“What’s People Engagement?” If ever there were a Frequently Asked Question, this would surely be it.

People often ask about the moniker we’ve selected for our HR department and assume that it’s just a popular new catchphrase we’ve adopted. But, the reasons companies have been rebranding their human resources departments go far beyond a snappy-sounding name. It’s a reflection of the department that drives and sustains company culture.

At Points Group, our modern version of HR is about upholding a culture of employee happiness and meshing strategy with creativity and heart. Our culture is built upon a strong foundation of teamwork and open communication. For us, the name “People Engagement” (PE) speaks to our top two priorities. We passionately believe “humans” are more than just “resources” or capital to be used. And we’ve also seen in our 15 years of business that when our people are truly engaged in the work they are doing, comfortable in their environment and believe their voices and contributions matter, they do amazing things both for us and for our clients.

This might sound like unchartered territory and that’s okay. Like you, most healthcare providers have never needed to think about this. You typically start small, create a little family atmosphere and then things go well for a few years. But as we’ve seen with most of our clients, eventually your practice grows. Growth means inevitable change. The shifts will be subtle and gradual, and if you don’t build your culture strategically and deliberately, you may end up with a work life you never intended.

To focus your culture on employee engagement, keep these five steps in mind:

1) Identify Values, Create Culture

What are the top three values that are most important to you and why? Quick, write them down. Then, think about the culture you have versus the one you want to create. Be really clear and brutally honest. Are you where you want to be? And if not, what’s stopping you? Write that down, too. (Wink, wink.)

2) Have a Clear Strategy

At Points, one of the first steps we take with our clients is to create a strategic action plan to build their businesses. This includes:

  • Industry and company analysis
  • Identification of all opportunities and areas of needed improvement
  • Brainstorming ideas that will support long-term goals

It’s important to be ambitious as well as realistic about what you want your company to achieve. And your strategic goals must mean something to your employees. After all, who wants to work for that guy whose only goal is to make a profit? (We all know “that guy.”)

3) Communicate

Talk to your staff. Help them understand your values and their importance in your patients’ lives, but you should also make time for friendly conversation. They’re people and they need to feel that you’re a person, too; not just their “boss.” It may seem obvious, but it’s easy to get lost in the stress of the day and forget the importance of the little things, like asking someone how his/her day is going, or unintentionally coming down too harshly on the employee who just made a mistake. If people feel distanced from you, you are almost certainly missing out on crucial information and innovative ideas for improving the way your practice runs. We know the medical field is very fastpaced. This makes it even more important for you as a business owner to carve out a few minutes to share some “human” moments with your staff.

4) Embark on Strategic Recruiting for Cultural Fit

Cultural fit isn’t just choosing people you like or expecting everyone to be the same. Hiring someone for cultural fit is like finding the right puzzle piece: uniquely-shaped and complementary to the rest of your team. Deliberately and thoughtfully choose people who you can see in the future you envision for your company, not just its immediate needs. Go back to your values and strategic goals. Can you see this potential hire growing as your company grows?

5) Deliver on Your Promises

Employees listen to every word you say and (usually) inherently trust that you mean it. But as you grow from five to 50, you’ll find it’s harder to remember what you told someone when you hired them three months ago. And it can be almost impossible for a business owner to be 100% up on the latest employment laws and practices. And here’s why investing in HR makes sense. If you don’t have the proper HR structure in place to help you recruit, onboard, train and develop your employees, you open yourself and your business up to the risk that things might slip through the cracks, even with the best of intentions. You’re not alone; it’s a natural side-effect of business growth for owners, but why shoulder everything yourself?

The world of HR is changing and so is the world of healthcare. Businesses in almost every industry are waking up and realizing that to stay innovative and nimble in today’s economy, they need people who embody their values and believe in their work. But building that type of culture is a real challenge that a strategic focus on engagement and HR can help you fix. Give your people something to believe in, choose only people who fit into your culture and strategic vision, and never lose sight of the fact that they’re people first and “employees” second. I guarantee you’ll be awed by what they can do.

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This document was last updated on July 24, 2014