Jacob Kupietzky is President of HealthCare Transformation, a company dedicated to providing hospitals with experienced interim executives.

One of the most important aspects of a hospital’s success is its team of employees. From nurses and doctors to administrators and support staff, every individual on the team is essential in ensuring that patients receive the best possible care. However, with a great diversity of people and job functions, how can we as healthcare leaders create a positive and productive work environment for everyone?

A recent study by Becker’s Hospital Review found that employers are shifting away from mass hiring in favor of recruiting for specific roles through internal promotion. One reason for this shift in hiring is the savings of time and money—and to provide more relevant and meaningful onboarding and training. This is just one practice that offers an opportunity to support your current employees and create a more positive and productive work environment. But there are other essential ingredients you can implement to create community in your organization right now.

Team-building is not a one-time event.

One way to improve the work environment is to focus on team-building exercises. These exercises can help employees learn more about one another, their job functions and how they can work together to provide the best possible care for patients.

But team-building is not a one-time event. And it doesn’t have to be intense, week-long gatherings either. In fact, for hospitals and healthcare systems, more bite-sized experiences at a higher frequency might be more successful to accommodate all shifts and the diversity of roles. Ask yourself, what would change in your organizations if team building was built into each day, each week? How would that change the culture of work for everyone?

Get a pulse on what’s happening.

Do you know exactly what tasks your staff is completing and the processes and systems that support those? It can be really eye opening to do a spot check and immerse yourself in the day to day to ensure that the workflow happening is actually aligned with the organization’s priorities and goals—and with what you want to see happening. For example, did a process get streamlined or a document replaced, but a majority of the team didn’t know?

Having clarity on what’s happening also helps you set reasonable goals and expectations. Employees don’t just want to understand what is expected of them; they want to be successful and have the support and means to make that happen. You can prevent confusion, conflict, turnover and low morale by truly knowing what their jobs entail and how they impact the department as a whole. Have roles evolved so that job descriptions need to be changed? Is there a bottleneck? Are the tools and technology still being used, or do they need to be re-evaluated and modernized?

Regular feedback should flow in both directions.

When you incorporate taking a pulse regularly into your leadership style, you’ll find that providing and implementing feedback becomes seamless. Creativity and collaboration increase because when people understand how they are doing and how it impacts the organization as a whole, they become more passionate and engaged. This is the other side of setting clear expectations: when regular, honest feedback is a part of the organization’s culture, it helps employees feel seen and appreciated, which can boost morale and productivity. So make sure you have a way for your employees to give you feedback. The people on the front line every day are an invaluable resource of knowledge and practical advice for you to clearly understand the daily reality of the organization. From this knowledge, you can make sustainable changes and support your employees.

A positive and productive work environment is essential for any hospital or healthcare organization. By focusing on regular team-building exercises, being engaged in the day to day, and providing and requesting regular feedback, you can create a work environment that benefits everyone in the organization and that will ripple outward to benefit patients and the community, as well.

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