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Editorial Spotlight | Feb 2016

Improve Your Practice’s Culture With Employee Satisfaction Surveys

Staff members are vital to patient satisfaction and deserve a voice in how a practice is run.

We have all heard the saying, “The most valuable asset of any business is its people.” In eye care practices, we understand the importance of our employees because our staff is an extension of our physicians. Patients relate the customer service they receive from employees to the medical treatment they receive from physicians. We also know that our employees are important because they are typically our largest expense, especially when the costs of salaries and benefits are considered.

AT A GLANCE

• Patients relate the customer service they receive from employees to the medical treatment they receive from physicians.

• Without a team of trained and engaged employees, practices can experience issues that negatively affect patient care, including high employee turnover,low staff morale, lack of efficiency, poor patient satisfaction, and clinical mistakes.

• By giving employees an opportunity to share their opinions and concerns via an employee satisfaction survey, the practice can take steps to improve its culture.

Without a team of trained and engaged employees, practices can experience many issues that can negatively affect patient care, including high employee turnover, low staff morale, lack of efficiency, poor patient satisfaction, and clinical mistakes. To help make the most of their investment in employees, practices need to know what is important to those employees and give them a voice to influence their work environment.

To better understand the needs of employees, practices should consider conducting employee satisfaction surveys. By giving employees an opportunity to share their opinions and concerns, the practice can take steps to improve its culture.

When implementing an employee satisfaction survey, practices should consider the following tips.

NO. 1: HIRE A THIRD-PARTY VENDOR

Although the practice could internally conduct its own employee satisfaction survey, employees are more likely to provide more honest feedback when they can do so anonymously. In selecting a vendor, find a survey program that will allow employees to submit their opinions online and then will collate a report for the practice.

NO. 2: REVIEW AREAS OF CONCERN

When designing the survey questions with your vendor, make sure that the questions explore the following critical areas:

  • Positions and responsibilities. Focus on helping the practice understand how satisfied employees are with their day-to-day work and whether they feel that the practice supports their development.
  • Compensation and benefits. Focus on helping the practice understand overall employee satisfaction with the salaries and benefits offered.
  • Work environment. Focus on staff morale and working relationships around the practice.
  • Practice operations. Focus on how operations positively or negatively affect employee morale.

NO. 3: BE OPEN TO FEEDBACK

After receiving feedback from employees, the practice will have a much clearer idea of the employees’ perception of the practice. If the practice scores negatively in a particular area, the practice must honestly assess the employees’ opinions. Although the first instinct may be to be defensive, physicians and practice managers must remember that the results are meant to help improve the practice’s relationship with its staff.

NO. 4: SHARE THE RESULTS

After reviewing the results of the survey, provide feedback to the leadership team and staff. Discuss key findings, and use the survey as an opportunity to shape staff development and provide insights at strategic planning discussions.

NO. 5: CREATE AN ACTION PLAN

Once the results have been reviewed, select two or three areas for the practice to focus on improving. Develop an action plan with physicians and leadership to outline goals for how the practice can plan to improve.

NO. 6: DEMONSTRATE COMMITMENT

Once the action plan has been developed, practice leadership must follow through with the goals and provide feedback to employees.

SUMMARY

When approached with honesty and transparency, employee satisfaction surveys can be excellent tools for practice improvement. By understanding what is important to the staff, physicians and practice leadership can help create a positive culture that allows employees to focus on patients. If a practice has not conducted an employee satisfaction survey in the past 12 months, the practice should commit to the process, develop the plan, and implement it.

Elizabeth Holloway, COE, CPSS, PHR
• Senior Consultant, BSM Consulting, Trinity, Florida
eholloway@bsmconsulting.com
• Financial disclosure: None

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