One of your untapped branding resources might be your own employees
As the long-term and post-acute care (LTPAC) sector moves into value-based models, organizations are looking for ways to differentiate themselves. Today, employees at all levels can play key roles in driving traffic to your website, encouraging customer engagement, and gaining the attention and loyalty of residents, families and staff.
“Brands are waking up to the impact activated employees can have on marketing goals,” says Michael Brenner, founder and CEO of Marketing Insider Group, in a blog. “Your employees are consumers. They are the human face of your company and so are more trustworthy in the eyes of your audience.”
So how do you engage and inspire employees to be active in the business culture without adding to their workloads? It may be easier than you think.
Walk the Walk
First things first: Establish your organization as socially engaged. You may want to start with staff satisfaction surveys to assess how engaged, happy, and open your employees are. The more engaged staff are, the more likely they are to feel ownership within the organization and work with management to promote successes and serve as advocates in the community, Brenner notes.
Tools are available to assess staff engagement, including pulse surveys and mobile apps that let employees see each other’s comments and responses. Some of these next generation tools can be used to capture feelings, trends, social engagement, and other information in real time. Some organizations have found success with more traditional tools such as the Press Ganey assessments.
Create opportunities for internal conversations with LinkedIn or Facebook groups online and live events that bring people together to share ideas, news, and information. Get everyone on the same page regarding your organization’s missions and values as well as any new developments and changes. While encouraging social media postings, ensure that all employees are properly trained in the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) guidelines for appropriate use of resident images and other regulations protecting residents’ privacy.
Consider an avenue for employees to share their stories internally. For example, have a monthly story contest with a small prize (i.e., gift card, free lunch) where employees can share on different themes such as a resident who touched their lives, a co-worker who served as a mentor, or life lessons learned from a resident. Even better, try a problem-solving workshop to encourage employees to share their experiences with a job challenge and how they solve them.
Bridge Employee Communication Gaps
It’s not enough to put communication networks in place. It’s important to identify where communication is flowing and where there are gaps and blockages. Consider:
- What platforms are used for communicating internally with employees?
- Do you have employee newsletters? Does anyone read them?
- Does everyone have a company email address? If not, how do you communicate with them?
- How do employees access and use your website? What content do they access most frequently? What content do they need or want but can’t find?
- Do you make efforts to include part-time workers in the organization’s culture?
Doing a little detective work can identify strengths, gaps, and barriers. However, depending on what you uncover, you may need to narrow down communication channels to one or two. It is essential to make sure employees know how to use these. Make sure you track how employees are using communication channels, what information they are accessing and sharing, and what information they want that isn’t readily available.
Engage, Engage, Engage
Just as care in your organization should be person-centered, your staff engagement also should be focused on the individuals:
- Get to know employees. Find out from each individual what information he or she needs to achieve quality performance. Knowing what an employee values also can help organizations succeed in implementing innovative programs, including non-traditional benefits and incentives, smarter shift scheduling, and the support of continuing education.
- Involve employees in the organization’s successes. Celebrate successes, such as excellent scores on site surveys, improvements in CMS star ratings and reductions in infection rates following a new antibiotic stewardship program.
- Recognize employees who contribute positively with small prizes or awards. Have a monthly organizational trivia contest with questions regarding topics covered in emails, newsletters, and new content on the website.
- Employees are more likely to remain motivated if they believe their employer wants them to excel. Offer opportunities for professional development via training activities, certification courses and mentoring.
- Encourage employees to submit innovative projects to association competitions and as conference-presentation opportunities.
- Encourage managers to be accessible to staff. They should communicate news and information with their teams and seek feedback from them.
People who feel socially engaged at work are more connected to each other, inspired and optimistic about their company’s future—and 20 percent more likely to stay, Brenner notes. Making employee engagement part of your organization’s culture can drive results through a workforce that is dedicated, enthusiastic, and focused on quality.