Lift Employees Up Through Regular Communications
More than a year into the pandemic, staff and administrators in healthcare facilities are exhausted. Although the COVID-19 vaccine is being rolled out, there has yet to be a slowdown in activity in our facilities. Fatigue at work is exacerbated by home-life challenges of parenting, schooling, quarantining and loss of social contact.
Now, more than ever, leadership needs to raise employees up. You need to demonstrate your appreciation for the continued sacrifices your team makes, help them feel secure, confident and capable. A commitment to regular, open employee communications can help achieve this goal. Effective internal communications are not costly, and they help create a culture of inclusiveness and engagement. When people feel valued, they give more.
Communications inside most healthcare facilities already look different than prior to the pandemic. Many facilities were forced to increase direct employee communications to keep up with all the change. As the pandemic wanes, you should establish processes to continue regular employee communications. You need them.
There is no single answer to the question of “How do I communicate effectively with my employees?” Every workplace is different, but leadership can demonstrate their appreciation of employees by committing to clear, transparent and frequent employee communications.
Critical elements to effective employee communications:
- Use multiple formats: face-to-face (live or Zoom), written and electronic.
- Have a plan: Conduct communications on a regular cadence.
- Provide opportunity for two-way communication, where employees may pose questions and receive responses.
- Tailor the message to the audience and to the medium being used.
- Make the messaging relevant, timely, honest, succinct and clear.
- Hold front-line leaders accountable for communications to their teams.
Creating a communications plan for the year helps ensure that communications take place on a regular basis, and that various modalities are used. It also helps leadership plan ahead. For example, townhalls tend to be the most effective communications tool, but they can be disruptive and costly when trying to include all employees. You may want to host quarterly townhalls, while committing to other communications on a weekly or monthly basis in between.
Types of communications practices to include in your plan:
Townhalls: In townhalls, senior leadership speaks directly to all employees, either live or via a Zoom/Teams call. In addition to sharing critical information, leaders can use the forum to recognize successes and acknowledge employee contributions. It helps to have a visual component (presentation) if the set-up and technology allow. Hold time for employee questions at the end of the event.
Because many employees have packed workdays, it’s important to allow them time for communication. Pay them an extra 30-60 minutes to attend a townhall. If meetings are in person, offer snacks or coffee. It sends a message that this is important.
Hold townhalls monthly or quarterly. Since most facilities have employees working in shifts, you might consider holding the same townhall at two different times to accommodate multiple shifts, and/or to record the townhall on video so that those who could not attend may watch it later.
There will always be employees who cannot attend a townhall. As such, front line leaders should be tasked with delivering the townhall content to their direct reports. As employees are often more comfortable posing questions to their own managers, these sessions are critical in assessing morale of the team. Set time aside in regular leadership meetings for managers to share feedback from their sessions.
Written communications: Regular written communications, whether email or print, help establish leadership as a trustworthy source. A weekly email lets employees know that if anything important is happening, it will be in the weekly update. A Monday Message, for instance, can include news and other information: reminders, success stories and people (personnel changes or recognition). It can be three sentences or 30 sentences. You can encourage employees to submit news to be included.
If you have employees who do not use computers at work, have printed versions of all electronic communications made available to them. Establish a communications corner somewhere in the facility and leave copies there – in a break room, cafeteria or by the door that employees use. Mail them home if that’s an option. Get your employee’s permission to send communications to their personal email.
Website / portal communications: Websites are an ideal place to house communications. You can create an employee communications section and house copies of all communications there. You can also add photos or videos from the events. Employees would know to check this page for news they may have missed. This area of the site should not be visible to the public.
Employee communications are just as important, arguably more important, than external communications. Your employees are your brand. The more they understand about your business and your priorities and the more engaged they feel, the better they’ll do their jobs. In a high-touch environment like healthcare, they are critical to your success.
If you feel you can improve your processes, sit down and map out a trial plan. Maybe establish a formal weekly communication methodology. Make it monthly if weekly seems too much. You can build an optimal plan over time. Ask employees how they need to hear from you and respond accordingly. Committing to improved communications demonstrates to employees that you value them
We’d love to hear about what works and doesn’t work in your agency. Email Stan Massey, the lead consultant for Transcend Strategy Group, at [email protected].