The Intake

Insights for those starting, managing, and growing independent healthcare practices

Keep practice staff happy: A guide to improving employee morale in healthcare

Employee morale is essential for the success of your practice and the well-being of your staff. Try these proven tips to boost your staff’s morale.

improving medical staff morale

At a Glance

  • Healthcare provider and staff burnout is a major issue affecting employee morale and retention. Overworked, underutilized staff are unlikely to perform at their best.
  • Implementing automated technologies like online scheduling and reminders can save staff time on tedious tasks and improve efficiency, helping to mitigate burnout.
  • Listen to staff feedback, encourage and recognize achievements, help staff develop skills, and aim to maximize roles. This demonstrates commitment to staff satisfaction and growth.

There’s no single fix for improving employee morale in your healthcare practice, but implementing systems and technologies that boost office efficiency is a great place to start. 

Running an independent healthcare practice in today’s competitive landscape takes a strong team that can perform day after day, often under pressure. Unfortunately, healthcare worker burnout remains a pressing concern in many practices.

Overworked and underutilized medical staff are unlikely to do their best work and provide excellent patient care. This leads to issues with staff satisfaction and retention and can also have a negative impact on productivity and patient satisfaction.

On the other hand, empowered staff are motivated to solve problems independently, maximize their skills and strengths, and can even enhance patient satisfaction

Optimize Operations

Healthcare provider and staff burnout: A real issue for medical practices

Over several decades, there has been a steady increase in burnout among physicians and healthcare workers — a critical issue that worsened with the pandemic and remains an issue thanks to challenges like understaffing, slim margins, and more. 

Today’s private practice providers and staff are balancing running an independent practice with the many challenges of competing with VC-backed health conglomerates while navigating stringent payer and adjudication processes.

Attrition isn’t the only consequence of staff burnout — it also tends to tank employee morale and can even affect the patient experience. ”

As a result, all healthcare professionals are bearing the brunt of an increasingly complex, highly regulated work environment — not just care providers. A 2023 article in the Journal of General Internal Medicine found that 45.6% of non-clinical staff report feeling burned out and that as a result of burnout, 1 in 3 non-clinical staff (32.6%) were considering leaving their employer. 

Attrition isn’t the only consequence of staff burnout — it also tends to tank employee morale and can even affect the patient experience.

A healthcare practice guide to improving employee morale and boosting staff satisfaction

Most practice managers and administrators know a healthcare practice is only as strong as its staff. The last few years have been challenging, and in an increasingly competitive private practice landscape, practice owners must prioritize creating an engaged staff who bring their best to work each day.  

Read on for ways to engage and empower workers while improving employee morale in your healthcare practice.

1. Implement practice technologies that save time

Practice management has always been a resource-intensive endeavor, but today, it feels like there is less to go around than ever.  Now, with healthcare practice teams focusing on building consistent revenue cycles while meeting the demands of increasingly expectant patients on top of their other duties, time is even tighter.

Automation can help. While your front office’s personal touch is no doubt required for some activities, automating specific tasks is an excellent way to mitigate the front office workload. Implementing the right technology can save your staff time, help them do their jobs better, and greatly improve patient engagement — not to mention employee morale. 

One Deloitte CEO survey found that executives believed automating tedious employee tasks allowed workers to move into more strategic roles, which led to greater job satisfaction. 

Online appointment scheduling cuts down on the inefficient back-and-forth of phone calls and shifts the “work” over to the patient. ”

For example, online appointment scheduling cuts down on the inefficient back-and-forth of phone calls and shifts the “work” over to the patient. Automated appointment reminders eliminate the dreaded phone list and can help keep your no-show rate at a minimum. 

Implementing these technologies decreases staff workload — especially more redundant, rote tasks. What’s more, today’s patients want and expect these digital conveniences: our 4th annual Patient Perspectives survey found that more than half (51%) want to receive appointment reminders via text message. 

2. Promote open, two-way communication with practice staff

In any business, employees want to feel they have a voice and that their concerns are heard. Find ways to maintain an open dialogue throughout your practice and make sure staff members have the opportunity to share their thoughts. This is a fairly basic component of employee satisfaction and one that is not difficult to implement.

Whether you accomplish this line of communication through regular staff meetings, a true open-door policy, or informal feedback sessions, give your team the opportunity to bring their opinions and ideas to the table. You may be surprised by how many great suggestions you’ll receive and how simply hearing employees out has a positive effect on morale. 

Whatever your process, remember to also keep staff up to date on any practice priorities, changes, needs, and patient communications. This can be done via quick stand-up meetings, internal office email, or both, depending on your staff size and scheduling.

Download the report

3. Implement a LEAD approach to practice staff satisfaction

LEAD stands for Listen, Encourage, Acknowledge, and Develop. This simple approach to staff satisfaction may be just what you need to engage staff and improve employee morale in your healthcare practice.

Listen relates directly to the two-way communication mentioned above and involves actively seeking feedback from your staff about how things are going. Consider taking it a step further: Formalize your feedback requests by periodically deploying an anonymous online questionnaire that encourages staff to share their thoughts on operational topics, staffing, practice culture, and personal development.

Encourage is an essential element of creating a high-performing work environment. It’s as simple as recognizing administrative staff’s hard work and value and expressing this often and in various ways, all of which motivate employees to feel empowered in their roles and take on more responsibility when ready. 

Acknowledge can be a simple word of thanks for a job well done, or it can be an established rewards system. One report found that employees are 2.7 times more likely to be engaged when they believe they will be recognized. There’s very little in the working world more satisfying than receiving recognition from the people you respect and work with.

Develop requires the most effort. It’s about working alongside staff to identify their strengths and areas for improvement and implementing a plan to leverage and expand skills and competencies. 

There is no single fix to improving employee morale in healthcare, but demonstrating a sincere commitment to employees comes close. ”

There is no single fix to improving employee morale in healthcare, but demonstrating a sincere commitment to employees comes close. Not only will employees be equipped to embrace the challenges and higher-level thinking of a more advanced role, but they’ll also welcome your commitment to their professional development and envision a future with the practice as you continue to grow. 

Keep in mind that a real development plan can require time, so any opportunities to trim down hours on office tasks with automation will support employee growth and development plans.

4. Aim high with office roles and responsibilities

This relates to the ‘Develop’ concept above. It’s an especially familiar topic in the healthcare industry, where providers and nurses are encouraged by the likes of the Institute of Medicine to practice to the “full extent of their education and training.” 

Just as clinicians want to practice to the top of their license, most practice administrative staff want to tap into their skills and strengths, be as effective as possible, and contribute to the success of the practice.

Eliminating manual tasks and facilitating growth and development in your staff can improve morale and efficiency. ”

Eliminating manual tasks and facilitating growth and development in your staff can improve morale and efficiency. Once you’ve implemented automated tools for workflow steps like scheduling and patient registration, front-office staff can take on new roles, such as managing your patient satisfaction survey process or implementing new patient communication campaigns.

This gets high-performing staff involved in patient engagement and can provide visibility into practice growth — new skills that will have staff feeling a greater level of value and contribution and a greater connection to the business.

Get the free guide
Unlock the secrets to building a profitable and sustainable healthcare practice with our eBook, "How to Optimize Operations and Increase Margins as You Grow."
Optimize Your Practice for Profitable Growth
Patient Perspectives Report

You Might Also Be Interested In

Optimize your independent practice for growth. Get actionable strategies to create a superior patient experience, retain patients, and support your staff while growing your medical practice sustainably and profitably.

Subscribe to The Intake:
A weekly check-up for your independent practice

Catherine Tansey, business writer and reporter

Catherine Tansey is a business and healthcare writer and reporter. She has close to a decade of experience writing and reporting on small business best practices, emerging technology, market trends, and more. Catherine has several family members who own private practices in mental health services, dentistry, and chiropractics, and she’s seen firsthand the pride and privilege practice owners feel to be able to support their communities.

Get expert tips, guides, and valuable insights for your healthcare practice