Improving Staff Morale in Healthcare Organizations

In 2009, Healthcare Finance News reported that twenty percent of more than 350 healthcare employers reported low morale among employees. Meanwhile, thirty-eight percent of healthcare workers cited lack of motivation and nearly twenty-five percent reported no loyalty to their employers! Nearly fifty percent of healthcare workers surveyed cite increased stress on the job, and fifty percent noted an increase in their workload in the last six months. Most would agree that these numbers will not go down in the next coming years but will go up.

Staff morale can make or break any organization. When employee morale is low, decreased productivity or little collaboration to support organization goals and objectives can result. Unfortunately, there is no magical formula in boosting employees’ morale. The challenge in improving employee morale is complex as it involves the organization’s culture and environment. Healthcare organizations should “prepare and support” their employees appropriately in this healthcare challenging time. As more new technology applications are introduced in healthcare , employees are faced with more complex accountability. It is crucial for healthcare organizations to reassess each employee’s “task alignment” whenever introducing new technology into the work environment.

Task alignment is an approach to employee behavioral change that starts with the identification of key issues in the work units within the organization and asks employees to realign their roles, responsibilities and relationship to perform necessary tasks. Training encourages dialogue and feedback among employees. This feedback should focus on what needs to be improved from both the employee and the management perspectives.

According to Harvard Business Review (April 2014) in its article “Stop Trying to Control Employees or Make Them Happy,” the traditional management “hard” approach started in the 80s; however, this approach is not effective in the 21st century when dealing with digital communications and managing the “X” and “Y” generations. Management should try the “soft” approach by understanding and clarifying what employees do through dialogue and feedback loops; reassessing task alignment; increasing employee power; improving organization transparency; increasing employee reciprocity; and improving the working environment. That would in turn increase employee accountability. Give frontline employees more autonomy to do their job—for instance, by empowering them to make critical judgments and encouraging them to cooperate with each other. When there are dialogues and shared purposes among employees, challenging situations become less complex and employees can work collaborate together to create mutual engagement.

Scheduling regular “social events”, such as monthly /quarterly birthdays, ice-cream social or holiday potlucks can boost morale. Through social events, employees can strengthen their working relationship. Congruence between organizational values and individual values should be nurtured to create an organizational culture comprised of employees who have the desired traits in supporting the success of the organization. Increasing feelings of ownership among employees will boost employee morale and productivity.

Some healthcare organizations have focused on employee perks to increase morale and productivity. One company in Phoenix, Arizona built shower rooms to encourage its employees to bike to work and exercise; large healthcare organizations in California implement walking meetings across the organization and built walking tracks inside the building. Many managers find that walking meetings have strengthened relationships with their team members. However, not all meetings should have this type of structure. It is not the time for employee discipline or other formal business operations requiring lots of documents for the meeting.

At this time, Google, Inc. is probably at the top of all organizations to provide perks for its employees to boost their morale, productivity, loyalty and creativity; these include free meals, onsite day-care, fitness room, game room, free shuttle to and from work, etc. Not many organizations can compete with Google, Inc. for the employee perks and morale boosters; however, investing in flexible work schedules, organized work environment, day care program, comfortable break rooms, game room, family fun nights, discount programs, social clubs, and other amenities would be worthy investments for boosting employee morale.


Information on policies or practices are solely from my personal experience ONLY and have NO relation to my affiliation with any regulatory or government agency.


-Caroline Satyadi, MT(ASCP), SM, DLM, SLS, MBA, MS, CQA (ASQ) has been a laboratory management professional for over 25 years. She has worked with several different medical industries for CLIA/CMS, FDA/ICH/ISO, TJC/CAP/COLA/HFAP accreditation survey readiness.

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