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The ROI of Culture: Combating the Labor Shortage

May 9, 2022

Toxic company culture is the No. 1 reason workers are quitting jobs, survey findsCNBC

Coming out of the 2022 ADSO summit, one of the key takeaways was that company culture is critical and material enough in today’s environment for even CFOs to be talking about it. When it comes to culture, however, things can be ambiguous. So let’s take care of that.

Company culture is the group norms and shared assumptions that guide actions. It is how your employees feel, behave and treat one another, and it can be consciously and strategically fostered or bred from the unconscious and passive behaviors of leaders.

Culture is born of the implicit and explicit, the rules and regulations your employees are to abide by, everyday behaviors and language, what you reward and celebrate, and what goes ignored.

Good or bad, intentional or not, your company has a culture, and it starts at the top because, as Harvard Business Review explains, following the leader is human nature. When leaders learn to leverage this, it becomes a competitive advantage. “They [leaders] motivate us to go places that we would never otherwise go. They are needed both to change organizations and to produce results. In any business climate, good leadership is perhaps the most important competitive advantage a company can have.”

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    Your Returns: Culture as a Competitive Advantage

    Culture and strategy go hand in hand as one helps drive the other. You can steer your team in the right direction by reverse engineering your culture, guiding operations and aligning teams with your objectives and values.

    As we stated in Notes from the 2022 ADSO, a company culture focused on employee well-being and creates an environment where employees want to work and open candid dialogue is encouraged will help you attract and retain employees and improve performance.

    Companies with employee engagement enjoy 233% higher customer loyalty than those who don’t—The Aberdeen Group, Employee Engagement: Paving the Way to Happy Customers

    The Aberdeen Group’s report outlines the business benefits of taking a strategic approach to employee engagement and how it can lead to improved customer service, a higher customer loyalty rate, and increased revenue. In fact, businesses that created structured employee engagement programs saw a 26% increase in annual company revenue year-over-year.

    Culture for Scalability

    As your business looks to increase office efficiencies and create a scalable structure, it will inevitably need to leverage technology to implement more mature and effective standard business practices. Developing a culture of change acceptance, trust, and open communication ensures your people respond with the right attitudes, behaviors, and actions that support your company’s growth and development.

    Ultimately, by proactively fostering the right company culture, you can safeguard your long-term viability and create the framework for scalability—streamlined processes and best practices that minimize your overhead and free up your human and capital resources that so you can redirect them to drive growth and optimize profits.

    How to Foster Your Company Culture

    Culture can be a silent killer. After all, the squeezy wheel gets the grease. Processing payroll, ordering supplies, taking care of patients—there’s a long list of seeming priorities that get in the way of taking time out to look forward, strategize and develop a plan for employee engagement and culture building.

    However, creating the right company culture that will carry you forward into a better tomorrow is a job for owners that is not to be passed on. You’ll need to commit, dedicate time and take intentional steps to get there. Here are a few action items to get you on your way.

    Survey Your Starting Ground

    Before forging ahead, you’ll want to gain some clarity on what your culture is and how you’re doing as a leader. Then, you can look at where you want it to go and devise a plan to get there. So take some time to take the pulse of your brand, people, processes, and patients.

    To gain honest feedback, consider putting out some anonymous surveys to patients and employees. When discussing in person with employees, ensure to encourage open and honest communication. This is a good opportunity to start course correcting, so remember to lead the way with honesty. If things have been tense or an issue has gone unresolved, speak to it. Let employees know you see the problem and plan to resolve it.

    As we said before, culture stems from the implicit and explicit, so you’ll want to look at both.

    How is your workplace etiquette? Do you greet your employees every morning? When was the last time you checked in on them? Who do you praise, or reward, and for what? Do you spend your days growling and grumping or smiling and persevering? Are you forward-minded and open to change? Are you proactive or purely reactive?

    What kind of remuneration, incentive programs, or reward systems do you have in place? Have you established any best practices, and if so, are employees following them?

    Where are your shortcomings, as a leader, employer, and health provider, and are you working to improve upon them? Are you leading by example and ensuring your and your employee’s actions are guided by patient-centric values?

    Now how about your team? How do your employees feel as they walk into the office every morning or leave every night? Are they communicating issues or burying them? Are you all in the trenches, fighting the daily battles together, or fighting one another instead?

    How is your patient interaction? Are you maintaining customer loyalty? What’s the general feeling your patients have coming into your office? And tellingly, are they likely to refer you?

    And how about your business partners? Are your suppliers treating you right and delivering the best service at their best price or taking advantage of your inattention to increase prices?

    Adjust Your Trajectory

    Ultimately you’re looking to set the rules of engagement so your employees know how to behave, what you care about and stand for, and critically, what you and your patients expect of them. Actions should be intentional; your employees should be able to tell you why they do what they do.

    Not only do you want to think about where you want the company to go, but also its people. To keep top talent, you’ll want to ensure individual professional growth through education and training programs that align with employees’ goals.

    Once you find your gaps, remember to be pragmatic in setting goals and planning your path forward. Look for the ripe fruit and prioritize your must-win battles that will have the largest, most critical impacts on customer care or employee retention.

    Communicate, Govern, Repeat

    Culture is dynamic and ever-changing. Fostering it requires constant communication, pulse taking, and redirection when you fall off course. Practice owners need to clearly articulate their goals and bring employees into the fold by letting them be a part of the solution.

    Remember to say what you do and do what you say. Although written company mission and value statements are great, as are awards, incentive programs, and pizza parties, all must align with your actions, verbal communication, and feedback.

    For continued improvement, ensure you have a critical path for problem resolution, get to the root of the issue, implement corrective action and follow up to verify effectiveness.

    Now rinse and repeat with regular overviews taking a hard, honest look at how your culture is being lived, how you and other leaders are doing in leading by example, and how it’s impacting your employees’ well-being and patient care. Are you consistently reinforcing your company values through your actions?

    Yes, culture is complex and requires effort, time, and financial resources. But the returns are great, resulting in happier, higher-performing teams, better patient care, and improved profits and scalability. So perhaps it’s time you take it seriously.

    Looking to implement best practices and scalable processes? Get in touch with our team to find out how Method can help.