Featuring: Susan Milligan | Director, Patient Experience
More so than surveys and individual conversations, Employee Advisory Groups (EAGs — employee representatives who come together to discuss and implement changes — can make employees feel like they are truly taking part in the execution of changes that will affect their jobs. They can also increase morale and improve job satisfaction. They allow different departments to come together to discuss issues that matter to them and why. Together, the group can focus on what seems to have the most widespread effect and develop the best approach to proposing and negotiating changes with leadership.
When forming an EAG, leaders should:
1. Discuss the formation of the group including the purpose and who should volunteer.
- Include representatives from all departments and shifts, while keeping the group small.
- Create a name and mission statement so members feel connected to the group’s purpose.
2. Provide regular coaching and development for the team.
- Attend but don’t lead. Leaders should participate, endorse decisions and explain the “why” behind what can’t be done.
- Identify specific, measurable goals.
- Review the results of the employee engagement survey and establish focused priorities for action.
3. Establish a chain of command for decision making.
- Ask members to consult widely with colleagues to understand root causes and solicit ideas for solutions.
- Put the members in charge of implementing action plans.
- Clarify the extent or limits of authority, keeping in mind the group must have some decision-making authority.
4. Focus on conquering two challenges: morale and operational processes.
Ask questions such as:
- How can the work environment be improved, making it fun and enjoyable?
- How can workflows be improved to make day-to-day functions more efficient/effective?
- How can peers and patients best be supported?
- What tools or resources are needed?
Giving employees a voice and the ability to contribute to organizational decision-making is a proven method of driving employee engagement.
An advisory group needs regular guidance from its leadership sponsor to be sure they are staying on task and tackling problems with realistic solutions. EAGs can make employees feel engaged, but also present opinions and ideas for solutions that may not have been on leadership’s radar. Perhaps the best part of EAGs is they have a low bar of entry and require little to no financial resources.
Even the singular step of creating and effectively overseeing an EAG is likely to have a significantly positive impact on employee engagement, morale and overall company culture.
Susan Milligan, CHAM, CRCR, is the patient experience director for Ensemble Health Partners. Informed by her experiences in healthcare and as the mother of a child with Down syndrome, she is passionate about helping healthcare organizations improve their patient experience through empathy, empowerment and engagement.
These materials are for general informational purposes only. These materials do not, and are not intended to, constitute legal or compliance advice, and you should not act or refrain from acting based on any information provided in these materials. Neither Ensemble Health Partners, nor any of its employees, are your lawyers. Please consult with your own legal counsel or compliance professional regarding specific legal or compliance questions you have.