How to Become a Healthcare Dream Company

Great medical care comes from innovation, not all of it from the lab. In fact, a new report shows an important link between patient outcomes and what's happening in HR.

"A unifying theory has emerged for how to improve performance" wrote physician and researcher Thomas H. Lee, MD, on Harvard Business Review (HBR).  Dr. Lee and colleagues at Press Ganey analyzed extensive measures of engagement and how it connected to areas like safety, quality, experience, and organizational finances.

His conclusion: organizational culture is a key player; "the secret sauce."

The Power of Being a Healthcare Dream Company

For us at Bright Horizons, the link between engaged employees and patient care is familiar territory. In 2015, research done by Horizons Workforce Consulting (HWC) showed a straight line between how employees feel about their employers and the quality of the jobs they do. Data from 4000 employees across industries (including a large subset in healthcare) showed that people who call their employer a Dream Company - one that supports employees' well-being, career growth, and work/life balance -- delivered in all key areas including retention, productivity, and quality of work.

"Being in a company that you consider to be a dream company is impactful towards all of the kinds of outcomes that we're looking for," says Lucy English, HWC's managing director of institutional research and one of the authors of the study.

Employee Engagement ROI? Optimal Patient Experiences

Just as interesting is what the study said about dream companies versus dream jobs. Alone, the latter didn't have much punch. "Scores were higher for people who said they were in their dream companies," says Lucy. But one could imagine a dream job would be amplified by its presence in a Dream Company. That's relevant because healthcare employees tend to be naturally mission driven. As Lucy put it, "We have a lot of people for whom it is their dream job and it is their dream company." So delivering a top-notch workplace to a passionate employee would arguably work as super fuel.

And dream companies are further leveraging that impact with smart benefits. Employers defined as "dreams" offered not only more benefits (an average of three more than other companies), they also have employees who use more. That signals that dream companies are not only taking the time to accurately assess employees' challenges, they're also effectively responding with the right solutions. We know, for example, that today's nurses want career growth; dream companies are effectively using education programs to deliver that growth, thereby engaging those employees.

Another example of targeted benefits comes from our client, healthcare provider HCA. Mission-driven nurses want to be with patients as long as they can, says Beth Brill, HCA's vice president of HR. So their child care center has enormous value. "Knowing that they have the center that will actually stay open as long as 23 hours a day," says Beth, "truly brings them the best gift they could have...because they can take care of their patient." The upshot is passionate employees working for top-notch organizations that offer exceptionally helpful benefits.

Connecting the Dots Between Healthcare Employee Engagement and Patient Outcomes

The data sets are compelling, going one giant step further in illustrating the important link between healthcare employee engagement...and healthcare provider success.

"The association between the various outcomes and the various measures of engagement is most consistent with the conclusion that engaged physicians, nurses, and other personnel people who are proud of their organization, who believe it is committed to quality and safety, and who consider teamwork a core value," wrote Doctor Lee on HBR, "perform better." 

While medical advancements will always the backbone of patient care, employees will always be its heart. And when science and passion come together, the textbook.
Bright Horizons
About the Author
Bright Horizons
Bright Horizons
In 1986, our founders saw that child care was an enormous obstacle for working parents. On-site centers became one way we responded to help employees – and organizations -- work better. Today we offer child care, elder care, and help for education and careers -- tools used by more than 1,000 of the world’s top employers and that power many of the world's best brands

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