The Importance of a Culture of Belonging in ASCs

The Importance of a Culture of Belonging in ASCs

Erica Smith
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As the demand for skilled healthcare professionals continues to escalate, ambulatory surgery center administrators find themselves amidst a labor market characterized by aggressive recruiting tactics and labor shortages. The current state of the market, still marked by the impact of the recent “Great Resignation,” accentuates the urgency for ASC leaders to address staffing concerns.

Recent surveys indicate that a substantial 80 percent of today’s workforce views an organization’s culture of belonging as a vital factor in their employment decision-making process. Recognizing the changing preferences of younger surgical staff in particular, traditional recruiting messages will have to evolve to more closely align with values important to millennials, such as work-life balance, diversity, and organizational mission and vision.

With a healthcare labor market that still permeates burnout, especially after an all too difficult pandemic, the quest for fostering a culture of belonging within ASCs isn’t merely an altruistic endeavor but a strategic business imperative. For example, a study conducted by BetterUp revealed that fostering workplace belonging can yield substantial benefits, including a 56% improvement in job performance, a 50% reduction in turnover risk, and a remarkable 75% decrease in employee sick days. This highlights the measurable impact that a culture of belonging can have on both workforce performance and overall organizational success.

ASCs that prioritize diversity, inclusion, and belonging tend to inspire their employees to not only work more diligently but also stay with the organization for longer durations, evolving into more cohesive and collaborative team players. A true commitment to this culture from the administration’s end leads to an enhanced level of discretionary effort among employees, potentially culminating in elevated retention rates.

Moreover, diversity’s influence isn’t restricted to employee morale but rather extends to how an organization operates. A diverse workforce within ASCs possesses a unique advantage – the ability to design systems and patient experiences that cater to a wide spectrum of individuals with distinct clinical needs and outcomes.

For instance, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) reports 21% of the U.S. population speaks a non-English language at home, with 9% having limited English proficiency. What’s more, it’s expected that over 40% of the U.S. population will be comprised of minority Americans by 2035.

Thus, as the patient population served by many ASCs becomes increasingly diverse, the ability to understand and respond to these varying needs becomes pivotal for delivering high-quality surgical care. A culture of belonging enhances a facility’s capacity to provide personalized and patient-centered services, ultimately with the goal of creating a positive impact on clinical outcomes.

However, implementing substantial changes, such as creating a culture of belonging, is not without its challenges. Resistance to change can manifest in various forms, from passive resistance to overt hostility, and it may even lead to reduced effort among team members.

To ensure the success of such initiatives, both administrators and clinical leaders must proactively anticipate and understand the sources of resistance. Addressing the underlying causes requires a multifaceted approach, which may involve engaging sponsors, customizing communication strategies, and modifying roles within the organization to create a more inclusive and welcoming environment.

Furthermore, a data-driven approach is at the core of creating a culture of belonging in ASCs. Collecting data through tools such as employee experience surveys, focus groups, and interviews provides valuable insights into how different employee groups perceive the organization’s culture.

The analysis of this data helps in identifying specific areas that may require improvement and aids in understanding the differential impact on various segments within the organization. This ensures that the efforts to foster a culture of belonging are rooted in a solid understanding of the organization’s current state and the experiences of its staff.

Overall, to successfully instill this culture in your ASC, it’s essential to follow a structured approach. This involves securing proper sponsorship from leadership to acquire resources and garner support, defining a clear mission and objectives for the initiative, establishing transparent governance for employee resource groups with specific guidelines, and potentially forming a steering committee for larger organizations with multiple groups to ensure alignment with the broader inclusion objective. Regular, continuous measurement of the impact of these inclusion efforts is crucial to assess their effectiveness in achieving the intended goals and maintaining a thriving culture of belonging.

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