4 Factors to Optimizing Organizational Culture in the Healthcare Industry

Undoubtedly, the hospitals, clinics, and other health facilities are as diverse as they come.  A careful examination of most staff rosters will reveal individuals of varying ethnicities, nationalities, and religious beliefs.  More differences become obvious upon close interaction.  These diversities, especially as they shape and are shaped by different modes by which face-value phenomena are epistemically approached, can serve as potential grounds for miscommunication and conflict that negatively impact patient care quality.  This is why organizational culture is of the utmost importance in today’s healthcare facilities.

Organizational culture is the sum total of standards and values that define a workplace.  Previously overlooked by many, it is now deemed an extremely important component of the work environment.  According to Glassdoor, up to 77% of applicants consider organizational culture in their decision-making when joining an organization.  Furthermore, 56% consider organizational culture more important than the salary offered.  These facts – particularly the second one – capture the increasing importance of workplace culture in this age.

Why is organizational culture important in the healthcare industry?

A healthy organizational culture is one that fosters harmonious relationships, embraces diversity, and creates a sense of community oriented toward a mission.  The benefits of such a work environment are fairly obvious.  Healthcare facilities with a positive culture will attract and retain the best minds.  Additionally, staff members will experience higher satisfaction and improved productivity.  Values such as honesty, cooperation, and respect become a normalized constant workplace feature.

In addition, there will be a tangible boost in performances all around.  The patients will be direct beneficiaries as they will experience better healthcare delivery.  A positive organizational culture is extremely desirable.  Thus, every healthcare center must work towards creating this.

What are some of the steps to creating a healthy organizational culture?

Before going into the steps of creating a robust organizational culture, it’s important first to define the governing features and values toward which an organizational culture ought to orient itself toward.  Only after clearly outlining the contours of an organizational culture and expectations for team members therein can concrete steps be taken to set things in motion. This article will look at four important directions to build an organizational culture in the healthcare industry:

Employee orientation

New employees must be taught what the mission, vision, and values of the organization are from the start.  Recruits must be given the best first impressions of their co-workers and workplace, and by “best” we mean true-to-life impressions that actually encapsulate the cultural realities within an organization.  False pretension doesn’t do anyone any good and only leads to ultimate attrition.  Therefore, a positive organizational culture will naturally yield positive orientations and impressions on new hires. 

It’s important to engage new hires in stimulating training programs that explain what is obtainable in your healthcare facility and the standards they will be expected to maintain.  Herein, establishing a culture accountable to realistic KPIs is vital.  It’s also important to encourage existing staff members to give a warm welcome to the new hire during their first few days.  Ask your existing team to give a fair, not overhyped, evaluation of their workplace experiences to the new hire; by doing this, you naturally build trust with the new hire while further solidifying your existing team’s trust in you.  Assign senior staff members to function as mentors to quicken the integration of recent hires.

Team-building activities

If you want workers to be committed to the organization’s cause, they need to feel like an integral part of a team.  Hence, discourage the perception of isolation and improve connection by promoting esprit de corps.  There are several ways to improve teamwork among healthcare staff.  Social gatherings are great opportunities to forge a relationship.  Hence, take advantage of birthdays and holidays to play team-building games and allow employees to interact in relaxed settings.

Constant communication

The quality of communication is integral to the organizational culture.  Top-level staff must make it a duty to communicate with their direct reports regularly.  This can be achieved through physical and virtual meetings during which important patient information and operational challenges/solutions can also be exchanged.  More personable 1:1 meetings that are consistently held on a weekly basis between a leader and his/her direct reports can also give each staff member the opportunity to relay the challenges they are facing and issue their ideas/solutions without going unheard.    Communication is only effective when it is two-way. Therefore, channels for junior staff to speak their minds with clarity must also be open at all times.

Exemplary leadership

Who better embodies the desired values and standards than the organization’s leaders? Save yourself thousands of words by showing the employees what is expected of them instead of telling.  Rather than living above the law, stick to the same code of conduct that guides employees.  Such behavior leaves them with little choice but to emulate your actions.  This way, organizational culture is built faster and the tone and expectations are demonstrably clear.

In sum, building the right organizational culture is integral to productivity in the healthcare industry. Following the suggestions listed above will help create a workplace atmosphere that both medical personnel and patients will enjoy.