Employee Engagement in Healthcare GuideThe benefits of conducting an employee engagement survey are difficult to ignore. You can argue that engaged employees are more productive because they understand their purpose and find satisfaction in the work they do.

When employees are engaged, it can lead to greater innovation, productivity, and just as important — they become ambassadors and brand champions of your organization. When an employee reaches this level of engagement, they tend to excel and recruit other well-motivated employees who, too, will embrace the organization’s culture.

Many organizations use surveys to measure employee’s opinions and satisfaction about their work and work environment. These surveys can often take an hour to complete with exhaustive questions about pay and benefits, recognition, opportunities for growth, professional development programs, supervisors, upper management, corporate culture, retention, recruitment, and employee onboarding — just to name a few.

However, despite spending a considerable amount of time, resources, and money conducting employee engagement surveys, many healthcare organizations still fail to meet their organizational goals; and perhaps most notably their goal of retaining top talent.

If all of this sounds familiar to you, here are five reasons why your employee engagement survey efforts are failing and what you should do about it:

1.  Inconsistent Surveys Produce Unreliable Data

If you are only conducting your employee engagement survey on an annual basis, you are not collecting data often enough for it to be reliable. Employee’s opinions about their organization can change on a day-to-day or week-to-week basis. Many environmental factors influence job dissatisfaction, and how someone may feel coming into work that can affect the way that they respond a survey.

2.  Employees Fear Transparency

The truth is that despite your efforts to assure confidentiality of the survey, many employees still believe that their managers will somehow find out how they answered. In fear of retaliation, employees will often respond favorably or give inconsistent answers to survey questions to avoid perceived (or real) repercussions.

3.  An Engaged Workforce ≠ Organizational Success

One of my favorite sayings is “Don’t confuse effort for results.” Many employees love their work, are long-term, committed, and loyal employees who have a great appreciation for their organization and its leadership. But without the proper training, professional development, and performance management systems and processes in place, despite being “engaged,” employees can still fail to meet their personal and professional goals.

4. Other “Engagement” Indicators

As mentioned above, an employee engagement survey is taken by employees who respond based upon what they feel at one time. To figure out the level of employee engagement needed to achieve organizational success consider measuring and monitoring:

  • The number of workers’ compensation claims
  • The number of employees’ on a leave of absence
  • Regrettable turnover of high performers and high-potential employees
  • The number of education hours/classes that employees voluntarily attend
  • Performance appraisal and evaluation ratings
  • The number of discrimination complaints and legal claims

5.  Lack of Follow Up

I would argue that the number one reason your organization should consider discontinuing their employee engagement survey is if your organization has no plan to follow up on the feedback it receives. Not only do some employees not answer the survey truthfully, but they will also choose not to take the survey at all. Why? Because employees feel that their opinion doesn’t count anyway and nothing will come of it.

If your healthcare organization has conducted an employee engagement survey in the past and has not communicated the results, drafted action plans that involved employee input, or followed up on those action plans, your organization has lost its credibility with its employees.

There is no argument that the success of any healthcare organization begins with having a well-qualified and engaged Patient-Centered Workforce™. The keyword in the previous sentence is “begins.” To support healthy levels of employee engagement, organizations must put effort into activities outside of the annual engagement survey. I challenge you to ask yourself: What does your organization’s engaged workforce look like?


Editor’s note: A version of this post originally appeared on LinkedIn and is published here with the author’s permission. 


Are you interested in learning more about how you can improve employee engagement in your healthcare organization? Download our free how-to guide:

Building Employee Engagement: How to Improve Employee Retention and Increase Patient Satisfaction

Employee Engagement in Healthcare Guide
Natasha Bowman, JD, SPHR

About Natasha Bowman, JD, SPHR

Natasha has been leading organizations through the complex, fast-changing human resources landscape for more than 10 years. As the Director of Education and Organizational Development at White Plains Hospital and through her talent management and leadership development consulting firm, Performance Re-New, she has developed a reputation as an expert thought leader for organizations like The Heritage Foundation, Knowledge International, and Wiley Publishing. She is a highly sought after presenter, and has spoken and taught at some of the most prestigious corporate classrooms and graduate business schools in the country such as Fordham University, Walmart Stores Inc., Manhattan College, Northwell Health, Georgetown University, and The Jack Welch Management Institute.