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Engagement strategies

chris o'connor

Christopher O'Connor and Dr. Prathibha Varkey discussed the search for balance between engagement and burnout for staff and physicians.


Christopher O'Connor, YNHHS executive vice president and chief operating officer, and Prathibha Varkey, MBBS, Northeast Medical Group president and CEO and YNHHS senior vice president, discussed employee and physician engagement.

"One of the wonderful benefits of working in health care is that we get to be part of patients' lives when they are at their most vulnerable in illness and when they are hopeful in preparing for health," said Dr. Varkey. "In order to best serve the patients we care for, we must engage and invest in our staff and clinicians to ensure that the work environment provides the necessary inspiration and synergies for them to provide the care the patients need."

Several factors affect engagement positively – such as the work itself, responsibility, opportunities for growth and advancement, achievement and recognition. Other factors may impact engagement negatively, such as issues with leadership, salaries, job status and security, interpersonal relationships and working conditions.

"We have to get the balance between career satisfaction and burnout just right," said Dr. Varkey. "Burnout and stress are often created by lack of control or lack of meaning, or when there is more work than there are resources." The problem with disengagement and burnout is that they can lead to depression, loss of productivity and/or medical errors. Antidotes include timely communication from leadership, increased empowerment and recognition of our staff, and a balance between work and personal life.

"This is a real challenge," agreed O'Connor. "Along those lines, we will soon start two new quarterly initiatives system-wide: a Life Skills series and a System Employee Forum video to give both support and access to current information." Another effective form of engagement is rounding with purpose – really listening and engaging employees, as well as patients. Also, the alignment of our Performance Incentive Program throughout the system helps guide staff on the key goals of the patient and visitor experience, patient safety and quality, employee engagement and financial objectives