Due to the demands of delivering quality care, healthcare organization’s front offices can often feel like pressure cookers. Your admin staff are often in the position of juggling the needs of your office with the needs and expectations of your patients. Throw in unexpected problems and workflow disruptions, and it’s easy to see how stressful and crazy things can get in a hurry. But continually high levels of stress over time overwhelm your employees and sap employee morale. How your practice management responds to these obstacles and seeks to help your staff succeed as a team and individually defines, in large part, your practice’s workplace culture.
Is your practice flexible and able to adapt to the changing needs of your patients and your staff? Or does your practice continue to do things the same way you’ve always done things because they seem to work? When you encounter a problem or roadblock, how do you go about problem-solving, and to what extent do you involve your staff in the process? Are there easy and accessible ways for staff members to share honest feedback? The way you answer these questions can say a lot about not only your workplace culture but also the current health status of employee morale.
Let’s examine some common causes for low employee morale, the benefits to your practice of boosting morale, and how your practice can profit from building a positive culture. By encouraging and promoting efforts to help your individual admin team members gain greater job satisfaction and succeed, your practice will become more productive and profitable.
What are common causes for low team morale?
Low employee morale can result from several factors that impact your frontline office staff. These include:
- Ineffective communication,
- Lack of growth opportunities,
- Internal changes,
- Poor leadership,
- Insufficient recognition,
- Unhealthy work-life balance
That’s why it’s critical that you take active steps to resolve or minimize these by creating workplace culture change that provides incentives and the right conditions for your admin team to thrive. That’s because low morale isn’t just a downer for your employees—it can also hamper the operational excellence of your practice. Studies show that happy employees are 13% more productive.
What are the benefits of strong employee morale at your practice?
Your improvement efforts to keep your employees happy and engaged with planned improvement initiatives and a continuous improvement culture also create tremendous upside for your practice. Strong morale helps your admin staff to be high performing as they take ownership of ensuring your practice succeeds. Some of these benefits include:
- Increased productivity: Happy staff members are more motivated and efficient and more likely to go above and beyond in their roles.
- Improved employee retention: Better morale reduces employee burnout so that you can retain top talent, avoid high turnover rates, and potentially operate with a lean staff.
- Enhanced teamwork: More satisfied employees collaborate more cohesively and improve your team’s overall effectiveness.
- Increased patient satisfaction: More motivated employees provide better service to patients in a way that raises the bar on the patient experience you provide.
- Improved patient care: Employees with greater job satisfaction tend to be more engaged, proactive, and attentive to the needs of their patients.
- Cost savings: Higher morale means your admin team is more attentive to details and takes more pride in the quality of their work, which reduces data errors and other mistakes. They’re also less likely to switch employers, lowering your costs to hire and train new staff.
- Enhanced practice reputation: Practices that maintain high staff morale will affect patient satisfaction and help your practice to score higher on online reviews that help bring in more new patients.
9 Ways to Create a Culture of Continuous Improvement at Your Practice
Adopting these tried and true principles will help ensure that your admin staff is motivated, engaged, and performs at the highest levels.
1. Lead by example and hold yourself accountable first
As the manager, you set the tone and pace for your practice’s culture and how your admin team performs. Your staff will follow your lead if you can talk the talk AND walk the walk. Showing up on time for meetings or huddles, hitting deadlines, and owning up to mistakes will help your employees follow suit.
2. Promote a work-life balance among employees
Your employees don’t live to work, they work to live. Ensure your staff members get regular paid time off and that work schedules and hours aren’t excessive. Admin staff members who are overworked aren’t able to perform at peak levels and need sufficient days off to recharge their batteries. Make sure your team is able to actually take lunch and coffee breaks so that when they’re at the front desk, they can give you their best. Make time for team-building activities or meals to build camaraderie and strengthen relationships.
3. Invest in trust building
According to a Slack study, 80% of employees want to know more about how decisions are made within their company, and 87% want employers to be more transparent. As much as possible, involve your staff in decision-making that directly impacts them. Create a culture of open communication by offering your team easy and accessible ways to share honest feedback and ask questions. Teams invested in their practice will be more likely to give their best efforts, be more proactive, and make sure patients have a great experience.
4. Reassess task distribution
Too heavy of a workload can tank team morale in a heartbeat. Regularly reassess daily work and task assignments and look for ways to minimize repetitive, manual clerical work. Ensure your front office is adequately staffed, and seek to implement technology like patient communications tools to streamline processes, reduce phone calls, reduce wait times and empower a small team to be more effective and efficient.
5. Improve broken and inefficient systems and processes
Commit to identifying and solving problems and logjams in your current workflows and systems. Nothing is more frustrating for your admin team than having to perform cumbersome and often futile tasks which a bit of thinking outside of the box and technology could easily resolve. Digital tools like automated appointment reminders, recall notifications, and patient self-service tools like payment reminders save time and let your front office staff work smarter instead of harder, which also boosts productivity. Encourage your team to share feedback on what works, what doesn’t and ideas for possible fixes, and then implement those remedies.
6. Encourage more open communication
Set positive, measurable, and realistic expectations, metrics and goals for your team and make sure they’re clearly communicated. Respect and give space for employees to share their opinions and perspectives. Err on the side of over-communicating rather than let ambiguity and uncertainty cause unintended consequences. Create a culture of two-way feedback and personal accountability, and hold yourself and your employees accountable for respective duties and responsibilities.
7. Express appreciation and reward achievements
Routinely show your appreciation for staff members’ efforts and contributions. Have a reward system with fun prizes and gather the team monthly to recognize outstanding individual efforts and share patients’ praise for staff from surveys and online reviews. Give your employees opportunities for professional growth and advancement. Your staff will be more likely to offer ideas and suggestions when they see that management appreciates and adopts their input.
8. Improve your technology
Your admin team can only be as effective as the tools they’re given to work with. Minimize time-consuming manual tasks, phone call hours, and data entry by adopting patient communications tools that boost productivity and your appointment volume. You’d be surprised what even a small staff can accomplish when they’re able to use automated solutions to book appointments and help patients keep those visits. Boost your team’s job satisfaction while reducing your costs and bringing in greater revenue.
9. Invest in employee growth
Nothing improves employees’ motivation and outlook more than if they know there are opportunities to grow professionally and/or advance at the practice. Provide regular training and ensure an experienced staff member can coach and onboard newer team members. Make sure your frontline staff can acquire new skills, get training on new procedures or systems, and access to the support they need to be successful. Set goals and benchmarks your team members can work toward to get promotions or bumps in compensation.
The morale and job satisfaction of your individual admin team members closely correlate with the degree of success and growth your practice is able to achieve. Actively seeking to implement new and forward-thinking processes, policies, and tools not only helps your front office staff to relieve stress and perform at their best, but it also means greater productivity, lower operating costs, and greater efficiencies for your practice.
To learn how you can substantially upgrade your collections, build your accounts payable, and give patients a better payment experience, download the guide, “Patient Payment Playbook: How to Boost Your Collections in Half the Time.”Read the Guide