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Hearing Your Healthcare Workers: Tips For Establishing Two-Way Communication in Wellbeing Efforts

Hearing Your Healthcare Workers: Tips For Establishing Two-Way Communication in Wellbeing Efforts

Photo by ©Thomas Barwick/Getty Images

Actively involving your staff in developing and implementing your hospital’s professional wellbeing initiatives creates a supportive work environment and builds trust in the organization’s leadership.1

Healthcare workers feel heard and valued when you make their input and collaboration a priority. Healthcare workers who have the opportunity to participate in workplace decisions and who trust management are less likely to feel burned out.2

Here are some strategies you can use to cultivate employee engagement:

Foster open dialogue from the start

Set expectations from the beginning that staff are encouraged to participate in decision-making processes related to wellbeing efforts. From the initial announcement about the hospital’s commitment to professional wellbeing, highlight the important role that staff input will play throughout the initiative.

Establish two-way communication mechanisms

Healthcare Professional raising their hand

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Implement systems for collecting ideas and feedback from healthcare workers on a regular basis. This could include methods such as surveys, suggestion boxes, one-on-one conversations during leadership rounding, or town hall meetings. Encourage participation by providing mechanisms for anonymous feedback.

You should also let your staff know their feedback has been heard and you are taking action in response. Share hospital leaders’ plans to bolster professional wellbeing and regularly invite feedback on them.

Make shared governance a priority

Actively involve healthcare workers in decision-making processes related to professional wellbeing at every stage of planning and implementation. This could be through healthcare worker representation on the team advancing professional wellbeing activities at your hospital, or a dedicated advisory committee composed of staff who want to be involved.

Ensure transparency and responsiveness

Publish regular progress updates to keep staff informed and engaged over time. Share how decisions were made with staff input. Respond promptly and effectively to any concerns raised.

Build trust through consistency

Demonstrate consistency, reliability, and follow-through on commitments made to your staff. Doing what you said you would do builds trust and confidence in organizational leadership. Engage mid-level managers and supervisors to play a role in communicating with their staff and gathering input related to their professional wellbeing.

Cultivate champions and support networks

Identify potential role models on your staff when it comes to professional wellbeing and recruit them to help lead the way for the rest of the organization. Consider creating hospital-wide support networks or peer support groups where healthcare workers can connect with colleagues, share experiences, and provide mutual support in navigating challenges related to wellbeing and burnout.

Recognize staff contributions and involvement

Acknowledge and appreciate the healthcare workers who invest time to actively contribute to professional wellbeing efforts. You could highlight key staff through methods like formal recognition programs, newsletter features, or staff meeting announcements.

Healthcare Professionals in a conversation

Photo by ©Thomas Barwick/Getty Images

Learn more

Refer to Action 4 in the Impact Wellbeing™ Guide for more ideas and examples of how to engage in two-way communication with your staff.

1 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [2018]. Health communication playbook: Resources to help you create effective materials. Atlanta, GA: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

2 Nigam J, Barker RM, Cunningham T, Swanson N, Chosewood LC [2023]. Vital signs: Health worker–perceived working conditions and symptoms of poor mental health — Quality of worklife survey, United States, 2018–2022. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 72(44):1197–1205