Focusing on Employee Satisfaction Improvement

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Focusing on Employee Satisfaction Improvement


by Michael Maas | May 27, 2019

Measuring customer satisfaction is now routine at just about every echelon of the marketplace. Whether finishing a one-click purchase with Amazon or picking up dry cleaning at the downtown mom and pop shop, being asked to complete a short survey to rate your experience no longer surprises anyone. Direct customer feedback is invaluable for making informed decisions on where to spend investment dollars and how to optimize resource allocation. However, more and more companies are becoming aware that a sole focus on the customer is missing a key piece of the equation – the satisfaction of employees.

A recent study by CFI Group illustrates the connection between employee and customer satisfaction and the importance of prioritizing workplace culture in order to positively influence the customer experience. CFI Group administered surveys to both employees and residents (customers) of a skilled nursing center across its nine locations. The Resident Satisfaction Survey gauged the performance of key aspects of the resident experience with the facility, including:

  • Nursing Care
  • Admissions Process
  • Amenities
  • Food Services

Using the patented American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) methodology, Nursing Care was identified as being the most influential driver of resident satisfaction. In other words, the direct care provided by nursing staff had the most leverage in moving the needle of satisfaction (in either direction). It was important to residents that the individuals providing their care did so in a manner that was specific to their needs, exhibited strong medical knowledge, and showed attentiveness and compassion.

The Employee Satisfaction Survey was conducted in parallel with the Resident Study and revealed a startling finding. Not only was employee satisfaction low as a whole, but nurses reported the lowest satisfaction of any key segment. A deeper dive into the feedback of the nursing staff revealed that there was mounting frustration with continually changing program requirements and new policies, many of which were designed in some way to improve the resident experience. However, the more tangible effect of the new policies was a burnt-out nursing staff that had little time to interact with the residents for whom they were meant to be caring.

But instead of taking a step back and making employee satisfaction a priority, the facilities were pushing employees, most notably nurses, to take on additional responsibilities and increase their level of care at the same time. All of this led to an eroding workplace culture and a high degree of turnover, further exacerbating the problem of nurses not dedicating enough of their time to direct resident care.

From the resident perspective, all of the employee turmoil was manifesting itself in reduced interaction with a dedicated nursing team. New faces and a continually fluctuating way of doing things interrupted routines and paved the way for an environment of discontent. And since Nursing Care Services is the most important driver of resident satisfaction, it is no surprise that this scenario ultimately led to lower resident satisfaction.

Conducting the employee and resident studies in parallel enabled the center to get the holistic view of the resident experience. The results showed that fostering a positive workplace culture for employees was a top priority in improving resident satisfaction. Facility Management and Senior Leadership were the most influential drivers of satisfaction for nurses, so increasing the amount of contact they have with the nursing staff, along with issuing internal correspondence that highlights success stories across the organization, are simple ways the center can boost employee morale.

There was also evidence in the feedback that nurses felt underprepared for direct patient care as the result of a rushed and ephemeral onboarding process, underscoring the importance of having a comprehensive training program that involves sufficient time on the floor in training before taking on a nurse’s full set of responsibilities.

This initial wave of data collection provided a blueprint for building a positive culture with better prepared staff leading to reduced turnover, greater advocacy for the organization, and improved satisfaction among employees and residents. The studies informed leadership to break the cycle of narrowly focused initiatives designed to improve the resident experience. Despite their good intentions, employee strain and burnout were unintended byproducts of this approach and thwarted the organization’s objectives. By taking a step back and prioritizing employee satisfaction, positive outcomes spread throughout the enterprise and raised the tide of satisfaction for employees and customers alike.

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