By Whitney Melcher, CRCR Manager, Client Associate Experience, Ensemble Health Partners and Cody Niese, MBA, CRCR Talent Management Specialist, Engagement & Associate Experience, Ensemble Health Partners
Enhancing the associate experience requires revenue cycle organizations to be vulnerable, transparent, and collaborative with all levels of associates. This starts with your front-line workforce and is complimented by the values of your organization. Start with understanding that the associate experience is not a singular factor, it is a multitude of different dimensions that play an important role in associate engagement. We’re breaking down five steps you and your company can take now to be the difference, drive positive associate engagement, and achieve exceptional organizational results.
1. Build Relationships:
Creating a foundation in which your associates have direct access to senior leaders is a crucial first step to enhance the associate experience. This step helps build relationships, trust, accessibility, transparency, and humanizes not only your most senior leadership* but your mid-level leaders including supervisors, managers and directors. This group of leadership is the key to success of your organization. By building this foundation, your associates are more comfortable and inclined to participate, promote, and provide feedback to improve the associate experience.
By putting people first, last, and always, allows the associates to be at the center of the relationship with the organization. Relationship building can happen in more ways than one. What’s important is to ensure the associates are in a comfortable mindset to be candid with all levels of your leadership team. Putting programs in place to help foster relationship building with associates is a crucial first step. Here are some tips when building programs:
Humanize and Access
- Develop a way to bring the associates into the leader’s home to share family recipes and family memories. Share hobbies and interests of your leaders with your associates.
Transparency and Trust
- Coffee Talks with Senior Leadership to help associates navigate their career journey
- Lunch with a Side of Leadership, having candid conversations with associates while eating lunch together. This program further promotes a culture of access and trust.
2. Listen to Associates:
The next most important step in building a foundation of great associate engagement is surveying. Asking your associates to speak up is not only important but necessary. You must create a culture of surveying and educate the associates on its importance. Explain to the associates why it’s important to hear from them. Empowering them to have a voice, will give your organization the advantage. Surveying is not just for the associates; it benefits the organization as well. By letting the data drive your decisions, empowers the associates to share celebrations and areas of opportunities. It allows you understand what associates need at that point in time which allows leadership to drive action to support the needs of the associates. Teaching your associates to not accept complacency and that the status quo isn’t good enough allows you to continuously strive for excellence by leveraging your associate insights.
Establishing clear listening strategies creates opportunities to understand current points in time from an organization while also understanding points in time from the associate experience. Creating an experience management system will allow your organization the ability to create internal benchmarks and bridging metrics through other surveys.
Creating a Culture
- Have an annual engagement survey to drive consistency providing clear paths to allow associates to speak up and share what is going well and where your organization can improve.
Investing in the Associate Life Cycle
- Develop associate life cycle surveys from onboarding, to retention, to separation to help your organization better understand key focus areas related to their experience.
Open and honest communication is crucial, but it must be timely as data is a point in time. Not only sharing the data, but why it’s important will allow the associates to understand the process, help drive action, and commit to positive change within the organization. Sharing data with all levels of leadership from executives to associates shows leadership values the feedback shared and is focused on the betterment of the organization. Creating a transparent environment at all levels shows your organization is in an All for One and One for All mindset.
By sharing results, discussing action plans, and creating timelines shows the associates the organization is committed to providing the best associate experience. It also demonstrates senior leadership is committed to driving positive change by celebrating strengths and identifying opportunities.
Commitment to the Process
- Create a diverse range of communication platforms to share your progress and status updates from monthly impact videos, town hall forums, to one-on-one meetings.
Open Lines of Communication
- To help continue to conversation with senior leaders develop open lines of communication. This creates a transparent environment and builds trust. You can do this by creating a platform for associates to have direct communication with your most senior leaders.
4. Associate Partnership:
The buy in of your associates will help fuel innovative ideas from your associates and further extends transparency. This shows the organization wants to collaborate and invest in the associate experience. This should be at the core of your DNA when driving engagement. Ensuring associates know their responsibility extends beyond their job description will provide associate commitment to the process.
Include the associates in key decision-making processes that fuel engagement. Empower them to share innovative ideas. Your programs can be created directly from associate feedback from your engagement survey
- Ask your associates questions to identify opportunities within your organization and the associate experience.
- Develop programs where associates can share ideas, let them be part of innovation planning and decision making
- Promote an inclusive work environment to incorporate associates into the process, showing their value to the organization. Use creative solutions powered by the ideas of your associates to bring their ideas to the forefront.
5. Drive Action:
Driving action may be the last step when enhancing the associate experience but its arguably the most important. Lack of action post survey and associate partnership can cause disengagement within the organization. Associates will tell you what they want, as leaders, you must listen. By developing programs associates are asking for, you can boost engagement and reduce turnover. This also shows you have the associates best interest at heart, by developing Your associates which in turn makes the company better.
Developing programs based on the data gathered will show you are listening. By developing programs the associates are asking for, you are driving the action needed to boost engagement. Create an action plan with focus areas in mind based on the data from the survey. It’s important to not only focus on operational development but also creating programs that focus on associate wellbeing.
Build Programs with Associates in Mind
- Wellbeing programs can help build social engagement that focuses on mind, body, spirit. Build programs that motivate your associates, key motivators include reward, recognition, since of belonging, and more!
Continue the Conversation
- The conversation does not just stop here, plan pulse checks with associates to understand how the organization is doing to drive positive change. With pulse checks, you can ask yourself, what do we want to stop, start, and continue to create that world class culture for your organization.
Here at Ensemble Health Partners, we focused efforts and energy on these five steps which have helped enhance our associates experience. It’s important to remember, your associate feedback is a point in time, but your action planning is an ongoing process. Building relationships, having transparent communication, listening and partnering with your associates, and driving action will help you enhance your associate experience and empower them to them to be the difference.
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. Please consult with your own legal counsel or compliance professional regards specific legal or compliance questions you have.