Simply put, your organization’s healthcare mission is a promise. Wrapped up in a simple statement are the core beliefs and guiding principles that create an environment where promises can be kept — not just to the patients you serve, but also to the clinicians and staff who choose to work for your organization.
While it’s true that a healthcare mission is “just words,” this simple phrase can bring clarity to the reasons your organization exists and why someone would want to be treated or employed there. A healthcare mission should stand the test of time, even difficult times, like those created by the recent pandemic that continues to cause so much stress on healthcare systems nationwide.
Staying Close to the “Why”
People enter healthcare professions for many reasons, but nearly all express an underlying desire to care for others. The challenge for healthcare leaders today is to find ways to keep employees connected to the organization’s healthcare mission but also to the most basic reasons why they chose to enter the healthcare profession in the first place.
The underlying motivation to care for others rarely changes, but a healthcare worker’s ability to sustain engagement and fulfill the hospital mission can be directly impacted by a variety of things outside of their control. Losing sight of the “why” is a natural consequence of being asked to do too much with too little for too long.
Prioritizing Healthcare Mission and Staff Connectivity
Identifying ways to keep teams connected to the healthcare mission must be a priority for leaders in order to survive and thrive in today’s healthcare environment.
Hospital CMO and physician John Tynes summed it up this way in a recent Becker’s Hospital Review article.
“I think that our biggest challenge is going to be to restore in our workers the sense that healthcare is a worthy calling. The past couple of years have demonstrated for all the world to see just how stressful it can be to be a healthcare worker, and many of our colleagues have unfortunately come to the conclusion that they are undervalued and underappreciated, or that they are just not making enough of a meaningful contribution to justify the risks and frustrations that they encounter every day.”
The only way to counter this trend is to find ways to steer healthcare providers and staff back to the underlying reasons they chose a healthcare profession, then help them reconnect with the sense of purpose and value that comes from caring for others.
Tools to Keep Teams Connected to Hospital Mission
As a leader of a healthcare organization, it is your responsibility to develop and implement tools that sustain engagement and foster inclusiveness and belonging. This includes providing consistent and meaningful reminders of the “why” surrounding healthcare mission and staff fulfillment. This sounds like a tall order, and indeed it is. But making a strategic commitment to keeping teams connected to the hospital mission doesn’t have to be costly or complicated.
- Add Gratitude to Your Daily Workflow
Much like the workflows already in place around clinical protocols or other hospital procedures, it’s imperative to build a daily workflow based around gratitude, belonging and kindness. Make time to foster relationships, deal openly and honestly with staffing changes or shortages, talk openly about daily challenges and listen to ideas from staff at every level. Doing so can go a long way toward creating an environment where staff feels they are heard and they matter.
In an already stressed work environment, treating others with respect no matter their role can soften the impact of the daily stressors that make healthcare delivery so challenging.
- Prioritize Staff Wellbeing
Healthcare workers are often hesitant to care for themselves. Long-standing cultural expectations around healthcare workers being “superhuman” play into this dilemma. Hesitancy to show weakness and “powering through for the good of the patient” isn’t a mindset that is easily changed, and that is exactly why those in leadership positions must make it their responsibility to look out for each team member’s physical and mental wellbeing.
Even when patient loads are unmanageable and there isn’t enough staff to go around, a team that is burned out, sick or operating without adequate rest creates a situation where focus on the hospital mission is no longer possible. Hospital leaders must develop and implement programs to prioritize self-care and provide access to resources when staff needs them.
- Foster Inclusivity
Every team operates more effectively if members feel they are valued, belong and have the ability to make an impact. Working to instill an inclusive culture is one way to foster this sense of belonging among healthcare staff. In this sense, inclusivity involves more than diversity (although this is also important to building strong, resilient teams).
Encouraging team members to be involved in decision-making can help grow team relationships, connect them around the overall hospital mission and encourage them to come to work every day to carry out that important mission. Creating a culture that empowers staff at all levels to contribute meaningful input and shared decision-making will enable you to build a team that works together for the good of the patient, and it leads to much greater job fulfillment for those involved.
Dr. Lewis Marshall, a CMO at Cleveland Clinic, puts it this way, “We use the term ‘ancillary’ to describe staff that are not direct caregivers. This term is not respectful. We should be calling all staff ‘essential’ staff. Just try to get a blood test result without the lab technician. Respect and recognition will go a long way to helping us feel like we are valued.”
There are admittedly many more factors that impact a hospital’s ability to connect its staff with overall mission. Starting with some of the most basic solutions – including those that put healthcare staff at the top of the priority list right alongside patients — is a good place to start.
Healthcare workers still want to deliver on the promises they made to you when they joined your team. They believe in your organization’s hospital mission or they wouldn’t still be there putting themselves and their families at risk every day. As healthcare leaders, we must find ways to make it possible for them to remember the mission and keep their promises. In the end, the patients, staff and the entire organization will benefit.
Looking for More Information about Hospital Mission and Team Connectivity?
Join us for a Cassling Leadership Institute webinar on June 15 and June 16 entitled “Leadership Fundamentals: How to Connect Your Team to Your Mission & Act Upon it Daily.”*
Bellevue University’s Angela Longe, MBA, SHRM-SCP, SPHR will share her insights around best practices for aligning the mission to daily operations and activities. Topics will include goal-setting, performance management and employee engagement. Register today!
*This session has been approved by the ASRT for 1 Category A continuing education credit.