The Power of a Connected Culture Through Times of Change 

Updated on March 24, 2024
Group of healthcare workers attending a meeting in the hospital.

Economic Stakes

The economic challenges created by staffing shortages, high turnover, and the escalating cost of third-party staffing are clear and undeniable. By observing their impact on patient experience and clinical quality, their holistic impact on healthcare providers becomes apparent—and raises concerns. Lower staff levels and disengaged staff can lead to increased medication errors, wound infections, patient falls, and patient mortality. Staffing shortages, however, are not the only issues facing healthcare leaders. With the shift to value-based care and changes in guidance from CMS, healthcare organizations often are pivoting. Much like the walloping impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, there are unknown issues waiting for leaders on the horizon, too. So, what are leaders of a dynamic industry to do when it comes to staying nimble, navigating change, and being an employer of choice? As nebulous as this may sound, the answer is culture.

Impact of Culture

According to Gallup, only 20% of employees feel connected to their company’s culture. They note, “Culture aligns your workforce and points it at the outcomes that matter … ensuring everyone is pulling in the same direction.” A positive workplace culture is critical to any healthcare organization looking to foster collaboration, surface solutions to challenges, and better serve their patients—leading to improved outcomes. These better outcomes mean being ready to change on a dime if needed. 

Building a positive workplace culture takes dedication, and when doing so, it starts a vicious cycle of attracting, delivering, and retaining quality staff. A strong culture drives an organization’s agility to manage ever-present change, provides energy to power teams through volume surges, and builds confidence in the promise of the future. Through our work, we at FORVIS have seen the benefits of a positive workplace culture, most notably in organizations with a positive culture anchored by trust. For example, physician enterprises with high levels of trust most readily navigate change and more effectively address sensitive issues such as physician compensation. Trust enables transparent communication, and those organizations who remained resilient after turmoil were those with a strong, positive culture where stakeholders felt seen and heard, in addition to trusting the results of data analysis and leadership decisions. Leaders who are embarking on a planned change or who are marching up an unknown hill need a team who trust them to make the best choices based on the known circumstances. 

Insight, Intelligence, & Impact

As you navigate future change through maintaining a strong culture, consider following a straightforward, three-step approach to building your own connected culture that centers on insight, intelligence, and impact. 

  • Insight: Building insight into your own personal work style is imperative. As a leader, how do you show up at work for those that you lead? An individual’s work style is comprised of personality type, emotional intelligence, and in times of acute change—your response to change. Given the operational intensity and mission orientation of healthcare, that work style will be challenged and constantly monitored. 
  • Intelligence: Understanding the true state of the workforce is invaluable. That doesn’t come through satisfaction surveys or ad hoc focus groups. With the assistance of validated, research-based survey instruments, leaders can obtain an understanding of twelve measurables that, if closely managed, can drive out change resistance and be a catalyst for change effectiveness. Obtaining and processing intelligence about their workforce, and identifying the root causes behind change-related challenges including burnout and confidence levels. 
  • Impact: Insight and intelligence are critical. However, without commitment to having a positive impact on the culture of the organization, a “connected” culture is impossible to achieve. But leaders can drive this impact if they are willing to invest—first in themselves followed by the larger leadership team—with formal professional development focused on building the leadership capability to build a connected culture through times of dramatic change. 

The challenges presented by the evolving dynamics in the healthcare industry are not going away. Leaders must push forward by advocating for and creating a culture that encourages trust, communication, and the ability to navigate change. Building your own connected culture breathes energy into an organization and provides support during the unknown.

Scott Spohn copy
Scott Spohn
Managing Director in the Healthcare Consulting Practice at FORVIS

Scott is a managing director in the Healthcare Consulting Practice at FORVIS. As a leader in Organizational Health, his work is designed to successfully guide people and organizations through and beyond change by providing complex change management offerings to support significant business transformations or executing targeted senior leadership development programs to address emerging strategic issues. He was the original architect of the innovation acceleration products and led the development and rollout of the proprietary change analytics platform—Clari3ty®.

Tara Theodossis
Tara Theodossis
Partner at FORVIS

As a partner with FORVIS’ Healthcare Practice, Tara connects healthcare clients with talented professionals who provide tax solutions, ranging from physician individual tax planning to multistate physician practices and healthcare systems. She regularly assists with compensation modeling and productivity calculations, buy-ins and buy-outs, financial statement analysis, and other consulting services.