Exceptional employee experiences: The prevention and the cure

Posted on 26/02/2021 by vmwareemeasmt

Jens Koegler, Healthcare Industry Director EMEA

There is no doubt that healthcare employees are being asked to do more with less. Cuts to funding loom large over hospitals while operating costs continue to rise. This is set in an environment where new rules, regulations, and legislation make delivering on the finer details of patient’s experience taxing for professionals.

We also saw 2020 skewed with the impact of Covid-19. Routine appointments were delayed as clinicians tried to control footfall in and out of hospitals and staff at all levels shifted around to address the fluctuating situation. Yet doctors, nurses, technicians, and all other manner of healthcare employees, are still expected to deliver quality care experiences that delight, rather than simply satisfy patients.

Hopefully later this Spring and summer, we’ll see a focus of returning operations to as close to normal as possible and continuing the projects that were in progress pre-crisis. This means things like building of new infrastructure environments or upgrading old systems to meet customer needs across all segments and geographies. Delivering exceptional employee experiences will be critical to this.

Employee burnout

One study suggests clinicians spend more than 20 hours a week on admin – a situation described as ‘mind-boggling’. Common activities, like looking at labs, verifying results, and sending tasks to nurses might take 15 clicks of a physician’s time but before that happens, even checking patients in can require access to multiple systems. Doctors and nurses don’t spend their lives behind desks and many critical systems aren’t yet mobile-friendly. Coupled with emotional demands, it’s no wonder physicians burn out at double the rate of other workers. 

A study from the American Medical Association (AMA) found 54.4% of healthcare providers demonstrated signs of burnout. The highest burnout rates were found in the emergency medicine, urology, physical medicine and rehabilitation, family medicine, and radiology specialties. Notably, a separate study found 45% of primary care physicians say that if they could afford to quit, they would.

Delivering exceptional employee experiences is arguably even more acute for the healthcare sector at a time when countries around the world are looking to hire more staff in the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic – 50,000 in both UK and Germany and 100,000 in Austria are notable European examples. This is also happening in the backdrop of an aging demographic time bomb with both the broader populus and the healthcare workers that serve them getting older. More staff will be needed to fill the gaps so both the short- and long-term prognosis for healthcare workers needs addressing.

Ultimately, if the healthcare workforce is to continue to carry out the vital role, they are playing both through this pandemic and in the long-term, their mental, emotional and physical health must be at the centre of action to support them. In the UK in particular, this is the subject of a soon to be released report from Wieconomics called ‘caring for the NHS workforce’.  It’s clear that something has to be done in order to ensure the right environments and tools are provided to allow healthcare employees to thrive, and thus the patients in them. But who is driving this change? It’s a question we’ve looked at in great detail as part of our Digital Employee Experience research, which uncovers what is meant by the digital employee experience and how it can impact the healthcare sector.

Charting a clear path to success

The research draws a clear line between delivering exceptional employee experiences and company performance. In fact, high growth/hypergrowth organisations are nearly twice as likely to have more digital employee experience factors (6.3) than underperforming/not growing companies (3.9). A simple example of this is enabling employees to have access to the right applications on any device for their three most important tasks. Something that is prevalent in 93% high growth companies versus only 47% of those that are underperforming.

The impact of delivering exceptional experiences to employees also filters into the recruitment chain. This is critical in a tight talent market.Giving employees a choice about their digital experience, and providing them with the tools, technologies and applications they need to perform well increases their likelihood of them recommending their organisation to others. The data found that two thirds of employees report the flexibility of digital tools required for work, would influence their decision to apply for or accept a position at a company. This is backed-up by a separate Vanson Bourne study in 2019 that found 66% employees across EMEA say the flexibility of digital tools required for work would influence their decision to apply for or accept a position at a company.

While the majority of healthcare employees agree digital employee experience projects are rising in priority – 45% say over the last 12 months employee experience projects were a priority and 56% say they will be more of a priority in the next 12 months – challenges exist. Most notably on where the responsibility lies to imbue the changes required.

The driving force of change

Although employees believe IT could do more, the research uncovered a clear perception gap when it comes to employee experiences. While95% of senior IT decision makers believe they provide employees with the digital tools they need in order to be successful in their job, only 41% of employees would concur. Similarly, a further 83% of those in IT believe that they give employees a voice when it comes to which digital technologies they can use at work compared to 63% of employees.

Almost half of the employees surveyed, do not know if they should approach HR or IT about their experience. Only 21% report HR and IT collaborate all of the time but 87% are calling for them to work better together. Respondents across EMEA want HR to play a bigger role in providing digital employee experience, but it’s important that HR staff work alongside IT on initiatives — given they’re most likely to be the best two departments cited to manage it.

The digital workspace

Those leaders who are already committed to improving the employee experience because they recognise the positive impact it has on business growth, morale and attracting new talent, are adopting the digital workspace approach. This is because the ‘five-day week,’ working on company-owned devices with multiple apps and complicated passwords is simply no longer a reality as the Covid-induced working from home trend looks set to continue in some capacity for a considerable period. Busy healthcare professionals shouldn’t be bogged down with these conflicts.

A digital workplace strategy solves the paradox businesses face: employee choice and freedom versus the security of the organisation. It enables organisations such as healthcare providers to securely manage multiple devices and applications while delivering exceptional employee experiences in a cost effective and protected manner. At the same time, it is helping organisations attract, engage and retain employees to optimise competitiveness and resiliency.

Unleashing and empowering employees

Digital transformation efforts in healthcare must address the employee experience of both clinical and non-clinical staff or they will fail. The advent of new digital technology puts IT leaders in the driver’s seat to help revolutionise healthcare as we know it. But the true potential of healthcare IT transformation lies in unleashing and empowering both clinical and non-clinical staff to do their best work and deliver better patient experiences – during normal operation and disrupted times.

With the help of trusted partners like VMware, healthcare organisations will jumpstart the boosting of customer experience that begins with better apps and ends in higher patient satisfaction – even in times of uncertainty.

Discover the latest report from Vanson Bourne here. For more information on how VMware can support your journey to delivering exceptional employee experiences in healthcare, please contact us here.

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