The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic is a moment in history when the way we lived, worked and played seemingly changed in an instant. For many organizations, like Medxcel, this included a major overhaul in how we operated to not only continue delivering a high level of care, but also protect patients and staff at a time when we didn’t know much about the virus or how it spread.
These rapid changes are often the ultimate stress test for leadership teams, as they must be ready to pivot and support their teams at a moment’s notice, and possibly in ways they never before imagined. At Medxcel, we are extremely fortunate to have a dedicated workforce that is passionate about serving others, but this crisis forced us to pause and think about how we could use this moment to cultivate an ideal culture that is innovative, trustworthy and shows compassion and gratitude for those on the frontlines.
Communicate transparently as you get creative with resources
Communication is the key ingredient in ensuring any project, big or small, goes off without a hitch. However, during a crisis, it’s even more imperative to not only communicate with your team, but do so as transparently as possible. Think back to the early days of the pandemic. Many Americans were dealing with extreme levels of stress and anxiety for a multitude of reasons, including that their children were having to learn online or the possibility of whether or not they or their partner would be laid off from their jobs.
At Medxcel, we made it a top priority to be transparent with our staff about the ongoing changes happening internally and how they would ultimately impact their day-to-day operations. During the early days of the pandemic, we saw a major drop-off in volume. Instead of laying employees off, our teams had to get creative and figure out how we could redeploy our resources to meet the needs of patients. One way we did this was reallocating manpower during this time to create call centers where families could call in and check on the status of their loved ones in healthcare facilities. Not only did this provide a service to the community during a crisis, it also allowed us to retain staff, which could be redeployed to their original duties once demand recovered.
Build a foundation of trust
In addition to communication, trust from your staff and in your leaders within the organization is paramount in navigating any crisis. Without it, you are fighting an uphill battle, which inevitably impacts your ability to stay nimble and act quickly to solve problems. That’s why it was important for us to trust leaders within our organization during the COVID-19 pandemic and support their decisions along the way to protect staff and patients.
Another way our team built trust during this time was by continuing to hold our quarterly town halls to not only communicate company news, but also celebrate the hard work and dedication our teams put into serving our communities day-in and day-out. Our data shows that employee engagement in 2021 shot up to the 91st percentile during these sessions
, which contributed to a stronger company culture and better outcomes for customers.
Compassion and gratitude can go a long way
Our staff worked long, grueling hours on the frontlines of this pandemic, and that undoubtedly came with many feeling overwhelmed, anxious and burnt out. Because many of us in leadership are not clinicians and can’t step in to relieve them of their duties, we must find ways to offer our workforce opportunities to step back and take a breath when they need it or continually show them how much they are appreciated.
Medxcel worked to connect our staff with counseling services during this time so they could have someone to talk to and debrief from the emotional toll a shift may have left on them. We also created spaces within healthcare facilities where they could go to take time for themselves and disconnect for a short while before being thrust back into the nonstop grind.
It’s also important to note that there is never a limit on how much you can thank your workforce and show them your gratitude for their hard work. Whether it’s a handwritten letter or a verbal appreciation for their efforts, it will go a long way with your staff to let them know how much they are valued within your organization.
A crisis has the potential to emerge at any point in time and it will force you to quickly pivot your operations to weather the storm. These situations give us the chance to evaluate our culture and how we effectively lead our organization so we can continue to grow and stand ready to tackle the next bump in the road.
To learn more about the importance of solid leadership during a crisis like the COVID-19 pandemic, check out Season 2, Episode 7 of our podcast, Outside the Patient’s Door
: “When Best Practices Don’t Apply with Matt Troup and Michael Burgett