This blog is taken from a recent HealthStream webinar entitled “The Future of Employee Engagement.” It was moderated by HealthStream’s Jaclyn Franklin and Jamie Lamphear and featured Greg Gorgone, Cofounder and COO of Pineapple Academy.
Recruiting and keeping talent in the competitive and chaotic sector of hospitality in healthcare is difficult to say the least. In addition, it is time-consuming and expensive to recruit, hire, and train new employees only to have them leave within weeks. High turnover impacts employee satisfaction and engagement, but it also has a significant impact on operational efficiency, regulatory compliance and the overall quality of the service provided.
Gorgone has a deep background in hospitality and, along with his partner, Tucker Graves, started Pineapple Academy four years ago. He believes that culture has everything to do with successful employee engagement strategies and has some great recommendations on how to engage these employees. Gorgone also shared that getting engagement right in your hospitality department can also help build a pipeline of employees who may be seeking a healthcare career outside of hospitality.
The pandemic has left little about the American workforce unchanged. Gorgone shared that of the 5.35 million people who left the workforce during the pandemic, many of them appear to be workers who simply retired earlier than expected – taking a great deal of institutional and organizational knowledge with them.
Lower skilled workers are also leaving the workforce in record numbers (turnover in hospitality is estimated by the Bureau of Labor Statistics to be as high as 70%) and the pandemic further reduced staffing levels amongst these workers as well. Gorgone acknowledges that the pandemic was contributory to these trends, but encourages leaders to recognize the role of culture and working conditions. In addition, he recognizes that healthcare hospitality work can be difficult, the hours long and that there are industry management practices that need to change. He encouraged an increased focus on employee engagement and that managers consider evolving their roles to less of a top-down management style.
Gorgone recommended beginning the process of evolving management practices by embracing the practice of Servant Leadership. The term was first coined by Robert K. Greenleaf in a 1970 essay. Greenleaf described a servant leader as wishing to serve first. “Then conscious choice brings one to aspire to lead,” said Greenleaf. Gorgone further describes it as simply being there for other people and taking care of them and believes that healthcare is a great fit for this style of leadership. He went on to point out that satisfaction and engagement scores tend to be higher in organizations that have some form of servant leadership model. Moreover, he reminds leaders that servant leadership does not have to come at the cost of fiscal responsibility and can, in fact, enhance financial performance.
Gorgone believes that it is time to re-think some of the more outdated and impractical training modalities typically seen in the healthcare hospitality industry. On-the-job training is frequently used in this setting, but provides an inconsistent training experience which results in an inconsistent customer experience and also creates an unclear career path for those looking to advance. Traditional Learning Management Systems (LMS) have resulted in low levels of learner engagement and usually do not include some of the skills training that is critically important for healthcare hospitality staff. Lastly, trade schools and community colleges are time consuming and financially out of reach for many workers.
Gorgone shared that the average length of a Pineapple Academy video is about 3.5 minutes – roughly the length of a song. The shorter length at more frequent intervals makes it easier for employees to assimilate and understand the material. He also encourages healthcare leaders to use a gradient approach to learning beginning with the most rudimentary content and proceeding on to more advanced content. The shorter duration of the training also means that employees can log in, quickly access their assigned learning content and get to their work assignments in 15 minutes or less.
In addition to providing efficient and effective training, HealthStream and the Pineapple Academy offer a solution that makes it easy to provide a clear training path for every member of your hospitality team. The LMS also makes it easy to document the training and create user-friendly reports for the organization or regulatory and accrediting agencies.
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