When you think about a healthcare workplace environment, what comes to mind? You probably don’t immediately picture the busy corridors of a bustling hospital, but medical facilities have the potential to be some of the most open and innovative workplaces in the country.
With some encouragement from staff and a willingness to embrace a calculated risk, healthcare leaders can create healthcare environments that are open to ideas, innovation and feedback. The best part is that this easily translates into a better care environment for patients along with supporting the early adoption of cutting-edge technology.
This article will explore how leaders can foster creativity and innovation in healthcare workplace.
How can healthcare leaders create more open, innovative work environments?
There are two main realities of the healthcare system. The first features researchers and leaders constantly searching for better ways to serve patients and facilitate healing and good health. The other reflects the sometimes less-appealing adherence to tradition that can make some professionals slow to embrace change. Reluctance to change something that works, especially when patients’ lives are in the balance is understandable, but that doesn’t mean that it’s always the right choice to make.
Instead of avoiding change, healthcare leaders should emphasize the importance of pushing the envelope and searching for the most productive processes possible. Here are some of the ways leaders can build work environments that are flexible and dynamic, so staff are able to respond to unexpected situations on the fly.
Emphasize respectful discussion
In the past, the idea of a worker openly questioning a leader’s decision was absurd. Today, a steady shift in work culture that took place over decades is making the situation much more common. The goal for healthcare leaders should be to create environments where everyone is respected as equals regardless of their official position. Of course, some workers will have specialized knowledge that may grant them more power in decision-making than others, but they should not cause outside opinions to be immediately dismissed.
Instead, create a healthcare workplace that holds respect as a value of utmost importance. When you make it clear that everyone has the right to be heard, you are signaling that it is okay to offer ideas and opinions. This, in turn, helps create a workplace where employees are willing to speak up when something isn’t working and even more willing to try changes if they benefit the group.
Implement suggestions from employees
While the information above is true, it is also important to note that actually implementing good suggestions from employees — and giving them credit for their ideas — matters a lot more than words alone. Leaders who talk a good game but never deliver on their promises or stated values can create an apathetic workplace where employees are reluctant to put in the time and effort to present innovative ideas.
Remember that healthcare professionals typically spend a lengthy amount of time learning how to do their jobs properly. Someone who has taken the time to earn an online AGACNP degree, for example, is bound to have strong ideas about how best to streamline their work and help the most people possible. Reputable institutions such as Rockhurst University offer this program to enable nurses to develop the key nursing practices required to care for adults suffering from acute and complex conditions. This program combines an accredited online course with virtual immersion, one campus immersion and a clinical placement to prepare nurses to excel in this specialized field.
Discuss changes thoroughly
Implementing new ideas, processes and guidelines can be difficult in an established healthcare workplace. As we’ve touched on above, some people can be slow to change. The best way healthcare leaders can counter this and effect real and lasting change is by reaching out to the entire workforce and discussing upcoming changes. Leaders should be honest about why the new guidelines or ideas need to be implemented and how doing so will help not only the workforce, but, ultimately, the patients.
Taking the time to be honest about changes big and small alike can go a long way towards creating a workplace that embraces change and is always ready to evolve its work processes. Once you have developed a flexible workforce, making future changes will be much easier than the first few. As with anything else, this is very much a “one foot in front of the other” situation. The first step is always the most difficult, but after that, future changes should be much easier.
Why does having a healthy work environment matter?
There are a few reasons why working towards healthy work environments that promote innovation and feedback is critical. Firstly, healthcare workers are some of the most notoriously essential people in the nation who work some of the most strenuous hours to help others. It is important that their efforts are not only recognized by their leaders but also that leaders take every opportunity to make their workload lighter. Innovative technologies are often the answer to this dilemma. Workers who have access to cutting-edge technology with the potential to seriously improve workplace effectiveness tend to be happier workers who are more willing to go above and beyond.
A healthy environment for healthcare workers is also crucial to providing effective patient care. Caring for other people can be difficult, and that’s especially true if the professionals in question don’t have the tools they need to do the job. A healthcare workplace that welcomes feedback, suggestions and new ideas is often far more conducive to productive work environments that allow workers to do their jobs well, in addition to making it easier to complete tasks. This morale and respect are often transferred to patients, who have the opportunity to interact with professionals who love their jobs, enjoy their workplaces and are more than happy to put in some extra effort when needed.
What do you think about building open and welcoming workplaces in healthcare that embrace innovation? We think it’s a great idea and can’t wait to see what the future brings!