Healthcare employers battle low employee morale

The healthcare industry has been somewhat immune to the economic recession compared to other hard-hit industries, but a new survey reveals that healthcare organizations are battling low employee morale.

Twenty percent, or one in five, of the more than 350 healthcare employers reported low morale. Meanwhile, 38 percent of healthcare workers cited lack of motivation and nearly 25 percent reported no loyalty to their employers.

Despite the bad news, healthcare employers aren’t seeking to replace their disgruntled workers. On the contrary, they are “doing what they can to maintain their staff,” said Allison Nawoj, spokeswoman for CareerBuilder, which conducted the survey.

“Employers want to hold on to their employees,” she said. “Their employees’ intellectual capital and experience is very valuable to them.”

Across industries, including the healthcare industry, employers are trying to address low morale in the work environment and motivate their workers, Nawoj said.

Nearly half of the healthcare workers surveyed cite increased stress on the job, and 50 percent noted an increase in their workload in the last six months.

“A lot of the themes are universal, especially making sure communications are clear,” said Nawoj. Employers are implementing more employee recognition programs. Incentive programs are also being used, but Nawoj noted that incentive programs are harder to maintain in this economic environment.

To address the dissatisfaction – 18 percent – with employee work/life balance, employers are offering more flexible work schedules as an alternative to incentive programs.

Low morale was also attributed to departmental favoritism, according to 45 percent of healthcare workers surveyed. Thirty-one percent of healthcare worker respondents said that they did not believe their department was important to senior management.

The survey, which was conducted in August and September 2009, is a snapshot of the economic times. There is nowhere to go but up, Nawoj pointed out.

“Times are tough, but we’re moving forward,” she said.

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