Skip Navigation LinksHome > March 28, 2014 - Volume 8 - Issue 2 > Staff engagement before all else
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OR Nurse:
doi: 10.1097/01.ORN.0000444111.37376.da
Department: Editorial

Staff engagement before all else

Section Editor(s): Thompson, Elizabeth M. MSN, RN, CNOR

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Editor-in-Chief Nursing Education Specialist Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn.

The Association of periOperative Registered Nurses' (AORN's) Surgical Conference and Expo will be taking place from March 30 to April 2 in Chicago, IL. AORN's theme this year is innovate, empower, engage, and grow.

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As I reflect upon this year's theme, the word “engage” stands out to me. Without staff engagement, the other three have little impact. Engaging employees is a concept we're hearing about more frequently, and it's becoming more important to our organizations.

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Employee engagement

Recently, I read a Gallup report that discussed employee engagement both globally and regionally. According to the report, State of the American Workplace: Employee Engagement Insights for U.S. Business Leaders, only 30% of the nation's workforce is engaged.1 This means that 70% aren't engaged, and of these, 18% are actively disengaged. Nurses and physicians rate slightly higher with 33% of nurses being engaged and 34% of physicians.

The report consisted of a 12-point questionnaire focused on the workplace culture and environment. The responses were categorized into three groups: engaged, not engaged, and actively disengaged. The employees identified as engaged were considered to have passion and feeling connected to the company. Those who weren't engaged were described as “checked out,” “sleepwalking through the day,” and having no energy or passion in their work. Workers who were actively disengaged weren't just unhappy at work but also consistently undermined the accomplishments of others.

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Numbers matter

Despite the obvious significance of promoting best patient outcomes, the effects of employee engagement or disengagement are far-reaching. Engaged employees “have significantly higher productivity, profitability, and customer ratings.” They have less absenteeism, turnover, and fewer safety incidents. Conversely, Gallup estimates that, “active disengagement costs the United States $450 billion to $550 billion per year.” In the current climate of healthcare, organizations are less capable of absorbing this kind of cost. The Gallup survey also noted that disengaged employees are, “those who are negative and potentially hostile to their organizations and continue to outnumber engaged employees at a rate of nearly 2 to 1.”

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Selecting the right leaders

The report shares interventions to improve employee engagement. Gallup places an emphasis on selecting the right leaders, noting that “people engage people.” Managers should be held accountable for employee engagement. Hiring the right employees, instilling trust, showing genuine concern for the employee as an individual as well as his or her performance, and optimizing employee talents are necessary steps to improve engagement.

Elizabeth M. Thompson, MSN, RN, CNOR

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Editor-in-Chief Nursing Education Specialist Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. ORNURSE@WOLTERSKLUWER.COM

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1. Gallup. State of the global workplace: employee engagement insights for business leaders worldwide. 2013. www.

© 2014 by Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.