No one wants to win the competition for being the most stressed out at work. But there’s a good chance this year’s prize would go to healthcare leaders. 

If you’re part of this supremely challenged, highly dedicated club, you’ve likely been battling COVID-19 while coping with budget woes, managing staff flux, and caring deeply about employee engagement for your exhausted teams. 

“Even pre-COVID-19, leaders were challenged by severe shortages in nurses and other clinical talent,” points out Zainab Hayat, Program Director with Worldwide Business Research

During a recent HR roundtable on business resilience, Hayat heard from leaders tackling an avalanche of dilemmas, from how to help parents with kids in online school to grappling with resentment in teams newly split between the frontlines and working from home. 

Within this time of crisis, many leaders are reaching for new ways to harness human ingenuity to improve their organizations and the care they provide. Here are three insights to feed those efforts.

1. People-centric leadership is an opportunity and an obligation.

In a world that has been shaken to its core by a global pandemic, people-centric leadership is an essential way of thinking. People-centric leaders rely on compassion, emotional intelligence, and a growth mindset. They possess vision and determination to champion significant innovation and inspire others to join in.

Above all, they know that excellence and innovation rely on engaged employees who bring their best selves to work in order to do their best work. 

A new framework, known as People Success, helps organizations build cultures that support this notion. People Success is a call to action for the disciplines within human resources—such as employee engagement, performance, and learning and development—to stop operating in silos. Instead, the framework helps leaders work together to inspire high-performance culture and empower every employee to be happier and more successful. 

“The People Success framework represents a much-needed opportunity for the healthcare industry,” says Jason Thomas, a People Science senior consultant for Glint. “With an estimated 11.6 million healthcare workers needed by 2026 to fill jobs in the U.S. alone, it’s more important than ever to enable every person to do their best work.”

2. Agile employee engagement is critical for organizational success.

If excellence and innovation start with people, it becomes critically important to know how your people are doing. Are they engaged, burned out, or somewhere in between? 

Engaged employees feel a sense of purpose that drives their commitment to quality patient care and helps your organization achieve its most audacious goals. Engaged employees also speak up about challenges, and they’re deeply invested in better outcomes.

Unfortunately, some organizations still measure employee engagement with older methods, such as a single annual survey with extensive analysis that requires considerable time and outside expertise.

Modern survey tools can deliver more rapid and actionable insights. They also employ advanced technologies, such as narrative intelligence, to uncover high-impact trends.

Agile employee engagement also means:

  • Sharing feedback more frequently. 
  • Reducing the time between feedback and action. 
  • Focusing on high-impact action plans.

“An agile approach ensures you can keep a constant pulse on how care providers are doing,” Thomas says. “Real-time data helps organizations make better and faster decisions. Surveys aren’t just surveys—they’re check-ins to help employees feel cared for and supported.”

3. Learning is a powerful driver for employee engagement.

A changing world demands constant learning. The good news is that learning doesn’t get in the way of high-performing people and teams. In fact, learning feeds engagement.

Glint research has shown that, compared to their peers, people who see good opportunities to learn and grow at their organization are:

  • 3.6 times more likely to report being happy;
  • 3.5 times more likely to report they believe their organization can help them meet their career goals; and
  • 2.9 times more likely to report they expect they’ll still be with the organization in two years.

The takeaway is compelling: an organization’s learning and development and employee engagement strategies can have even more impact when working together.

Acting on the 3 insights—one step at a time

Chances are good that these three insights do not come as a surprise. Most healthcare leaders already lead with big hearts and intuitively understand the value of people-driven leadership. 

You probably can also clearly see some of the hurdles that stand in the way of a more holistic and integrated people strategy. Spearheading simplicity in a complex system can be a daunting undertaking.

This leads to a final word of advice: in order to think big, start small. A single step can propel you and your organization in the right direction starting today.

For more tips and guidance, download the People Success Toolkit: Healthcare Workers.