employee accountabilityA few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of presenting on creating a culture of employee accountability at the 40th Annual Virginia Association of Nonprofit Homes for the Aging (VANHA) Conference and Tradeshow in Hot Springs, Virginia. Here are three of my personal takeaways that I believe long term care professionals can use to facilitate a greater culture of employee accountability.

Encourage Employee Storytelling

Every staff meeting should start with a story of an employee or a team going above and beyond for your residents. It may seem corny at first, but it will take hold of your culture and pretty soon everyone will want to share a story. If your employees are uncomfortable sharing something that they did themselves, they can always tell a story about something they saw their co-worker doing for a resident. This is a great way to provide your staff with informal employee recognition. I think it’s safe to say that most long term care organizations have employees and leaders who consistently go the extra mile. By sharing these stories, it could inspire others to go above and beyond the call of duty in the hopes that they too will be recognized. The more stories employees share, the more accountable they feel to the organization, and storytelling helps educate everyone in the department on how to best serve residents.

Define Accountability and Provide Structure

One of the first things you need to do is define what employee accountability means to your organization. One of our clients, Overlake Hospital Medical Center in Seattle, defines accountability as “a personal choice to rise above one’s circumstances and demonstrate the ownership necessary for achieving results.” In other words, this means that no matter how terrible their day is or whatever is going on in their personal lives, they’re going to do their job with a smile and will own the satisfaction level of their residents. While they’re at work, they’re responsible for providing great care to their residents no matter what. Once you’ve defined accountability, you need to put structures in place that support it.

According to our scientific adviser, Dr. Frederick Morgeson of Michigan State University, “instead of simply exhorting employees to take responsibility, organizations should create structures that encourage, enhance and enable their employees to be accountable for their actions.” Behavioral assessment software provides a more scientific approach to hiring and ensures you are assessing the behavioral competencies needed to facilitate an environment of employee accountability such as compassion, flexibility, and willingness to learn. When a candidate takes the behavioral assessment, the software generates a custom interview guide for hiring managers to use in the interview process. This creates a more structured process that ensures candidates possess the behavioral competencies desired to aid in creating a culture of employee accountability.

Incorporate Positive Discipline

One of the most important ways to facilitate a culture of employee accountability is to ensure that your employees feel valued. Their work matters because without them the organization would not be able to provide the care your residents need. Recognize that people are working hard, especially your top performers. Positive employee feedback should be given to reinforce customer focused behavior and negative feedback should be given to correct detrimental behavior. Rewards and employee incentives must be linked to those positive employee behaviors to promote resident-centric care. When you give employees feedback, be corrective and positive – rather than only focusing on the negative. You’re helping employees improve their performance and their ability to better serve your residents. By tracking these positive discipline instances in an online platform, such as performance management software, data is more easily accessible, and the ability for managers to track feedback becomes more consistent and ingrained into your organization’s culture.

As you build and roll out initiatives to drive accountability through storytelling, formal structures and positive disciple programs, remember to listen to employee feedback along the way. You’re going to get more buy in from employees if you show them you care about their input as your implement these new initiatives.  As Myra Jonhson, VP of HR at Heritage Community of Kalamazoo said: “It’s important to ask for employee feedback, listen to the input, make improvements, and then communicate about the changes. If employees see progress in the workplace, they’re more likely to be satisfied with their position.”

Download the Employee Accountability Initiatives White Paper to explore the driving forces behind the push for employee accountability and implementation initiatives specifically built for healthcare organizations.  


About The Editorial Staff

The Editorial Staff is a team of writers with a passion for helping healthcare organizations manage their biggest and most important investment: their employees.