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From illuminating case studies to interactive workbooks, improve overall well-being and inform cultural best practices at your organization with these essential healthcare resources.
Dr. Bonnie Clipper, DNP, MA, MBA, RN, CENP, FACHE
Gamification is the use of game-like elements such as competition, scoring, and status in a non-game environment to encourage participation, such as to complete a task (or improve compliance) (Merriam-Webster, 2019). There are many common gamified platforms that are already part of our daily lives, you may even be using them. Some examples of these applications (apps) include Starbucks, frequent flyer accounts, hotel chains, retailers and even some of your favorite restaurant providers.
An app or platform designed with gamification is a tool that can be used to change behaviors and improve a variety of unique challenges, and in healthcare, this means both patient and non-patient scenarios. Use cases for patients may include using a gamified platform to improve daily glucometer readings or medication regimens. In the case of a gamified platform that improves medication compliance, the “behavior” is taking all the prescribed medications at the right time, and as a result of completing the desired behavior, the patient may be rewarded with points or a higher status which is visible on the dashboard.
Non-patient use cases could include using gamified, technological platforms to mitigate the impact of clinician burnout or improving employee engagement. Utilizing a gamified platform to reward for the desired behaviors is a way to encourage behavior changes. Over time, engagement in a gamified platform can lead to small behavior changes as end-users learn how to modify their behaviors in order to “perform better” in the platform. For example, patients sharing gratitude, recognition and positive comments allows end-users (nurses, physicians, and other health care professionals) to attain a “better” status and achieve more points so naturally, end-users learn to modify their behavior to earn the points and rewards displayed in the dashboard. Integrity in a system such as this is always paramount to ensure the authenticity of feedback and not a literal “gaming” of the system, like reliability and validity testing.
The goal of a gamified approach is to engage staff in a platform/app that has identified goals/objectives so that the micro-behavior changes provide the desired outcomes. In the example of improving the patient experience or increasing employee engagement, when team members check into a gamified platform, the experience for them should be as positive as possible. This means that notes of gratitude from patients and positive comments from peers generate more points or propel them towards a “higher” status in the platform. In turn, the notes of gratitude and positive comments really do impact the user’s overall sense of being appreciated and valued. Behaviors can change even faster when people see tangible benefits in conjunction with those visible in the dashboard, such as if a certain number of points or if a specific status can provide access to a free coffee or drink in the cafeteria, VIP parking, or something of perceived value. The blend of seeing improved performance in the gamified platform dashboard and the impact of a concrete token of appreciation is a combination that drives behavior in a favorable way.
Because this technology is relatively new in healthcare, there is a learning curve for organizations that use it. This learning curve is dependent upon the comfort level of individual users, patients, and staff, with technology in general. Speaking from our own experience, we tend to see younger staff who are more tech-savvy feel more comfortable jumping into a gamified platform and beginning to use it in their workflows on a regular basis fairly quickly, while the other staff has to develop a comfort level with the technology before using it on a regular basis. Gamified platforms do not have to “de-humanize” the experience, but rather they can be used to supplement or enhance it. If gamification can improve the patient experience and employee engagement, consider giving it a try.
Merriam-Webster. (2019). Definition of gamification. Accessed on January 30, 2020. Accessed at https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/gamification.
Ashley Eddings, MBA, SSGB
Alright – let’s just get this out of the way. I am a millennial. And a proud one at that. But if we’re honest, millennials tend to get a bad rap, especially as it pertains to the workplace. Many labels exist; however, organizations must think about how they can work to understand this generation and their impact, and once that understanding occurs, take steps to meet millennials where they are. In doing so, it can increase their engagement and likelihood of staying with an organization, which in turn impacts the organization’s bottom line. Small steps should be taken to tap into the mindset of millennials and create ways of appreciating them to ultimately achieve success.
In Gallup’s (2016) report on how millennials want to work, it details their findings of millennials as employees. It is increasingly important for organizations to work to better understand millennials as this generation has topped Baby Boomers as the largest population segment at 73 million (Crbkovich & Clarin, 2019). The percentage of millennials in the workforce will continue to grow over the years, thus organizations must act now to restructure their business models and workplace culture to appeal to this rising generation.
Furthermore, Gallup’s report indicates that 55% of millennials are not engaged at work. When employees are disengaged, there is ample opportunity for high turnover, low staff and patient satisfaction scores, poor morale, and deterioration of profitability and innovation. Moreover, “millennials’ lack of engagement costs the U.S. economy hundreds of billions of dollars annually in lost productivity” (Gallup, 2016, p. 10).
If there is no movement to understanding millennials, the economy, the workplace, and even worse, the millennial generation, could suffer as a result.
What do we do with this information? It is vital to not only know the current landscape, but to also learn ways to navigate toward understanding millennials as employees and keeping them engaged. Many organizations and leaders make a valiant effort to seek to understand this generation and try to interpret what they are looking for, so the workplace thrives. To help in this endeavor, here are some highly prized workplace attributes that are valued by millennials (Gallup, 2016):
Recognizing who millennials are as people and employees, and avoiding stereotypes, is crucial. Knowing who they are as individuals helps increase understanding of how this incredible group wants to be regarded in the workplace, how they select organizations and roles, how they will perform, and how engaged they will be. Gallup (2016) attests to this by stating “When companies fail to understand and value the millennial mindset, they fail to create work environments that attract and retain this group” (p. 17).
As a leader, consider how you can better serve your millennial employees. Can you have more frequent, meaningful interactions with them? Can you recognize them more often for a job well done? Or maybe, can you help them develop their strengths and find a greater purpose in their role? Let me know how you intend to reach this rising, purpose-driven generation.
Crbkovich, P., & Clarin, D. (2019). How millennials are reshaping healthcare’s future. Retrieved from https://www.kaufmanhall.com/ideas-resources/ebook/how-millennials-are-reshaping-healthcares-future.
Gallup (2016). How millennials want to work and live. Retrieved from https://www.gallup.com/workplace/238073/millennials-work-live.aspx
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Once again, the alarms have sounded regarding the impact that burnout is having on our clinicians. This is incredibly important to our health care system. There has been much agreement about how we define burnout, the effects of burnout and even recommendations on how to reduce burnout. It has been stated multiple times that burnout decreases a clinician’s quality of life, their performance, and even the likelihood that they will stay in their job. While burnout continues to be a top challenge among clinical professionals, there is a shortage of evidence regarding the tactics to change our cultures in order to make scalable and sustainable changes. In a study of more than 400 nurses across 11 hospitals in Jordan, the nurses showed evidence of burnout and the researchers worked to identify ways to mitigate its effects (Mudallal, Othman & Al Hassan, 2017).
While this study was not unique, it demonstrated that an increased level of trust by staff, of their leaders, and an increase in empowerment can improve satisfaction, quality of care, and positively impact the effects of burnout. As we know, when leaders use behaviors that are more likely to empower their team, it creates a positive work environment. The authors describe leadership empowering behaviors that are perceived positively by employees. While the study describes the impact of an organization in Jordan, there are lessons that can be applied universally. There are some great takeaways that can be introduced into the workplace that will make it more positive. These are easier said than done, however well worth a try.
(Mudallal, Othman & Al Hassan, 2017, para. 5)
Consider the impact on work environments when we, as leaders, find ways to make micro-changes to our own behaviors to allow our team to feel a more positive work environment as a result. Some of these changes are as simple as asking for more input or insight prior to making a decision, while some are more difficult behaviors to change. In order to reduce the unsustainable effects of burnout, we should determine which of these behaviors we are going to try first and begin testing the impact on us as leaders, on our work environments, and ultimately, in our organizational cultures. I too am a work in progress. As Mahatma Gandhi stated, let’s make the commitment to “Be the change that you wish to see…”.
Mudallal, R.H., Othman, W.M., & Al Hassan, N.F. (January 1, 2017). Nurses’ Burnout: The Influence of Leader Empowering Behaviors, Work Conditions, and Demographic Traits. Inquiry. 54. Accessed on November 22, 2019. Accessed at https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5798741/.
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