How to Create a Strong Company Culture at Your Facility

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Written by Alexa Davidson, MSN, RN Content Writer, IntelyCare
A team of nurses and physicians goes over patient records, showing the value of a strong company culture at medical facilities.

Healthcare facilities have a unique set of challenges in hiring and retaining staff. After the COVID-19 pandemic, healthcare workers began leaving the profession at unprecedented rates — some in search of better workplaces, others out of the healthcare industry altogether. Whether a staff member chooses to stay at your organization may come down to strong company culture.

Nurses and allied staff no longer need to be tied down to one facility to have fulfilling, fruitful careers. The modern healthcare landscape allows them to practice across state lines, in alternative practice settings, or even remotely. They’re choosing their health, families, and personal well-being over facilities that make them feel unsupported.

If your facility is struggling to keep staff, it’s time to look beyond “the great resignation” and within your own company culture to determine what’s keeping staff — and what’s causing them to leave. Discover what makes a strong company culture and how it improves retention in healthcare.

What Does Company Culture Mean?

Company culture is a set of workplace values and beliefs that influence behaviors and attitudes within an organization. A strong company culture can help reduce employee turnover rates by creating an environment where people want to work rather than looking for ways out. It can also help improve morale, increase productivity, and improve patient outcomes.

Healthcare organizations must create a positive environment that allows staff to work at their best. This starts with a strong foundation of core values, mission, and vision that’s embodied throughout all departments. On a micro-level, a company should make staff feel valued and supported. It’s easy to feel small within a large organization — a strong culture supports staff as individuals.

How Does Company Culture Affect Staffing?

Nurses, who make up the largest sector of the healthcare workforce, are leaving the profession in droves. According to a nursing workplace satisfaction survey conducted by the American Nurses Association, 29% of nurses said they planned to leave direct care within six months of the survey.

Organizational culture plays a role in nurses’ satisfaction. Nurses responded “neutral” to nearly all of the survey questions asking if they felt supported, heard, and valued by their organization. They also responded neutral when asked if their organization cared about their well-being. According to the survey:

  • 11% of nurses felt empowered
  • 17% felt valued
  • 20% felt supported

The time to improve workplace satisfaction to retain nurses is now. This may mean changing old practices and leadership styles to achieve a strong company culture that supports healthcare staff.

Elements of Organizational Culture, With Examples

What matters to healthcare employees may be different than what matters to executives. Things like job security and benefits are important, but at the core, staff members want to feel seen and heard.

Here are the top five elements of organizational culture that matter most to employees:

  • Respect. Employees want their perspectives taken seriously and to be treated with dignity.
  • Supportive leadership. Employees value leaders who are helpful, accommodating, and responsive to individual needs
  • Core value role models. Leaders’ actions should be consistent with the organization’s values.
  • Toxic managers.Employees respond strongly to leaders who create negative environments.
  • Unethical behavior. It matters when employees and managers partake in unethical behavior.

5 Ways to Build a Strong Culture

Now that you’ve seen some examples of good company culture, you’ll want to incorporate the key elements at your healthcare facility. Here are some ways to build a strong company culture in your organization.

1. Command Respect With an Uncompromising Culture

When employees feel valued and respected, they’re more likely to be engaged in their work. It’s important to show healthcare staff that respect and results are equally important. You can do this by establishing policies and core values that reflect an uncompromising culture. Here are some healthcare workplace culture examples:

Allow Staff to Be Themselves

Workplaces that allow staff to express their true identity have better rates of job satisfaction. For instance, a study showed that LGBTQ-supportive workplaces lead to lower levels of workplace stress and anxiety. A career in healthcare is stressful enough, so consider how creating an inclusive workplace can reduce added stress. Revisit policies that limit self-expression (such as policies restricting tattoos, hair color, or pride paraphernalia).

Have a Zero-Tolerance Policy for Violence

Nearly a third of nurses report experiencing incidents of violence in the workplace, 90% of which were from patients. Healthcare leaders must advocate for staff through actions and words. Create a zero-tolerance policy for violence. Make it clear to the public that if a patient physically assaults a nurse, they can get care somewhere else.

Eliminate Staff Bullying

Staff burnout and a tense workplace can lead to workplace bullying. With 60% of nurses experiencing bullying in the workplace, it may be time to examine your facility’s environment. Check which conditions contribute to tension and incivility that need to be addressed. Provide staff and leadership education about bullying in the workplace. Train managers to identify bullying and encourage staff to speak up.

2. Apply Servant Leadership

A people-first leadership style echoes throughout a healthcare organization, building trust among patients and staff. Modeling servant leadership is a way to show that you prioritize people over profits. This model takes a serve-first approach that places humility over authority. With less emphasis on productivity and more on service, leaders can inspire a vision of all the good a healthcare organization can do.

3. Build Programs That Promote Professional Development

It’s important for healthcare organizations to create an environment that allows staff to grow in their professional careers. An example is creating a professional development program that supports career aspects like leadership, advanced skills, and evidence-based practice.

Nursing professional development improves patient outcomes and increases retention rates. As nurses grow within your organization, encourage leadership tracks so nurses have a presence on your administrative team. Having “homegrown” nurses in administrative roles gives nursing staff an added layer of representation during decision-making.

4. Demonstrate a Commitment to Safety

There are many barriers to meeting safety standards in healthcare, such as short staffing or limited resources. As a leader, be transparent with your employees about the challenges and the path forward for solving them. A commitment to the safe delivery of patient care should be widely present in your organization. You can include your commitment in a mission statement and safety policies.

5. Make Leadership Accessible

Administrative and frontline staff have significantly different experiences within a healthcare organization. Close the gap between the two to create a strong company culture. You can do this by implementing:

  • Open forum town hall meetings
  • Administrative rounds on nursing units
  • Human resources visits to nursing units to better understand staffing needs

Invest in Your Company Culture Today

Ready to take actionable steps now that you know how to build a strong company culture? Start by staying up-to-date on the latest healthcare workforce trends that affect your organization. Read about what’s changing in healthcare in IntelyCare’s monthly newsletter.