource for transforming employee engagement at the individual, department or organization-wide level. As the author of four books, Certified Speaking Professional (CSP), trainer and consultant; Vicki inspires healthcare leaders to take action in a real-world, relatable way. Organizations that implement Vicki's ideas experience increased engagement, productivity, safety, quality, retention, patient satisfaction, creativity and more. Access Vicki's free tools and resources when you visit www.HealthcareEmployeeEngagement.com.

The views, opinions and positions expressed within these guest posts are those of the author alone and do not represent those of Becker's Hospital Review/Becker's Healthcare. The accuracy, completeness and validity of any statements made within this article are not guaranteed. We accept no liability for any errors, omissions or representations. The copyright of this content belongs to the author and any liability with regards to infringement of intellectual property rights remains with them.​

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