Employee Engagement a Must for Creating the Client Experience

My dad has had a rough 12 months, having endured two different falls in seven months creating the need for two hospitalizations, followed by lengthy rehab stints at a transitional care center. I made frequent trips to Florida to monitor his progress firsthand. Admittedly, headlines about elder abuse, neglect, and substandard care at transitional and skilled nursing facilities worried me as they do others who are concerned about their aging parent(s).

So I feel extremely fortunate that the entire staff (nursing, dining, therapy, housekeeping, social services, dietetic teams) at the rehab facility was amazing! The patience, compassion, kindness, and warmth they extend to patients, patients’ families, and each other is exceptional. They strive to communicate what is happening and why, and proactively take care of issues that arise.

Stirring patient/client experience

As a practitioner in creating engaged environments, I was impressed with my dad’s care facility. Therefore, I’m sharing some of the elements that forged this extraordinary patient experience in case you’re interested in translating them to strengthen your organization’s client experience:

  • Tailored menu options beyond standard diabetic fare, so diabetics like my dad can enjoy their preferences in a healthy way.
  • Therapy program that extends beyond steadiness and strength in the gym, so my dad can walk outside and navigate stairs, exceeding typical therapy standards for recovery.
  • An activities coordinator actively helps my dad find a group interested in a serious game of Bridge, which will elevate my dad’s outlook for the day.
  • Comprehensive communication through care calls with all the professionals who work on my dad’s care; discussions with my dad, me, and my two siblings about progress updates and planning a successful discharge back home; coordinating three time zones.
  • Occupational therapists help my dad learn new ways to accomplish daily tasks with diminished range of motion, including demonstration, assistance, and patient practice to ensure mastery.
  • Collaboration between senior and less experienced professionals ensures high standard of care that results in a successful transition.

Shaping a culture of employee and client success

Engagement is not a happy accident, especially the level of employee engagement I observed where my dad rehabbed. What’s more, our experience attests to the need for employee engagement to ensure client (patient) engagement. Proud of the facility’s evolvement, the associate director was more than happy to share their backstory.

Two years ago the facility adopted a philosophy that team members come first. If team members are not well cared for, they can’t (or won’t) deliver high-level care and services to patients. To bring this philosophy to life the organization reinvested in staff and creating internal teams:

  • A Culture Committee dedicated to developing opportunities for team growth was formed with a cross-section of front line employees, managers, and leaders across all departments.
    • Members serve a one-year term and cycle off to allow others the opportunity to serve, which strengthens their commitment to excellence.
    • The committee developed a coaching system to help employees grow, so they can promote from within. Employees are presented opportunities to grow into other roles in the organization.
  • Communication and recognition increased dramatically across the organization.
    • Department huddles are conducted regularly.
    • “Caught You Living Life” cards provide team members and patients opportunities to recognize someone for an action that embodies the philosophy of the organization.
    • Mandatory quarterly town hall meetings recognize good work, share changes in the organization, and celebrate successes (includes safety, difficult patient cases that have successfully concluded, etc.).
    • Frequent communication with patients and their families—monthly care conference calls from the whole team, daily communication with the patient, family or both.
    • Focus on creating a client community. Example: The activities director personally stops by patient rooms to invite and encourage them to participate in activities such as concerts, movies, speakers, playing cards.
  • A consistent onboarding process for all new hires, consistent for everyone from the C-suite to housekeeping staff, was developed to provide a consistent foundation for cultural success.
    • Initial two-day new employee training.
    • Reinforcement training 21 days later (it takes 21 days to create a habit).
    • Refresher training one year later.

My two cents

Here are additional points to keep in mind in transferring these steps to your own client experiences:

  • Communication
    • Use multiple channels—face-to-face, email, video chat, and even snail mail.
    • Preserve clarity by eliminating internal jargon and acronyms.
    • Consistent content (messages), scheduled for regular and frequent delivery.
  • Authenticity
    • Clients are people first, so treat them as people. Know your client beyond the direct work you do together—who they are and what drives them beyond their professional life—and incorporate this information into your relationship.
    • Meet clients where they are. Be sensitive to changes in their circumstances, pressures, mood, etc. As attitudes change, look for additional opportunities to engage.
  • Recognition
    • Your client’s have choices. What ever product or service you provide there  are others providing similar. Actively and authentically thank your clients for their trust and confidence in your work.
    • Recognition should come through multiple communication channels, multiple times in a year. Ideas include: sharing a meal, a hand written thank you note, a meaningful gift, etc.

Hats off to the certified nursing assistants (CNAs) at Harbour’s Edge. You have one of the most difficult and important jobs on the planet. Thank you for your kindness, compassion and expertise. Your dedication breeds great appreciation and respect for what you do.

And hats off to Harbour’s Edge leaders for their vision in recognizing that an engaged team is inextricably linked to creating engaged patients whose outcomes are reflected in shorter, less costly rehabilitation and easier transitions to independent living.

Not sure if your client experience is up to snuff? Take our assessment.

If this is the kind of client experience you want to create, let’s start a conversation about how we can help.

Toll free: 800-742-6800 In Minneapolis/St. Paul: 952-933-8365 email: Hillary@askhillarys.com