Positive Workplace Culture Is the Key to a Thriving Healthcare Organization

9 Feb 2022

It's no secret that people prefer working in companies where they feel happy, satisfied, and appreciated. Nobody wants a job that makes them feel bad, and with the world being more connected (and thus workers more open to international mobility), companies are fighting harder than ever to make sure their workplace culture helps with employee satisfaction and retention.

Why, more exactly, is a positive workplace culture such a fundamental element of a successful healthcare organization? And how to build this kind of organizational culture?

Read on and find out more.

What Is Workplace Culture?

In very brief terms, workplace culture is the set of values, norms, and beliefs that make up the way employees in a company interact with each other, with their managers, and so on. It's only when you understand the value of workplace culture that you may start building it right in your hospital, clinic, nursing home, or other healthcare organization.

A workplace culture cannot be enforced, nor can it be built on paper alone. Organizational cultures are as alive and as flexible as the people beyond it. Last, but definitely not least, building a workplace culture doesn't just happen overnight. It takes time, persistence, and dedication to build the kind of workplace people really appreciate and enjoy.

Key Elements of Workplace Culture

Building a workplace culture surely doesn't happen just like that, and just like in the case of building...anything, really, there are some "basics" to keep in mind. Here are the quintessential elements of a healthy (sturdy, solid, and scalable) workplace culture:

Foundational Values

Every workplace culture should be based on foundational values that are true for every single member of your organization. Whether you're part of a hospital, an insurance company, or any other kind of healthcare provider, the cultural values you build on should reflect the basic principles that make your healthcare organization tick.

Everything starts with finding out what those values are and making sure they define the way everybody does business.

Effective Leadership

You can't build a healthy organizational culture (within the healthcare industry or anywhere else) if you don't have effective leadership. Leadership is more than just managing people, after all. It's about being understood by them too. Leadership is about making sure that the path being walked upon selflessly serves the greater good of your organization simply because it's right to do so.

The best-case scenario would be if your leadership could grow with your healthcare organization - leaders who change as the organization changes, who grow as it does, and who end up being an organic part of that transformation.

Consistent Organizational Practices

If you want to have a positive work environment, you need to have consistent organizational practices. Everything from the way people communicate with each other all the way through job titles and compensation should be built upon clear, well-structured rules that are understood by everybody in your organization.

What's more important is that this consistency has to be reflected in how the employees within your organization communicate with each other. There can't be any double standards or "special cases", nor can there be processes that enable a lack of transparency between different departments.

Stable Day-To-Day Practices

While consistency is great, you shouldn't fall prey to rigidity. As your healthcare organization grows and changes (and has to adapt to new market demands), the day-to-day practices that allow it to function successfully should remain unchanged.

This doesn't mean you shouldn't be flexible; we're talking about bringing a sledgehammer to what is already working well. In other words, in order for your employee culture to be healthy, the day-to-day practices should not change too often - at least not without good reason.

Strong Community and Work Relationships

It's no secret that many of the healthcare professionals within a hospital or any other health-focused organization tend to have a rather difficult day-to-day routine. This is why it's so important to have strong community and work relationships in place - not just for those who are directly involved with patient care, but also for people in the management, service, and maintenance departments.

Why Workplace Culture Matters in Healthcare Today

Your job is to save lives. Regardless of whether you're a hospital administrator, manager, marketer working with healthcare companies, doctor, or any other member of a healthcare instutition's staff, your main goal is to help people be healthy.

Workplace culture might (understandably) not be on your list of priorities. And yet, it should be -- because healthy organizational cultures in healthcare companies foster better collaboration, better solutions, and better services for patients.

Here are two essential ideas you should keep in mind.

Healthcare Workplace Culture Is Not That Different from Corporate Workplace Culture

It really isn't. Sure, the fact that you work with people's lives might mean that there are certain things you have to keep in mind. But workplace culture is still a complex collection of shared values and beliefs - no matter what profession you're in.

In other words, healthy corporate work environments translate into healthy healthcare organizations too. The next step would be figuring out how exactly to foster the kind of healthcare workplace environment people feel comfortable growing and collaborating in.

Workplace Culture Is Important for Improving Patient Outcomes

As mentioned earlier, your main goal is to help patients. It's not to have fun at work or play ping-pong on your lunch break, obviously. But fostering the kind of healthcare workplace where people feel "at home" from a professional standpoint will, in fact, improve patient outcomes.

When your healthcare staff comes to work with a positive outlook, they can focus on putting their expertise where it's mostly needed: saving lives, instead of allowing their minds to wander about company policies that go against them, their beliefs, or the way they would like to see things done.

So, in order to make sure your hospital staff feel better and perform better, you need to promote a workplace culture that's more or less equally valued by all of them.

5 Steps for Building a Positive Culture in Your Healthcare Organization

As mentioned in the beginning of the article, building a positive culture in your healthcare organization isn't something you lay down on paper and let it sink among the thousands of procedures your organization is buried in.

It's something you actively work on -- day in, and day out -- and something around which you build your entire reputation as an employer.

Here are some essential steps you should take:

Focus on Core Values

What is it your organization tries to promote? A healthy lifestyle, making sure people are aware of the dangers of certain diseases, high-quality medical care for all? Think about that - and don't hesitate to create a long list if you need to. Then, discuss it with your staff and choose the ones that fit your organization best.

Lead by Example

Start by showcasing your core values in your everyday life. Make sure you're a role model for everyone within your organization. You can't ask people to take days off if you come in every Sunday even when you don't have to. You can't ask people to be gentle with their feedback when you aren't. You simply can't ask people to follow what you write in processes and "Core Company Values"-types-of-presentations, instead of what you actually do in your day to day life.

Ensure Consistency of Organizational Practices

This one might sound like the no-brainer of the year. But it really isn't - because most organizations fail at doing this (or doing it right, at least). Your organizational practices should, of course, be flexible (just think of what happened during the first COVID-19 outbreaks and you will definitely see the value in adjusting to different situations).

However, consistency is still key. Your organizational practices shouldn't change every other week. They should grow and adapt with your healthcare service, instead of rapidly switching to 180 degrees.

Improve Daily Employee Experience

Yes, we all know this one. But it's still worth mentioning: make sure your employees feel comfortable and confident working for you. Give them the tools they need to perform their jobs well and joyfully go about their daily business. One of the clearest ways of verifying that your employees enjoy coming to work each day is by simply asking them what, more exactly, would make them happy.

You'd be surprised, but in this day and age, there are solutions for pretty much everything -- from better coffee to hybrid work for employees who don't have to be on site every day.

Encourage Trust and Collaboration

No matter how involved your organization is, make sure you provide opportunities for employees to discuss with each other. Make sure they know they can trust one another -- and especially their managers.

This will lead to not just a more positive working culture - but also better results when it comes time to deal with difficult matters within the organization, such as layoffs.

At the end of the day, building a happier, more thriving culture in your healthcare organization is about creating a better life -- for yourself, for your employees, as well as for the patients who walk into your practice or hospital hoping they will find solutions and hope.

What do you think? Is a positive workplace culture essential for a successful healthcare organization? Do you have any tips that we might not have covered here?

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Topics: Office of the future, Human resources

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