1. Lockhart, Lisa MHA, MSN, RN, NE-BC

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Q: What are some essential staff engagement tools?

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A: Staff engagement tools are utilized at every leadership level to facilitate change. In fact, engagement is critical to successful and sustained change in any organization. In today's difficult climate with the healthcare landscape rapidly changing and the ongoing challenges of budget restraints, pay for performance, quality considerations, and staffing shortages, organizational leaders must understand the engagement level of their staff, harness that engagement, grow it within all levels of the organization, and assist staff members to drive the needed changes to stay safe, productive, and strategically on track.


There are surveys that can assist with measuring staff engagement, such as the National Database of Nursing Quality Indicators(R) (NDNQI(R)), and the Gallup and Press Ganey surveys. The NDNQI measures nurse satisfaction, nurse retention, patient satisfaction, and patient outcomes. (For more information on the NDNQI, read our March/April Ask an Expert column "Measuring Nursing's Impact.") The surveys investigate staff members' perceptions of their sense of control over their work environment, their sense of appreciation and value from supervisors and managers, and their overall views of the organization.


With engagement knowledge in hand, what tools can we use to improve the key markers of nurse and patient satisfaction, nursing turnover, and quality outcomes? Magnet(R) recognition has been looked at extensively as a driver of engagement. Magnet hospitals demonstrate improved staff engagement throughout the organization. The development of team empowerment fosters a vested interest in the organization and its outcomes. Shared governance is the finest example of a tool that promotes engagement.


In addition to Magnet recognition, the Studer Group has made an empire out of teaching staff engagement principles, which have been widely accepted in healthcare. The tools taught by Studer include customer service instructions, face time with employees, rounding on staff with purposeful questions and intent, and timely and transparent feedback. Communication is a two-way process that involves listening to understand, not just to respond, and then responding with intent.


Regardless of the resource utilized by your organization, the main points are the same: effective and transparent communication, utilization of the team at the point of care to drive processes and improvements, and timely sharing of data and outcomes. By understanding the essentials of staff engagement, we can move our organizations forward, embrace evidence-based practice, and promote safety and a just culture.




Neuhauser DM. Impact of staff engagement on nurse satisfaction/retention and patient outcomes of patient satisfaction and NDNQI indicators.


Nursing Times. Staff engagement: an essential ingredient for good management.


Studer Group. Employee engagement in healthcare.