How Healthcare Managers Can Better Motivate Employees

The ability to motivate employees is critical for managers in any industry. In healthcare, which faces tremendous change, uncertainty, and challenges, motivation becomes even more vital.

Nothing can happen without the cooperation of employees. Helping people see a common vision and feel enough of a connection to it to make the necessary efforts for its realization is the fundamental responsibility of leadership.

Basic motivation methodologies

Realize that people differ in what they find motivating. Salespeople, for example, may thrive on increased income, as the money becomes a way of keeping score. But past a certain point, bonuses aren’t the best type of motivational tool for most people.

Recognition is more important. People who want to make a difference, and that describes many who go into healthcare, want to know that they have done just that. Public recognition awards for employees who go beyond the usual call of duty or who find better ways for the organization to operate are good candidates can be a good tool.

The facilitation of communications among employees also helps. The more they work together on projects tied to the strategic goals of the provider, the greater a sense of community that develops.

Special conditions of healthcare

Healthcare is an unusual type of industry, focused at least as much on a sense of humanitarian mission as on profit. There are also personal development issues. That aspect alone can require special handling:

Career development is generally defined as the possibility to specialize in a specific field or be promoted through the ranks of health workers. Doctors and health workers laboring in rural settings commonly cite limited career development opportunities as a demotivating factor. A study of South African doctors working in rural areas found that many complained about being unable to connect to online training courses to learn a specialty. A lack of promotion opportunities is another problem. Nurses in Tanzania reported working for as many as ten years without a promotion. This has led to bad feelings, where the researchers point out that simple communication—such as staff appraisals and transparent promotion procedures—could lead to better morale

Inadequate and outdated equipment and supplies can increase frustration, leading eventually to dissatisfaction and departure. Although money is not necessarily a primary motivator, salaries, particularly for highly trained personnel, also come into question. If employees do not feel as though they are adequately compensated for their expertise, they could become less motivated.

The challenge for managers is to balance all these aspects of motivation and develop approaches that address everyone’s needs while recognizing limitations of facilities, budgets, and location.

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