Physician Well-Being During the COVID-19 Crisis, Part 3: Employee Engagement

By: Jason Horay
3 Minute Read

Employee engagement within the workplace directly correlates to their general well-being, affecting everything from what they eat and how active they are, to the health of their interpersonal relationships. When employees sense a lack of engagement within their organization, morale, productivity, patient experience, and other important factors to a practice’s success can suffer significantly.

Gallup, a global analytics and advice firm, recently reported that worry and sadness are at an all-time high around the world. The COVID-19 crisis is only exacerbating these issues, causing many employees to experience greater distraction and feelings of overwhelm and stress.

Practice leaders are now in a unique position to put employees’ minds at ease by directing them to key resources that will ensure they have the support needed during this difficult time. The four strategies below may help your employees feel and perform their best while remaining connected and engaged during practice disruptions.

Create a Communication Plan

It’s important to maintain consistent and meaningful communication with employees to keep them informed and engaged. An effective way to achieve this is to work with practice leaders to develop an easily accessible source of information throughout the duration of the pandemic. Such a proactive approach to communication is necessary to establish an open environment and minimize fear, uncertainty, and doubt. Lead with facts and keep the focus on how employees can stay informed and thriving.

Focus on People, Culture, and Values

In its simplest terms, a practice’s culture is what the organization says and does. Culture is guided by purpose and values—and it’s being put to test during the COVID-19 crisis. The first step to developing an effective culture is taking a moment to reflect on the practice’s purpose and values—the reason your practice exists and how you believe business should be conducted. What are you doing (or could you do) to act in alignment with your purpose and values? Are you contemplating actions that are inconsistent with these values?

Next, make sure you communicate any actions to the larger organization. Communicating openly and empathetically helps employees and patients understand decisions, keeping them more engaged with the practice as a whole.

Finally, bring your culture to life for patients, employees, and the wider community by reconnecting with your purpose and values. This will make it possible to look back on this challenging time with pride at how your practice responded. Culture always matters, but right now it matters more than ever before.

Ensure Employees Have Access to Benefits and Resources

The COVID-19 pandemic is causing many employees to worry about the unknowns, and these stressful and anxious feelings may require immediate support. Direct those in need to employee assistance programs for emotional support, counseling, and other health and wellness resources. In addition, remind employees of their time-off benefits, including floating holidays, emergency days, or mental health days. Recognize that some people may cope more effectively and recover from stressful events quicker than others. Curi Benefits Solutions clients can visit this link to learn about and assess the many resources available from the largest health insurance carriers we represent.

Show Your Gratitude and Look Ahead

Giving and receiving recognition are behaviors that generate trust among people and drive feelings of belonging and positivity. Thank your employees for their hard work during this crisis. Acknowledge their critical role in the practice and recognize their contributions.

As we all continue to navigate through this unprecedented time, thinking about future plans can seem overwhelming. However, managing practice issues related to COVID-19 forces us to approach communication, connection, leadership, management, team dynamics, and organization from a new perspective. While some changes we make during this time may revert back after the COVID-19 threat is gone, you can leverage the lessons learned today to plan for other challenging times in the future.

The Wellness Council of America (WELCOA) suggests a quick way to make the most of this difficult time: Plan forward, log this experience, and keep a running list of things that went well. Try using these questions as prompts:

  • Which leaders emerged as exceptional during this time?
  • Which platforms worked well?
  • What things did the practice let go of that were ineffective?
  • What things did the practice add that were really meaningful to people?

Be encouraged by the possibility that this situation is forming us and inviting us to create new and meaningful ways to take care of people. In a crisis, we are required to think about the most important things people need from us as leaders. Let us emerge from this in life-giving ways.

If you have questions about these strategies or how we can support the well-being of your employees further, please contact me at jason.horay@curi.com.


Jason Horay
Jason Horay is Curi’s Manager of Health Strategy and Well-Being, based in Raleigh, NC.
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