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Performance Reviews Performance Management Healthcare

How to Conduct Better Employee Evaluations in Healthcare

December 14, 2023
8 min read
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Performance Management, Supercharged


Employee performance reviews are often treated as routine human resources tasks. But we know by now that when done well, the benefits of performance appraisals are substantial. They help companies boost productivity and retain their employees. A good appraisal process improves business outcomes and empowers employees to do their best at work.

Effective reviews are worth the effort —especially in healthcare. Employee evaluations in healthcare significantly impact patient care, staff morale, and organizational success. They’re instrumental in recognizing and nurturing talent, identifying areas for improvement, and fostering professional growth.

Giving evaluations in a healthcare setting requires that you understand the complexities of the environment. Those complexities include finding the balance between providing exceptional health services and managing the performance of healthcare teams. HR leaders in healthcare must handle challenges with empathy and conduct fair, transparent evaluations that prioritize continuous improvement.

Keep reading to learn more about the nuances of healthcare performance appraisals. Learn how to leverage them to effectively manage your team, foster a culture of excellence, and deliver high-quality patient care.

⚕️Employee evaluations affect staff morale and the quality of patient care. Learn more about how they’re connected and how to make reviews more effective for your healthcare employees:

How Employee Evaluations Shape Healthcare Outcomes

Healthcare organizations' success is closely linked to how employees behave, more so than in many other industries. For a healthcare institution to thrive, it needs a workforce that truly cares about providing excellent care to patients. Patient care thrives in an atmosphere where healthcare professionals are competent, committed, continually improving, and feel valued and supported.

Evaluations are a compass guiding this journey, providing the direction and support employees need to provide excellent care. They play a major part in shaping individual and team performance.

Employee Evaluations Shape Morale

Maintaining the morale of your healthcare staff is crucial for providing quality patient care. When employees feel valued and satisfied in their roles, they are more dedicated, engaged, and productive. This is especially important in healthcare, where patient care has life-altering consequences. Additionally, high staff morale reduces turnover, ensuring consistent care and fostering stronger teamwork.

Effective employee evaluations play a significant role in enhancing staff morale and promoting exceptional patient care. The well-being and motivation of each individual team member become integral to excellent patient care.

Morale's Role in Patient Care

Staff morale is the foundational pillar of high-quality care, high patient satisfaction, and organizational success. A positive work environment, fostered by high morale, encourages open communication, innovation, and a commitment to excellence.

As staff morale elevates, so does the quality of care delivered to patients. This symbiotic relationship underscores the significant role of effective employee evaluations in steering healthcare organizations toward success.

Why You Need to Manage Healthcare Workers’ Performance Now

Careers in healthcare are uniquely demanding. They take a toll on workers’ physical, mental, and emotional well-being. That’s without considering stressful conditions that were created or made worse by the pandemic:

These difficult workplace conditions have led to what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is calling a “mental health crisis” among healthcare workers. 46% of healthcare workers said they experienced burnout often or very often in 2022, up from 32% in 2018.

Such high rates of burnout would be a serious problem in any workplace, but in healthcare, where employee well-being affects patient outcomes, it’s an emergency. So what can employers do about it?

According to the CDC, healthcare workers with supportive work environments reported fewer mental issues like burnout. Supportive workplaces are characterized by:

  • Employee participation in workplace decisions
  • Trust between management and workers
  • Proactive and helpful supervisors that promote:
    • Stress prevention
    • Psychological health
    • Support for productivity
    • A harassment-free workplace
    • Enough time to complete tasks

Effective performance reviews in healthcare can play a key role in facilitating a supportive work environment. Employees take an active role in their performance by working with their managers to set goals and by completing self-assessments during review cycles. They also receive continuous feedback, which helps build transparency and trust between workers and management.

“Occupational distress, which is known as burnout, is distinct from a mental health condition. And I think they become conflated in people’s minds. It’s important to recognize occupational stress and burnout is related to the work environment in which people work, and so there are many things that can be done to improve that work environment.” - Christine Sinsky, the vice president of professional satisfaction at the American Medical Association, via STAT

Thanks to this open dialogue, managers can provide coaching and feedback, answer questions, provide resources, and remove roadblocks —all of which prevent stress and enable productivity. The easier it is to communicate, the more comfortable workers will feel seeking support from their managers. Performance evaluations in healthcare are also an opportunity for managers to purposefully check in about employee well-being.

There’s no way to support your healthcare employees without supporting their well-being. The industry lost 20% of its workforce —around 4 million workers —in the first eight months of 2022, and experts predict that millions more are needed than will enter the workforce. They’re surrounded by peers quitting and looking at years of working on understaffed teams, and they need an employer that makes their hard work a little easier.

🏥 Unlocking Success in Healthcare: Discover how employee evaluations are pivotal for healthcare orgs to thrive:

How to Conduct Effective Employee Evaluations in Healthcare

Conducting effective evaluations requires preparation, the right approach, and excellent communication skills. Here are four actionable ways to improve employee performance evaluations.

1. Prepare For Each Review

Before performance reviews take place, do some research into the role of the employee you're evaluating. Familiarize yourself with their job description, daily responsibilities, and any specific challenges they might face.

Here are more ways to prepare for formal performance reviews:

  • Set Clear Objectives: Define the goals and expectations for each evaluation, ensuring they’re aligned with business and team objectives. Keep them somewhat flexible so you can make adjustments when you speak with the employee.
  • Gather Data: Collect relevant data, including performance metrics, peer feedback, and any other information that contributes to a complete understanding of the employee's contributions.
  • Stay Informed on Trends: Keep up with the latest developments in healthcare to ensure that evaluations reflect current industry standards and are forward-looking.
  • Promote Employee Involvement: Encourage active employee participation in the evaluation process with self-assessments, goals, and weekly check-ins.

2. Take a Healthcare-Specific Approach to Evaluations

The healthcare field requires evaluation strategies tailored to its specific challenges and dynamics. Consider a specialized approach for more effective healthcare evaluations:

  • Patient-Centric Competencies: Incorporate performance criteria that reflect skills crucial to healthcare, for example, patient communication, empathy, and adherence to safety protocols.
  • Recognition of Team Collaboration: Healthcare is a collective effort, which you can acknowledge by recognizing and evaluating teamwork, communication, and collaboration skills during reviews.
  • Adaptability and Resilience: High-performing healthcare professionals have the ability to adapt to evolving situations and demonstrate resilience in high-pressure environments.
  • Incorporate Ethical Considerations: For some roles, evaluations may take ethical considerations into account, emphasizing the importance of integrity and ethical decision-making in healthcare.

3. Deliver Actionable Feedback

Delivering effective feedback at work is hard in general, and in healthcare, the stakes are even higher. Emotions can be heightened, and employees’ reactions to feedback could impact their work and, consequently, patient outcomes. Here are some pointers for giving feedback that is constructive and fosters continuous improvement:

  • Give Balanced Feedback: Acknowledge both strengths and weaknesses to provide constructive feedback. Motivate employees to improve while maintaining a balanced perspective.
  • Highlight Patient-Centric Achievements: Call out instances team members demonstrated exceptional patient care and compassion during reviews. Be sure to publicly recognize and reward great work, as well.
  • Facilitate Goal-Setting: Collaboratively set goals aligned with business goals and professional development goals. This encourages engagement by supporting employees’ interests and growth and showing how their work furthers business objectives.
  • Use Non-Defensive Language: Frame feedback in a non-defensive manner. Be sure to point to employees’ behaviors rather than negatively characterizing the person. Ask questions and invite them to discuss solutions to promote open communication and reduce resistance to constructive criticism.

4. Respond to Your Employees

Annual performance evaluations with zero follow-up aren’t part of any performance management process that works. Try these strategies for gathering employee feedback and act on it to foster a positive feedback culture:

  • Active Listening: Actively listen to employee responses, demonstrating empathy and a genuine commitment to understanding their perspective.
  • Provide Development Resources: Offer resources, training, or mentorship opportunities to support employees in addressing areas identified for improvement.
  • Encourage Conversation: Establish open channels for employees to express their thoughts and concerns to create a culture of transparency and collaboration. Start weekly one-on-ones and discuss goals and performance often.
  • Promote a Growth Mindset: Encourage a growth mindset by framing feedback as an opportunity for learning and development. Talk to employees about how evaluations are part of a continuous improvement journey.

Use these tips to contribute to a culture of excellence and growth among your healthcare workforce.

Common Mistakes in Healthcare Employee Evaluations

Avoid these common pitfalls to ensure your evaluations are fair and beneficial.

  1. Generalized Feedback: Be specific in your feedback. Vague statements don't provide clear direction and could have an unintended effect on patient outcomes, which can be dangerous in a healthcare setting.
  2. Bias or Opinions: Keep your personal feelings out of the evaluation process. Focus on performance, not personality. Evaluate employees based on fair and impartial criteria, and try incorporating peer feedback for more perspectives on performance.
  3. Neglecting Clear Communication: Clear communication is crucial. Ensure the employee understands their strengths, areas for improvement, and next steps by reviewing these before wrapping up the meeting.
  4. Neglecting Goal-Oriented Evaluation: Set SMART goals for each employee. This helps them understand what's expected and how they can improve.
  5. Not Following Up: Be sure managers are discussing performance often —preferably weekly, but certainly far more than once each year. Follow up to discuss goal progress, make adjustments as needed, answer questions, provide encouragement, and stay on top of employee performance all year.
  6. Not Using Performance Management Software: Software makes it easy to create evaluations for any role and launch and manage regular performance review cycles. You can also analyze responses and keep your finger on the pulse of your healthcare employees’ overall performance using a performance appraisal system.

Effective employee evaluations are critical in healthcare, impacting staff morale, patient care, and, ultimately, organizational success. Give evaluations that truly benefit your team and your organization by understanding the unique challenges of healthcare evaluations, preparing adequately, and avoiding common mistakes

You can also give better healthcare evaluations thanks to HR software like ClearCompany. ClearCompany is the healthcare HR solution with the tools you need for a supportive, future-focused performance management strategy.

Our software enables healthcare businesses to:

  • Design more efficient, scalable HR processes
  • Create transparent and accurate reporting to stay in compliance
  • Build a strong company culture where employees can grow and have their voices heard
  • Empower every employee to do their best work and realize their full potential

Support your healthcare employees, enhance patient care, and drive organizational success with the right HR software. See why ClearCompany Performance Management for healthcare is the best choice for managing healthcare workers’ performance —sign up for a personalized demo today.

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