Healthcare HR is a demanding role that requires professionals to balance both the needs of the company and the needs of the staff. This balancing act isn’t always a cake walk, and HR tends to have a hard time shaking the stigma as being the department of “no” and “you can’t do that.”
Yet, employee advocacy is an integral part of healthcare HR’s role. If employees carry a stigma about what HR really means for them and what it’s there for, how does one encourage staff to be forthcoming about their needs?
The answer is easier said than done. Fostering an environment of openness and approachability cultivates trust and sends the message to employees you’re willing to listen. Commonly it's actions, rather than words, that signal you’re ready to listen and be an advocate. Though remaining constantly aware of your actions isn’t always easy, here are a few small behaviors that are easy to put into practice and can have an impact on employee perception of your role as a healthcare HR professional.
Be genuinely curious.
People love talking about themselves. In fact, one study out of Harvard showed that talking about oneself triggers the same pleasure responses in our brains as food and money.
Getting people to open up to you can be as simple as giving them an opportunity to talk about themselves. Ask thoughtful questions about their work, their lives, and their ambitions, and engage in active listening. Many times, we’ll craft responses in our heads long before the other person has had a chance to finish what they have to say. Instead, focus on the moment and be a captive audience.
By being genuinely interested, you capitalize on our psychological thirst for the #humblebrag and, in turn, make yourself more open and approachable in the process.
Focus on the small acts of kindness.
Sometimes, it’s the simple things in life that make people feel valued and appreciated. A quick, handwritten congratulatory note to the physician who had her groundbreaking research published, or a held door for a coworker with his hands full… these simple gestures can create a lasting impact on people.
Be a little selfish (in a good way).
Focusing on your own self-improvement, wellness, and growth isn’t selfish, actually. Giving your best self to others means first being the best version of yourself. Being present in the moment when you’re engaging with others signals to them that you’re listening and that you care, but that can be difficult to do if you have other stresses on your mind. Take time and allow yourself to tend to your physical and emotional needs. This way, you can be fully present when you're needed.
Be a force of calm.
It’s easy to allow external variables to dictate how we feel, react to, and perceive our situations. The reality is that we’re in full control of our emotions, and how we react can have a direct impact on how others react, as well.
Take tough situations where, for instance, you have to terminate an employee. The tensions are high and emotions can range from denial to anger and even outright rage. But if you are calm, tempered, and fair, your reputation will precede you.
Lead by example with calmness, kindness, and empathy, and people will learn to expect it and respect you for it.
When you work in healthcare, you’re inevitably surrounded by a few smart cookies, and being surrounding by smart people can leave you wondering: what can I do to assert that I’m a smart cookie, too? Undoubtedly, you are, but perhaps there is a better approach: simply humble yourself. Ask instead, what can I learn from this person to further my knowledge and understanding? With some luck, they’ll return the favor and you’ll gain mutual respect organically.
We talk to a lot of healthcare HR professionals who say that Primary Source verification takes up more of their time than they’d like it to. If you feel that way, too, download our e-book, The 7 Best Practices for License Verification, for tips and insights to streamline and optimize the process.