Organizational Changes in Health Care: Bringing Employees Along on the Journey

Today, the one constant in health care is change. Mergers, acquisitions, new ways of working and changing patient expectations have led health care systems to change the way they are organized, operate and provide patient care.

Enacting organization-wide changes can be daunting to the very people who are charged with making them work: employees. And when employees don’t understand or support the changes, patient care can suffer. Click To Tweet

Thoughtful, targeted and timely employee communications can go a long way to helping employees enact and embrace major health care system changes. The following tips will help to make the journey smoother for employees – and for patients.

Communicate with employees early and often

Rumors about pending changes spread like wildfire, leading to employee churn and often, unfounded fears that disrupt productivity and patient care. Commit to sharing information with employees quickly and frequently. Rumors can be put to rest quickly, and when employees learn that the organization is sharing information rather than withholding it, they will be less likely to spread rumors or assume the worst.

Clearly define organizational changes

Start with the big picture. Then, share the steps that you’ll take to get to the end goal. When employees understand where the organization is going – and how it will get there – employees will be more willing to be a partner in the journey.

Explain the why

It’s important that employees understand the why behind the changes. Provide industry context along with specifics about your health system. Employees want to know that operational and other changes weren’t made on a whim, but instead were given thoughtful consideration and included input from experts who employees respect. Sharing the why goes a long way in helping employees to accept the changes, even if they don’t agree with them.

Make employees part of the solution

If you’ve done well keeping employees abreast of these changes, you have painted a vivid picture of where you want the health system to go. With this information, encourage employees to identify how they can help your system move toward that goal. The deeper understanding they have of their role, the more engaged and supportive they’ll be of the process. 

Identify change ambassadors

In every organization, there are employees who are natural leaders, no matter what their level or job function. Their peers respect them and often are willing to follow their lead. These employees can be a valuable resource in guiding and helping their co-workers adapt to change. Bring these leaders and other managers into the fold to help smooth the transition and clearly explain – from an employee perspective – what the changes will mean for them, and how they will positively impact the employee experience as well as patient care.

Listen, watch and learn

Listen to your employees. Pay attention to how they are responding to the changes, what messages are resonating most with them and which communication methods are the most effective. Use what you’ve learned to adjust your messaging and approach in real-time, and you’ll demonstrate that you have their best interests in mind.

Employees are the face of a health system, so helping them become change agents rather than change roadblocks will go a long way in making organizational change a smoother journey.

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