How 2 execs are tackling a $9 trillion workforce challenge

Fostering a sense of engagement and loyalty among employees is among the top workforce issues on the minds of hospital and health system executives. They are taking various approaches to improve job satisfaction and workers' well-being.

"Quiet quitting" — referring to a phenomenon in which employees reduce their enthusiasm at work and stick to the minimum expectations of their role — went viral on social media in 2022. And associated movements, like "lazy girl jobs" and #ActYourWage, followed in reaction to increased dissatisfaction at work. Now, two years later, these feelings appear to still be showing up in the workplace. 

Internationally, 62% of employees report disengagement, meaning they are quietly quitting, according to Gallup's 2024 State of the Global Workplace report released June 12. The report, which covers more than 160 countries and is based on survey responses from 128,278 individuals, found another 15% report being actively disengaged at work, meaning those who actively oppose their employer's goals. Gallup estimates these sets of workers cost the global economy $8.9 trillion, or 9% of global GDP.

Becker's recently explored this issue with healthcare leaders and how they're addressing it. We asked: "How is your system addressing 'quiet quitting' and improving employee engagement?" 

Here's how they responded. 

Editor's note: Some responses were lightly edited for brevity and clarity. 

Melissa Ferraro. Senior Vice President of Human Resources for Allegheny Health Network (Pittsburgh): Allegheny Health Network has established numerous initiatives and programs to improve caregiver engagement, well-being and experience. It starts with regularly taking the temperature of our 22,000 employees — each year, they are asked to provide their feedback via our annual engagement survey as well as a mid-year "pulse check," both of which measure our caregiver experience. We know that providing the most satisfying, supportive and healthy environment for our caregivers is critical to assuring the best possible patient experience. As a network, we are committed to caregiver health and well-being. Our wellness survey, educational resources and programs are designed to mitigate not only clinician burnout, but burnout among all AHN employees, strengthening workforce morale.

We use the results of those surveys to address specific employee workplace needs and create action plans around engagement opportunities. By prioritizing actionable solutions, we have realized measurable results. We've seen a reduction in turnover, a significant improvement in burnout rates across most professions, and an observable cultural shift with increased trust in leadership, higher interprofessional civility, and a greater shared sense of accomplishment. As a result of our efforts, 90% of AHN employees reported feeling joy at work, and 80% reported feeling appreciated; we also saw a 41% reduction in RN turnover and 34% reduction in RN burnout.

Together with Highmark Health, we have embarked on a journey to be the catalyst in our region and nationally for innovative change that revolutionizes healthcare. Our strategy focuses heavily on our caregiver experience and ensuring we have input from all levels of the organization. This enables us to remain an employer of choice and a destination for practice.

Jeanine Miakotina. Benefit Manager - Health and Welfare, Well-being, and Recognition for Allina Health (Minneapolis): One way we're addressing that is through our new Well-being Navigation program. We know our employees feel overwhelmed and overworked. They want to focus on what's important to them. We're trying to re-engage them by ensuring they have what they need to feel well and take care of their families. This program, launched in March, addresses a common issue: our organization is resource-rich when it comes to mental health and well-being resources, but employees often don't know where to start or have the time to figure it out. Our navigation program allows employees to call a dedicated number where three employees can answer any questions related to well-being. They can also quickly connect with a mental health consultant, usually within 48 to 72 hours. This service helps with anything from nutritional advice to mental health support, ensuring employees can access resources without the hassle of searching for them themselves.

It's too early to see any engagement-related data yet. We have an engagement survey planned for later this year, so we don't have specific data on "quiet quitting" or improved engagement at this point. However, we have seen an increasing number of employees using the service and expressing gratitude for the support. Managers are also discussing it with their teams, and the feedback has been very positive so far.

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