2024 Trends: Employee Listening & People Analytics in Healthcare
In the third installment of our EX Trends to Watch in 2024 series — be sure to check out the first and second installments — we want to look at the role of employee listening and people analytics within the healthcare industry. To do this, we harnessed the expertise of our colleagues from the research and People@Work teams. Their collective wisdom offers a forward-looking perspective on how healthcare organizations are leveraging employee listening and people analytics to drive improvements in EX, as well as elevate patient care and safety.
The Unique Dynamics of Healthcare: A Closer Look
Healthcare, as an industry, stands apart in its approach and challenges concerning employee listening and analytics. Unlike other sectors, healthcare organizations are uniquely positioned to integrate employee feedback directly with patient outcomes, thereby creating a direct link between staff satisfaction and service quality. In this complex and high-stakes environment, how are healthcare institutions ensuring their investments in employee listening and development translate into tangible, positive outcomes in patient care?
#1 — Unparalleled Opportunities in Healthcare Data
Heather Sager, Ph.D., Senior Consultant: “There's a unique advantage in healthcare that's often overlooked: the mandate to conduct patient surveys in a methodical and validated manner. This isn't just about compliance; it's a goldmine for drawing meaningful connections between employee experiences (EX) and customer experiences (CX). In other industries, such systematic feedback from customers is rare. Imagine if every time you visited a grocery store or a restaurant, you were asked to fill out a survey, and the establishment was held accountable for your responses. This scenario, which is a daily reality in healthcare, creates a significant pressure cooker. However, it's also an incredible opportunity. Healthcare organizations can leverage this wealth of data to make impactful changes that directly enhance patient care and service quality. By comparing and contrasting EX and CX insights, we can identify patterns and trends that would otherwise remain hidden. [Read Dr. Sager’s longer blog on 2024 healthcare EX trends.] The challenge, of course, lies in effectively managing this data deluge and translating it into actionable strategies that benefit both employees and patients.”
#2 — Integrated Survey Approaches
Crystal Perel, M.A., Senior Consultant: “The trend in healthcare towards an integrated survey approach is about more than just efficiency; it’s a strategic decision. [Read our blog on integrated surveys in healthcare.] By combining surveys for employees, physicians, and nurses into a single, comprehensive exercise, organizations can capture a holistic view of their internal dynamics. Take, for example, Children's Nebraska. By surveying different groups simultaneously, they uncovered high-level themes common across all surveys. This allowed for a unified approach to action planning, rather than addressing each group's concerns in isolation. It's a method that offers a clearer, more unified vision of an organization's health. However, this approach isn't without its challenges. It requires a delicate balance to ensure that each group's unique voices are heard and addressed, without getting lost in a sea of generalized feedback. This nuanced understanding is critical in healthcare, where the stakes involve not just employee satisfaction but also patient care and safety. The ultimate goal is to create a work environment where staff can thrive, leading to better patient outcomes.”
#3 — Linking Employee Experience to Patient Outcomes
Ellen Lovell, Ph.D., Senior Consultant: “In healthcare, the ability to draw direct correlations between employee experience and patient outcomes offers a unique advantage. This linkage is something few industries can claim, and it provides a powerful tool for demonstrating the tangible effects of workplace satisfaction on overall business performance. However, this isn't just about proving a point; it's about improving lives. By highlighting the direct impact of employee morale and engagement on patient care, healthcare organizations can make a compelling case for investing in their workforce. The challenge lies in the data itself. Collecting clean, usable data is often the biggest hurdle. We need to ensure that our data collection methods are robust and that our analysis is insightful. The goal is to move beyond mere numbers and statistics to understand the stories they tell. This requires a level of data literacy that is currently lacking in many organizations, not just in healthcare but across all industries. By improving our ability to collect, analyze, and act on data, we can make significant strides in linking employee satisfaction to customer satisfaction and, ultimately, to better business outcomes.”
#4 — The Continuing Value of Employee Experience
Crystal Perel: “Employee Experience (EX) is not just a buzzword in healthcare; it's becoming a cornerstone of organizational strategy. As we move into 2024, the trend of nurses unionizing in response to staffing shortages is a clear indicator of the growing emphasis on EX. This movement is a call to action for healthcare organizations to reevaluate how they support their staff, particularly through the use of technology. The historical rollout of systems like Electronic Medical Records (EMRs) has often been a double-edged sword, improving some aspects of healthcare delivery while inadvertently increasing the workload for staff. This has led to a paradoxical situation where technological advances, meant to streamline processes, end up diminishing employee engagement due to the additional burdens they impose. In the coming year, healthcare organizations need to navigate this landscape carefully. The goal should be to implement technology solutions that genuinely support and enhance the roles of healthcare workers, rather than adding to their challenges. This approach requires a deep understanding of the day-to-day experiences of healthcare staff and a commitment to involving them in the technology integration process. Only by doing so can healthcare organizations ensure that technological advancements lead to positive outcomes for both employees and patients.”
#5 — The Tension Between Profit and Purpose
Ellen Lovell: “The coming year in healthcare will likely continue to highlight the tension between operating as a profit-driven business and maintaining a purpose-driven ethos focused on caregiving. This dichotomy is particularly pronounced in hospitals and health systems, where the emphasis on financial margins is increasingly at odds with the caregiving ethos that motivates many healthcare workers. This shift in focus can have a demoralizing effect on the workforce, leading to a decrease in job satisfaction and an increase in turnover. Unfortunately, there seems to be no quick fix or 'magic bullet' on the horizon for 2024. As organizations grapple with this challenge, we may see a continued decline in key metrics like employee retention and intent to stay. The key for healthcare organizations will be to find a balance that allows them to be financially sustainable while still honoring and supporting the intrinsic motivations of their staff. This requires a nuanced approach that recognizes the unique pressures facing healthcare workers and addresses them in a way that aligns with the core values of caregiving.”
#6 — Top Healthcare Priorities
Stephanie Schloemer, Ph.D., Senior Consultant: “As we look towards 2024, there are three critical priorities for healthcare organizations. First and foremost is the need for clarity of direction and future vision, especially in light of the ongoing staffing crisis. Frontline employees are seeking clear and concise communication from senior leadership about the initiatives that will directly impact their day-to-day work. This communication should focus less on abstract, big-picture ideas and more on concrete, actionable plans that address immediate concerns."
"Secondly, retention remains a significant challenge. Healthcare organizations must demonstrate a genuine commitment to the growth and development of their talent. This involves not only providing opportunities for professional advancement but also creating a supportive work environment that acknowledges and addresses the unique stresses faced by healthcare workers. Lastly, there's a growing need to explore new ways of working. This includes flexible scheduling and innovative approaches to care delivery, which are essential for attracting and retaining talent in an increasingly competitive landscape. By addressing these priorities, healthcare organizations can better support their staff and, by extension, improve the quality of care they provide.”
#7 — Technology and Leadership Development
Crystal Perel: “For healthcare in 2024, the top priorities should include an increased role of technology, particularly AI, in supplementing workflows. This goes beyond mere automation; it's about using technology to enhance the capabilities of healthcare professionals, thereby improving both efficiency and patient care. Alongside this, retention will be a critical focus. Innovative strategies for sourcing candidates are essential in a sector where talent pools are increasingly tight. This involves not just attracting new talent but also creating an environment that encourages existing staff to stay. Finally, building internal leadership development is crucial. Healthcare organizations need to invest in creating pathways for internal mobility, meeting the growing needs of employees for professional growth and development. By focusing on these areas, healthcare organizations can not only address current challenges but also lay the groundwork for a more resilient and adaptive future.”
Employee Listening with Perceptyx Can Help You See the Future of Healthcare
If past is precedent, the healthcare industry in 2024 stands poised to undergo further significant changes. Healthcare organizations will need to navigate these trends thoughtfully, focusing on key areas such as employee engagement, managerial effectiveness, DEIB initiatives, staffing and compensation challenges, leadership transformation, mental health support, and technological advancements.
For those interested in exploring the complexities surrounding employee experience in healthcare, remember that the ideas shared here constitute the tip of the iceberg. To gain a more comprehensive understanding, we invite you to download our detailed State of the Healthcare Employee Experience 2023 report filled with data-driven insights and actionable strategies for improvement. To talk to a member of our team about how Perceptyx can support your healthcare organization, schedule a meeting.