When imagining an ideal workplace, most people would list having the right “culture” toward the top of their list. People want to work somewhere they enjoy and gives them a sense of fulfillment. Culture is a topic that has been emphasized in recent years as leading organizations have realized that having the right people in the right places is their most valuable resource. Making smart hiring decisions and placing individuals in roles in which they will succeed drives a strong culture and sees a greater return on investment.
In healthcare, having a thriving, positive culture is noteworthy considering the constantly evolving nature of the industry. Since many people are more comfortable living in the known, significant change is often not an easy pill to swallow. For provider organizations, change is nearly constant as new policies and procedures are enacted to improve the quality and efficiency of patient care. On the one hand, providers are willing to completely overhaul processes and step outside of their comfort zones if it means better care for the patient. However, when it comes to a practice improvement that affects the staff members who deliver that patient care, adopting new strategies can be a slow process. When attempting to change daily habits, many people desperately try to hold onto what they know, resisting change even if it will reap positive benefits.
So how does workplace culture play into significant organizational change? Culture and employee morale has a tremendous impact on how well changes are received and implemented. Employees who are bought into an organization’s vision and actively engaged are far more willing to adopt change and do their part to follow through on the initiative. This positively impacts the project ROI by increasing the likelihood of meeting objectives on time and on budget.
Building a positive, results-driven culture doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a slow process that can take months or even years depending on the current state of the organization. It takes a significant cultural shift to combat change-resistant mindsets and obtain the buy-in of staff to effectively transform a process. Employees should feel connected to the initiative and see the payoff of their participation.
There are a couple action items that should be done to effectively align staff with organizational initiatives.
The first is clear communication of the objective and how it will be implemented from leaders to their staff at all levels of the organization. Being the last to know about a process change that directly involves your daily work and feeling like you have no voice in the matter can quickly drive down morale. This leads to disengagement and can throw the project initiative off track. An organization that clearly and concisely relates their organizational goals and encourages staff to be accountable to do their part to drive the change results in greater buy-in and successful implementation.
Once employees understand the organization’s objective and their role in the process, an executive champion should pave the way by helping focus staff members’ energy into positive outcomes. This leader effectively coaches staff to align actions in support of organizational decisions, and encourages personal accountability of employees to fulfill their responsibilities of the new process. These champions should be a guiding light for staff members during a time of transition. The best leaders genuinely care about their employees, and they make connections to them on an individual, personal level. These relationships go a long way when inspiring a culture that positively responds to organizational change.
All change requires new habits. Monitoring for those habits will keep an organization’s initiative and ROI on course. Action is the key element that sets apart organizations that realize full ROI from implementing changes and new directions, and those that do not. Education, communication, and sound change management processes will assist in that effort, but only aligned action in support of organizational decisions will deliver on the full ROI expected from any given project. Investing time and energy into building and maintaining a results-driven culture that has a shared mission will continue to reap benefits in the future and uphold staff satisfaction as a priority.