Drawing on our work with clients in the health care industry, Willis Towers Watson has studied the connections between employee opinion measures and business performance using data from over 600 health care units within several U.S. hospital systems. Through these analyses, we found that the link between positive work attitudes and better clinical performance is most likely to occur when two critical pillars are in place:
- Leadership focus on core organizational values. Senior leadership plays a prominent role in driving culture in any organization. The goals and values leaders emphasize through their communications and actions become the principles that guide employee behavior. When those values stress the importance of satisfying patients and delivering high-quality care, employees respond accordingly, and performance is enhanced.
- Consistent on-the-job support. In addition to the tone set by leaders, local support provided to employees is a key driver of on-the-job performance. When employees perceive they have strong support — in the form of readily available resources, training in new skills and processes, performance feedback from their managers and the ability to balance work and personal life — their performance lifts as well.
What follows is a closer look at the set of linkage analyses we've conducted from work we've done with these systems, which illustrate the strength of these connections in practical terms. By comparing employee attitude data with various organizational metrics from these systems, we studied how aspects of the workplace experience influence patient satisfaction, safety and sick leave rates, and quality of care. Across the board, we found that when employees believe their organization truly values quality care — and also get the support they need on the job — their patients are more satisfied; they take less sick time and have fewer on-the-job accidents, and health outcomes are better.