Creating an engaging workforce culture - it takes a team!

Nancy Anderson, RN, MA, Senior Vice President of Engagement Solutions
Nancy Anderson, RN, MA, Senior Vice President of Engagement Solutions

An engaged workforce is not a “nice to have”, it's a full-blown business necessity that impacts almost every aspect of organizational operations. In a recent study done by Deloitte to determine what the biggest challenge is for businesses, employee engagement and culture issues exploded into the number one spot!

There are no “quick fixes” when it comes to creating an engaging workforce culture. It takes time, energy and commitment, starting with organizational leaders. It must become a fundamental part of how facility processes are organized, how decisions are made, how leaders interact with employees and how people are held accountable. It requires a change in the way we think and behave.

Your facility culture is made up of the values, beliefs, attitudes and behaviors that employees share and use to guide their work on a daily basis. It determines how employees talk about their job and their work environment. It impacts how they see themselves as part of the organization. It drives their decisions about how to behave in their work setting.

So how would your employees describe the culture of your organization?

Would they say, “We really work as a team in our facility!” or “Our residents always come first!” Or would they say, “I can't speak up about issues without getting my hand slapped” or “I have no idea what the management group does other than sit behind their desks!”

Obviously you want your employees feeling and thinking positively about your facility because it directly impacts how they perform, and frankly, whether or not they are motivated to stay working at your facility. So it makes sense that your facility management team would want to clearly understand your culture and work at developing a culture that feels engaging to employees.

Cultures are either created spontaneously, or they are created as a result of deliberate and intentional planning and action. Since your facility culture influences employee behavior, you will want to be very thoughtful about how you cultivate and manage it.

Cultural attributes

To understand culture, let's start by talking about the attributes of a culture. Attributes are the characteristics that define your facility's culture. Attributes can be positive or negative -- you could have a culture characterized by trust and integrity, or one characterized by mistrust and guardedness. A culture could be described as participatory or autocratic. The important thing to keep in mind is how these attributes make your employees feel because engagement is about the emotional commitment to the organization.

Align has researched and identified five cultural attributes that support a high level of employee engagement. Do these characteristics describe your facility?

  • Clear sense of purpose
    Employees have a clear line of sight to what matters most in the organization.
  • People-Focused Managers
    Managers and supervisors coach, develop and genuinely care about their employees.
  • Active Employee Voice
    Employees have opportunities to share ideas, express concerns and provide input on improvement opportunities.
  • Meaningful Connectedness
    The workplace supports a sense of belonging and promotes trust and collaboration among co-workers.
  • Visible Integrity
    Organizational values are reflected in day-to-day behavior.

There is no particular order to these attributes. The five are essential, inter-related components that, when combined, create an environment that feels vibrant, motivating and compelling to employees.

Moving forward

So, where can you begin? Building a culture of engagement is not something any one person can do alone. It takes teamwork, starting with the management team that leads the facility. In future articles, we'll cover each of the five cultural attributes that support employee engagement in more detail and offer up helpful strategies your management team can implement in your own organization. 

Nancy Anderson, RN, MA, is Align's Senior Vice President of Engagement Solutions. In her role, she provides strategic leadership and supports development of solutions to help providers successfully build and sustain a culture of engagement.

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