May 17, 2024



Hospital Leadership Solutions to Cultivate Better Workforce Trust

By addressing your staff’s needs, your health system can cultivate a productive and motivated work environment that drives better patient outcomes.

Health systems are constantly battling various employee-related challenges, from chronic staff shortages to widespread burnout and career dissatisfaction. In fact, HR consulting firm Mercer estimates that over 6.5 million medical professionals will resign by 2026, leaving a gap that will further strain resources for hospitals and practices. Left unaddressed, these obstacles can worsen growing distrust and discontent among healthcare employees. Yet, in the face of these adversities, reestablishing trust and loyalty among your staff is possible—and necessary—to sustain workforce resilience. All it takes is some reflection from leadership, connection with your employees, and action from the top down.

Current Setbacks and Sentiments

Since the pandemic, workers have become increasingly vocal about issues such as pay, overwhelming workloads, and extended schedules, especially as labor shortages persist. According to a report from Definitive Healthcare, around 145,213 medical professionals left their jobs from 2021 to 2022, including 34,834 nurse practitioners, 13,714 physician assistants, and 71,309 doctors.

A leading reason for these departures is persistent burnout. Working in a high-stress environment like a hospital affects healthcare workers across job functions, even including non-clinical roles within medical institutions like janitorial and food service staff. A recent study led by Brigham and Women’s Hospital shows that 50% of respondents felt overworked, with nurses experiencing the highest levels of burnout. In that same study, around 41% of nurses, 33% of non-clinical staff, and 31% of medical staff wished to leave their current positions. A combination of pressing issues like administrative backlogs, lax organizational support, and overbearing schedules all contribute to prolonged burnout among healthcare staff nationwide. It’s also why disputes between labor unions and hospitals have recently increased, with Becker’s Hospital Review reporting at least 27 healthcare-specific strikes in 2023 alone.

When workforces have difficulty coping with the mental and physical load of their day-to-day tasks, it can be challenging to deliver high-quality care. Just as hospitals and practices prioritize the health of their patients, they should also consider the well-being of their staff. By advocating for their employees, health system leaders can instill workforce trust and help them feel empowered, supported, and ready to give their best.

Trust-Building Strategies for Health System Leaders

In a survey conducted by healthcare consultancy Jarrard Inc., less than half of physicians reported having strong trust that their organization’s leaders are honest and transparent. Although many health system executives spend a significant portion of their careers on the front lines with workers, the shift from a front-of-house position to a predominantly administrative one can shield them from the shifting dynamics and challenges their organization faces. This disconnect can leave leadership detached from their staff’s needs and pain points, which can negatively impact employee morale and, ultimately, the overall success and growth of the hospital or practice.

For example, employees who feel neglected will have little incentive to stay within the organization, leading to high turnover rates and potentially lackluster job performance. On the other hand, loyalty establishes a positive work culture that promotes collaboration, teamwork, and open communication among staff. As a result, these employees become motivated to provide the best service possible to their patients, including personalized care, heightened empathy, and exceptional bedside manner. In addition, this commitment helps health systems retain skilled employees, ensuring continuity in patient care. By building loyalty, organizations reduce turnover and save resources associated with hiring and training while increasing operational efficiency.

So, how can top health system leaders foster employee trust? Show your staff that you’re listening and willing to take necessary action—here’s how.

Emphasize Your Leadership Values

Be clear about relaying your organization’s values. Remind your staff about committing to improving clinical outcomes and building a culture of safety, inclusion, and respect. In turn, do the same for your team by listening to their concerns, actively working to resolve frictions, and reigniting their passion for healthcare. Throughout all of this, make sure to be as transparent as possible. Keep employees informed about practice decisions, changes, and opportunities for involvement, and encourage them to offer feedback and suggestions. Promoting inclusivity and candor creates a sense of ownership and trust for staff members, where patients are the ultimate beneficiaries.

Dive into Diversity Initiatives

Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) is not just a strategy to attract and retain patients—it should also extend internally. Take a quick look at your team: Is there a wide range of perspectives and insights that can help make internal decisions and processes more culturally competent? Do you have a diverse staff that can resonate with an equally diverse patient population? After all, a lack of representation can cause unconscious bias and create a communication gap that can mean poorer health outcomes for underrepresented communities. Think about ways to integrate unique voices in every aspect of your practice, from marketing materials and appointment guides to educational content about chronic conditions with higher risk factors in certain demographics. Your staff and patients will appreciate it.

Acknowledge Accomplishments

Recognition can go a long way in making your employees feel valued. For instance, when patients constantly praise a nurse for their attentiveness and empathy, or when you see a receptionist always answering patient questions with accuracy and agility, give them a shoutout and a token of appreciation. Having a team that earns accolades can also help patients and prospective talent feel more comfortable in choosing your health system or practice. A recent Healthgrades study found that 80% of Americans are more confident in seeking care at a hospital that has been recognized with a Quality Award for their procedure or condition.1 For potential new employees, awards can also signal an opportunity to join a nationally recognized team. For current staff members, it’s a reminder of the impact their life-saving work has on their community every day.

Invest in Digital Solutions

Make the most of what you already have with operational software that helps your team better prioritize direct patient care while reducing task loads. According to a recent study from McKinsey, implementing technology or an optimized care model can save up to 30% of a nurse’s 12-hour shift. For instance, artificial intelligence (AI) can automate repetitive and redundant tasks, such as deploying appointment reminders, organizing and updating patient data, and responding to commonly asked questions. In fact, research from Harvard University and McKinsey suggests that broader adoption of the tool can save the healthcare industry up to $360 billion annually.

Medchat, in partnership with Healthgrades, is one example of an AI-powered platform designed to help overburdened health systems do more with fewer resources. Medchat automates manual operational tasks and clinical communication workflows across all facets of the care continuum, freeing staff to focus on high-value responsibilities. Medchat’s platform offers customizable HIPAA-compliant experiences, seamlessly adapting to emerging technologies and evolving needs without requiring downtime or IT resources. It’s one way your hospital or practice can ease workloads and lift a significant weight off your team’s shoulders.

Cultivate a Culture of Trust with Healthgrades

You’ve worked hard to build a culture you’re proud of. Let us help you keep that momentum going. Partner with Healthgrades to ease staff burden, promote your accomplishments, and sustain employee trust and loyalty. 

The Healthgrades Hospital Quality Team can help you distinguish your health system from competitors and build trust—with both staff and patients. Healthgrades evaluates hospital quality for conditions and procedures based solely on clinical outcomes to help consumers understand, compare, and evaluate hospital performance. With Healthgrades licensed quality awards on your hospital’s page, potential patients can feel confident they’re choosing the best care, and employees can feel proud to be part of your organization.

As mentioned, Healthgrades and Medchat have also partnered to offer Medchat for Health Systems & Practices, an AI-powered healthcare solution that automates complex communications and workflows. With Medchat’s customizable, HIPAA-compliant platform, your organization can:

  • Automate any manual operational tasks and clinical communication workflows across all facets of the care continuum, freeing your staff to focus on high-value activities.
  • Resolve operational bottlenecks across your organization while avoiding high development costs with open architecture technology using APIs that easily integrate with or complement existing tech stacks and systems without disruption.
  • Handle complex conversations with cutting-edge Generative AI using Large Language Models (LLM).
  • Measure operational improvements and ROI with custom dashboards for immediate visibility into critical metrics.
  • Enhance the healthcare experience with tailored solutions, addressing patient access, wait times, claims processes, staff burnout, and more.

Chat with us today and learn how to take the first step towards building team trust with Healthgrades.

1. Healthgrades Research, n=1202, December 2023.