The NHS is currently undergoing one of the biggest reforms in the UK as the government looks to tackle growing health problems. With Obesity being at epidemic levels and other health related issues putting continued strain on the NHS service and other healthcare organisations, staff engagement is more important than ever. Social media continues to lead the way as a digital engagement platform for the top brands and also for many other business organisations. With the growing use of Smartphone technology, more people now communicate online. Social media platforms facilitate millions of conversations daily and organisations realise that social media can be a primary engagement tool both for their staff and customers. The NHS spends some £58.4 billion on staff wages annually so maximising staff engagement can help the NHS get the best out of its workforce and a better return on investment.
Social media can be used by healthcare organisations to monitor what is being said online about them, their services and products. With so many conversations taking place online, social media can help the NHS and other healthcare organisations to collect important customer feedback whether positive or negative and the reputation of their organisation. As a digital communication tool, social media can also collect staff feedback have help with engaging staff both internally and with the public.
What is staff engagement?
For any organisation to operate effectively and achieve its goals and objectives, having a workforce that is engaged will be critical. Leading organisations and brands across the world invest millions in training and developing their staff. There are many benefits that can be achieved from having an fully engaged workforce that includes staff having a willingness to go that extra mile, a stronger belief in the organisation they work for, a team ethic, increased positivity, a can do attitude and passion in the work they perform.
How can social media improve staff engagement?
Social media is an invaluable tool for supporting conversations and gathering feedback. For healthcare organisations such as the NHS, social media can gather information about what is being said about them online. Feedback provides healthcare organisations with useful information about how they are performing and also drives the need to improve services continually.
Healthcare organisations have a difficult job and people’s health is a primary concern the UK government. Millions of conversations take place daily on healthcare related matters and the internet has lead to more people diagnosing themselves online. Social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter facilitate comments and conversations about healthcare related matters daily. With healthcare services continually under scrutiny, it is essential that what is being said online is monitored. Social media provides the opportunity for staff to engage with the conversations and listen to what is being said. Responding to feedback, answering questions and emphasising with the service users is how staff can engage. Healthcare organizations need feedback so they can improve services and ensure that negative experiences are improved. As more patients and service users are engaging online and in particular through social media, staff can lead the front line by engaging with patients and collecting important feedback.
Joining conversations through social media
Social media can help improve staff engagement by getting employees to join online conversations already taking place. Rather than starting conversations, staff can search for discussions taking place about their services online.
Google alerts can help the healthcare industry to monitor results around certain keywords by receiving regular alerts by email. Google alerts can help healthcare organisations such as the NHS to;
- Find out what is being said about their organisation and services
- Monitor a developing news stories
- See what else is happening within the healthcare industry
- Find out what is being said about their organisation
Facebook and Twitter
Social media platforms such Facebook, Twitter and Google + can be important platforms for collecting patient and customer feedback. Facebook alone has over 34 million UK users and more companies now use Facebook as a platform for engaging with their audience and collecting feedback. More patients now use social media platforms to leave feedback. For organisations with Facebook pages, it provides a vehicle for collecting both positive and negative feedback about their services. Positive feedback that is collected regarding staff or services should be given to the team. Healthcare organisations can relay positive feedback to teams and individuals at team briefings and through newsletters. Communicating positive feedback to staff collected from social media platforms can help to cultivate positivity and build staff engagement within the organisation.
The same principals work for negative feedback. Without feedback of any kind, organisations will not be able to improve services. Social media is a vital digital engagement platform for both patient and staff engagement. Negative comments can be collected and discussed at team meetings where staff can be fully involved in delivering a solution. By responding to the patient who left the negative comment with a solution or positive response, the organisation can improve its customer service whilst delivering better patient care. From a staff engagement point of view, involving staff in the decision making drives staff engagement whilst achieving organisational goals such as personal development, great leadership and improved service delivery.
Starting Conversations through social media
Social media provides organisations with the chance to improve staff engagement through joining conversations already taking place on online. As well as using social media content, finding conversations that are relevant to them and being a contributor, healthcare organisations can also produce their own content to improve and drive staff engagement.
Healthcare organisations such as the NHS can use social media tools to post videos, post content and write blog posts as a means of starting conversations to give staff feedback. Whether thanking staff personally, reviewing services or talking about healthcare issues, starting conversations through social media can help drive staff engagement by asking for feedback. There are however pitfalls to asking for feedback on digital engagement platforms that can be accessed by the media and public. The intricate nature of patient care and the need for patient confidentially should be treated with due care. There are privacy issues with social media and procedures should be in put in place to get the right balance between what content is open to the public and what is private to the organisation.
The program keeping Britain Alive currently airing on the BBC shows a Day in the life of the NHS. From saving lives to treating people with every illness imaginable, offering constant moral support, helping people pass away with dignity and caring for the growing UK population every minute and every day, Healthcare organisations such as the NHS and the many other local providers really do an incredible job. With the growing number of health issues affecting the population, the job is that much harder. Traditional media avenues for collecting feedback and getting messages are failing due the fact that more people are communicating online.
Social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter can improve staff engagement, by making public the daily successes achieved by healthcare staff. As well as providing a platform for receiving recognition from peers and the public, social media can help drive both patient and staff engagement together. There are many great examples of healthcare organisations driving staff and patient engagement through social media. Social media can also strengthen an organisations social media brand. The Diabetes Awareness Ribbon Facebook page has a community of over 750,000 members with many brand advocates championing the organisation through social media. There is no question that social media is now an integral platform for improving both staff and patient engagement.