Employee Engagement: Make It Meaningful

Lena J. Weiner, September 29, 2014

Make employee engagement more than a buzzword by offering tangible, measurable benefits and creating meaningful interactions that really earn employee loyalty.

Free pizza, delivered to nurses' stations. Dessert carts wheeled by C-level executives. Mid-day dance breaks. The HR world is rife with "fun" suggestions for improving team morale and keeping your employees satisfied, engaged, and not actively plotting their escape.


William Beaumont Army Medical Center Labor
and Delivery staff nurses enjoy ice cream in celebration of a record-setting birth rate in August. Source: US Army

Whether these initiatives actually accomplish anything beneficial helpful has long been debated. But there is one measure by which they do seem to be paying off: Higher levels of employee engagement lead to improved HCAHPS scores and those scores translate into improved patient experience.

"You can't do one without the other," says Kevin Gwin, vice president of patient experience and communications at Ardent Health Services, a nationwide provider of hospital and healthcare services. "You just can't generate loyalty among patients without loyalty among your employees."

Patty McKay, senior director of learning and talent development at AMN Healthcare, a staffing, recruitment and HR consulting firm, agrees. "Disengaged employees will often have lower productivity and increased errors in their work products, which can ultimately lead to unwanted turnover," she says. "Additionally, the negative attitude of disengaged employees often has the potential to spread among their peers."

Lena J. Weiner

Lena J. Weiner is an associate editor at HealthLeaders Media.


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