An engaged workforce is important for any productive organization. For health care providers, it’s essential. Your employees are your direct link to patients, and their engagement – or disengagement – with your organization sets the tone for the level of care your patients receive.

Organizational changes like mergers and acquisitions are health care industry constants. They can also cause uncertainty and extra stress for employees, which can decrease morale, lead to less productive patient interactions and – most alarmingly lead to diminished patient care.

How can you help employees navigate the difficulties that come with mergers, acquisitions and other organizational changes? Your secret weapon is right there in your workplace. The right group of employee change ambassadors can lead their colleagues through the change and help them to emerge more committed than ever to exceptional patient care.

Look across the organization
To identify the right change ambassadors, it’s important to tap a diverse set of employees. Select people from a cross-section of departments to ensure various employee groups are represented.

Diversity is also important from a seniority perspective. You’re looking for natural leaders, not employee titles. Including junior-level employees gives management a window into how this demographic of the workforce is feeling. It also demonstrates that anyone across the enterprise can play a role in shaping the organization’s culture. Employees at all levels want to feel that they are being heard and that their feedback is valued.

Give them the tools
It’s not always feasible – or necessary – to share every last detail of an upcoming change. But when it comes to empowering your ambassadors, more is more. Provide the background and context for the change. Provide talking points and a high level road map for how the change will be achieved and what it will do for your system and your patients. Ask ambassadors for their feedback and adjust messaging when needed.

Monitor the organization’s pulse
Health care system leaders have a lot on their plates. It can be difficult for them to keep a pulse on how employees are feeling about the changes – and more importantly, why they’re feeling that way.

Change ambassadors provide management a pulse on how their peers are adjusting to change across an organization. Encourage ambassadors to share concerns and potential issues with management right away. That way, strategies can be implemented proactively rather than reactively to help employees remain engaged and productive.

Equip and empower
Like the doctor/patient relationship, management and employees need to trust one another. Working through organizational change in the shadows is the easiest way to erode trust among employees.

The more you equip and empower your change ambassadors, the more all employees can embrace the change and focus on every health care organization’s number one priority: giving patients the high-quality care that they deserve.

For more insights into health care organizational change, check out ways to bring employees along for the journey.

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