How Benefits Administration Can Drive Employee Engagement in Healthcare

2 employees working together

Employee engagement is a hot topic for businesses in general. But employee engagement in healthcare presents additional challenges when compared to other industries. For healthcare leaders, implementing the right engagement strategies to properly support employee well-being and job satisfaction is crucial. One way to improve the employee experience for team members is to improve your benefits offerings.

Benefits administration is something that most employees only think about once a year during open enrollment. However, a strategic human resources department can leverage their organization’s benefits package and processes to drive employee satisfaction and engagement year-round. 

It’s no secret that an attractive benefits package is an important selling point during the recruiting stage. It works hand-in-hand with salary, culture, and other key differentiators as you try to entice the candidate to come on board with your organization over your competitors. And while it plays an important role in recruiting, it can continue to be a substantial part of your entire workforce long after each employee is hired.

Why Should You Prioritize Employee Engagement in Healthcare?

Employee engagement in healthcare: employees happily working together

Employee engagement is a buzz word thrown around a lot these days. But you might be wondering why healthcare organizations — including behavioral health and human services — need to make such an effort to engage their teams. Let’s explore why employee engagement should be at the top of your organization's priority list.

Turn Around Employee Low Engagement Rates

A recent Gallup study observed an overall downward trend in employee engagement levels across the United States over the last few years, finding that only 32% of full- and part-time employees in 2022 were engaged. While Gallup's annual survey includes respondents spanning all industries, the company did observe that the healthcare industry had the largest decline in engagement from early 2021 to early 2022, and that engagement scores among healthcare workers have only slightly begun to rebound in 2023. 

Decrease Employee Turnover and Address Burnout

The healthcare field has been dealing with particularly high turnover rates as many providers began to experience severe burnout during the pandemic. Overall, the American healthcare system had heightened clinician burnout rates and the behavioral health field was no exception. In fact, according to ContinuumCloud’s 2023 Behavioral Health Industry Trends Report, only 14% of behavioral health organizations said they can fill key roles quickly. 

These high staff turnover rates — coupled with ongoing staffing shortages, mounting workloads, and heightened demand for mental health services — created a serious problem for employers in the behavioral healthcare sector and led to high rates of burnout. 

Prioritizing both employee engagement and access to benefits can help organizations address the ongoing issue of employee burnout. Another study published in 2022 found that engagement can not only mitigate burnout but it can also spark improvement in the well-being of moderately burned out employees and reduce the negative impacts of burnout. 

Providing benefits can also reduce burnout by giving employees access to resources, such as physical and mental health care, employee assistance plans, and other support to help them alleviate the symptoms of burnout.

Provide the Best Patient Care Possible

Maintaining a high quality of care and prioritizing patient safety is a must for healthcare organizations. Engaged healthcare employees will be more present and attentive in their work, leading to fewer mistakes and accidents and better patient outcomes. Employee engagement is also helpful in fostering teamwork among healthcare staff so that they can work together to provide a better patient experience.

How Do Benefits Support Employee Engagement in Healthcare?

Offering benefits shows your employees that you care about their well-being. It’s important that the healthcare workers who devote their days to patient care are also able to receive proper health care themselves. When team members have a strong benefits package, it shows a commitment for employees to receive proper health care too. 

Plus, as explored above, benefits offer support and resources to help employees dealing with burnout or compassion fatigue, two issues that frequently reduce employee engagement in healthcare settings.

The benefits package is also part of an employee’s overall compensation — and compensation is a key factor in both employee engagement and retention. Employees need to see that you appreciate their hard work. For behavioral health and human services agencies that have limited funding for salaries, solid benefits are an excellent way to improve an overall compensation package. 

Steps for Driving Engagement With Benefits

Employee engagement in healthcare: employee happily using a laptop

Crafting an effective benefits administration process and offering a robust benefits package can drive employee engagement. Here are three ways to ensure you meet employee expectations and boost employee retention.

1. Offer a Competitive Benefits Package

The first step is to build a well-rounded benefits package that will provide the support your team members need. Offering the right benefits can not only boost employee engagement, but it can also give an organization a better competitive advantage during the recruiting process. 

What exactly does a competitive benefits package include? Of course, health insurance is the focal point for most employees. However, organizations should try to build a well-rounded benefits package with strong dental and vision offerings alongside a variety of health insurance options. 

When possible, additional benefits can attract top talent while staying within your organization’s budget. For instance, life insurance, short-term disability insurance, retirement plans, flexible spending accounts, commuter benefits, and even modest tech budgets or wellness perks can help your company become more competitive and appealing. 

2. Give Employees the Options They Want

In addition to doing competitive research and working with your HR team to build a strong benefits package, you may also consider giving employees an active role in deciding on the benefits you offer. Collect feedback through a company-wide survey or otherwise welcoming suggestions from employees regarding the benefits that are most important to them. This way, you’ll demonstrate that your organization is listening to employee wants and needs. However, to be effective, these surveys must be followed up with the willingness to make real, visible changes.

3. Make Employees Aware of Their Benefits Options

Communicate effectively to ensure your employees know about all of the benefits available to them. While things like health insurance, dental, vision, and retirement plans may be obvious to most, other benefits like tuition reimbursement, professional development assistance may need to be promoted a little more.

Self-service tools can inform employees about all the benefits available to them and to take the initiative to learn more about these offerings on their own. Providing decision support tools or personal consultations can also help employees feel confident that they’re able to fully use the benefits available to them and that they’re making the best choices. And, of course, preparing employees well in advance for open enrollment can help your benefits administration processes go smoothly and efficiently.

It’s equally important to encourage team members to use these benefits. For example, if an organization offers unlimited PTO but creates a work environment in which employees don’t feel like they can truly use this benefit, this will have a detrimental effect on employee engagement and morale. Conversely, when your workforce knows about the benefits available to them and they’re encouraged to use them, they’ll likely feel more valued.

Boost Employee Engagement in Healthcare With Tools Designed For Your Industry

After spending long hours acting as caregivers, healthcare providers and support staff need the resources to tend to their own health and wellness. That’s why providing a strong benefits package and making employees aware of the available offerings is a key step for employee engagement in healthcare.

ContinuumCloud’s human capital management platform was designed to streamline benefits administration to help behavioral health and human services organizations better support and engage employees. Contact us to learn how ContinuumCloud can help your organization improve your engagement levels through streamlining benefits management and boosting your overall HR operations.

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