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Five Ways to Make Lasting Cultural Changes in the Healthcare Work Environment

Improving outcomes in healthcare can depend on changing your culture. In addition to the important advice of “slowing down” decision-making and managing expectations about putting a big initiative in place, there are other critical elements necessary to ensure that cultural change occurs. In many cases, it may help for healthcare leaders to review ideas together, discuss with organization stakeholders, and determine a plan for moving forward. A best practice is to create timelines for the next 12-months to implement initiatives and then frequently check on overall success while reinforcing efforts along the way.

Here are some strategies you may want to consider for your cultural change initiative:

Match Strategy and Culture: Don’t assume that every strategy or initiative created actually fits the personality of your organization. We live in a society of “the grass is greener…,” and sometimes leaders make changes that don’t fit their organization. Instead, strive to initiate change that makes clear sense for your employees based on your organization’s core values.

Prioritize incremental gains over large changes: On top of communicating the general direction of your immediate change efforts, don’t forget to recognize your employees as your leaders see improvement. This should happen granularly, in the moment, and over time. Don’t expect to just send “update emails” each quarter and expect to see continued progress.

Recognize the strengths of your culture (and people) as they are NOW: Don’t wait to assume who your team could become over time. Instead, take inventory of those individuals who are living out your core values today. This isn’t to single out those who aren’t living them out , but instead it sets the base of those that will strengthen your culture.

Embrace informal interactions (they create formal ones): This might be the most important factor because this is where the real work happens. Meetings and structured events play a critical role in your cultural evolution, but they don’t make the interpersonal change that happens informally at the water cooler, break rooms, or work areas where your employees interact. Leaders need to understand that the most important tool in their toolkit consists of the words “How are you doing today?” What’s even better, 53% of Millennial and Gen-Y employees see these informal interactions as meetings when done with a leader. Keep these informal moments short and frequent. Every 3-7 days for every employee if possible.

Measure cultural evolution: Use generic, large metrics for evolution. If you’re not categorizing your turnover data (voluntary vs. involuntary, etc.) then start there. Tracking this important metric, and others like it, is critical to gauging success.

This blog post is based on “ We’re Sorry But Real Change Takes Time” from HealthStream partner AMPT, a social recognition platform that allows organizations to easily and effectively recognize employees in their moments of greatness. AMPT enables employees to connect, engage, and grow by allowing them to recognize, share and celebrate moments of greatness. The AMPT platform allows companies to connect their core values to recognition accomplishments, which ultimately drives employee performance. When an employee receives praise for their efforts, their job satisfaction increases, motivation improves, and positive actions are reinforced. Learn more about HealthStream solutions for healthcare employee engagement and retention.

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