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5-Step Guide to Engaging Nurses

By Jennifer Thew RN  
   April 01, 2018

Today, however, the organization is leaps and bounds from where it was. Here's how it bolstered employee engagement and improved service and quality outcomes.  

Step 1: Take a critical look at leadership

The Joint Commission complaint was a sign that nurses didn't think their concerns would be heard and acted upon by internal leaders. 

"Our nurses were feeling like they didn't have a voice," Crabbe says.

So the first course of action to improve staff engagement was to take a hard look at the system's leadership team. This meant moving some leaders into new positions, both within the organization and outside of it, that better matched their skills and strengths.  

"[Getting] the right people in the right leadership positions was our first decision and the impetus to some significant changes," says Crabbe. 

"We took some key personnel and moved them to positions that would drive outcomes in a more specific way," explains Bianca, whose own position was changed from vice president of many ancillary services—including service lines, home health, and outpatient—to her current role, which includes responsibility for inpatient nursing. 

"The very first thing we did was get the right people on the bus," she says.

"[Getting] the right people in the right leadership positions was our first decision and the impetus to some significant changes."

Amy Crabbe, MBA, CHHR, senior vice president of people services, Appalachian Regional Healthcare System, Boone, North Carolina

Two qualities were essential for members of the retooled leadership team—an ability to focus on data-driven and strategic outcomes, and a mastery of change management, says Crabbe. 

Step 2: Increase visibility with employee rounding

Even before subpar metrics were staring them in the face, leaders at the health system had discussed working with the Studer Group to change the organization's culture. They have since signed on with the consulting firm and implemented many of its tactics, including employee rounding. 

"The very first thing that I started immediately, which was a Studer tactic, was being as visible as I could possibly be," Bianca says. "I was rounding, rounding, rounding, rounding. I was in every nook and cranny of every unit—in the nighttime, the daytime, on the weekend, on the holidays. I think I pretty much lived here, probably for about a year, honestly. I wanted them to see that I cared about them … that we care, not just myself, but our leadership."

Jennifer Thew, RN, is the senior nursing editor at HealthLeaders.


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