Employee engagement is one of the terms you hear a lot these days. Most everyone agrees that if you want your practice to grow, you need engaged employees. It’s important, though, to ask the question why. Engagement for engagement’s sake doesn’t drive growth, profits or accountability. However, the actions you get from an engaged team, do.
Veterinary work is challenging and stressful sometimes. But, there are hospitals that are able to do this work in a fully engaged environment with great people. They exist across different geographies because I’ve had the good fortune to work with some of them. For these practices, engagement is a top priority. Let’s explore the reasons why engagement matters so much and why it’s worth working towards.
If you don’t want to have better patient care or client service, then engagement doesn’t matter. Employees who aren’t engaged show up and focus on one thing — the paycheck. They don’t look at how we can improve. They look at all the things they wish were easier for them.
There’s only one thing disengaged people collaborate about. It’s how to find a different place to work! Engaged employees look for new ideas and are interested in building solutions across different areas. They collaborate because that’s how they accomplish tasks. Disengaged people don’t care if they ever accomplish them.
I often hear leaders frequently wish for more accountability in their practice. Accountability comes when someone cares enough about the outcome to own the path to reach it. Disengaged employees think of the outcome as quitting time. They’re not reaching new goals for the practice.
Engaged employees look for ways to learn more. They want to try new processes and procedures and become more capable. Engagement leads directly to individual improvement. Our practice is better tomorrow (and more capable) than it was today.
Growth is about change. Practices that build strong teams of engaged people change faster. Engaged employees are focused on the growth, not the challenges, that change brings. Change is not resisted by team members who want a better outcome. It’s resisted only by those who look at change as additional work or more trouble.
When your practice team is highly engaged, members will seek out others who are willing to help them grow. Individuals focused on the practice’s mission are less worried about getting credit than they are about team success. If you doubt this, go watch a group of people build houses for an organization like Habitat For Humanity. Strangers come together because they are working toward a common goal. They welcome everyone to the team and help each person determine how they can most successfully contribute.
Yes, it matters
You can’t build a thriving practice without any of these critical factors. Disengaged people create problems and engaged people solve them. It’s often as simple as that. The questions become how do you build a practice culture that engages employees? We definitely want them to bring more of their innovation, accountability and resilience to the practice. But, where do you begin? Start by making engagement something you care about. Not because it’s the hot buzzword, but because without it, no practice will be successful for long.