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Use stay interviews to address employee concerns, build a better office culture

By Chris Harrop
January 24, 2018
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In a healthcare industry facing provider shortages and high turnover rates for some positions, waiting to engage employees regarding how they feel about their job and the workplace until an exit interview is an awful strategy, according to Steve Marsh, MGMA member, founder and chief executive officer, The Medicus Firm, Dallas.

“If you think about patient care, it’s like focusing on autopsies rather than preventative care,” Marsh said during his Jan. 23 webinar, “Building and Maintaining a Positive Workplace Culture in Healthcare,” regarding medical groups that do not make stay interviews a part of their human resource management strategy.

A stay interview is a one-on-one meeting between an employee and a supervisor or manager that focuses on the employee’s job and his/her satisfaction with working in the organization, as it relates to relationships with colleagues and/or the direct supervisor and engagement with the organization’s mission and values.

Marsh says that organizational culture often is dictated by either chance or choice, depending on whether leaders place value and emphasis on developing a good set of core values that reflect fundamental beliefs about the group.

Making sure that people pay attention to those values makes the difference, Marsh says. Most organizations have some sort of acknowledgment of those values framed or posted on a breakroom wall somewhere, he says, “but some of them are kind of dusty” and may not truly reflect the realities of how people work there day to day.

Marsh noted that it is important for leaders to communicate those core values, especially in tough situations, and that framing answers to difficult questions by how situations relate to the organization’s core values help those ideas “become a fabric of what you do,” he says.

To assess whether those values are resonating with employees, stay interviews provide the opportunity to elicit feedback from employees. Marsh recommends that a medical group makes them a consistent, systematic part of its human resource management strategy.

“Everyone has a vision of a positive workplace culture … what’s really hard to do is the execution part,” Marsh says. Without consistency for engaging employees via stay interviews, that vision for a positive workplace “will be more of a mirage” than a reality, he says.

An impromptu poll of webinar attendees found about 38% of those who responded do not have a formal method for employee feedback.

In the case of The Medicus Firm, Marsh says stay interviews are conducted quarterly via a standard set of questions for employees. He also notes that many medical groups regularly use employee satisfaction surveys as another means to gauge how people feel about the work environment and how it contributes to the overall practice culture.

Analyzing employee feedback is relatively simple and straightforward, but it requires persistence, Marsh notes, likening it to keeping a New Year’s resolution to exercise.

“Having a positive workplace culture is not complicated, it’s just very hard to do,” he says.

Additional resources:

Chris Harrop, senior editorial manager, Publications, MGMA

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