Improve Employee Communication With Your Busy Caregivers

(Article by Sandy Yu originally appeared in EmployeeChannel.)

Caregivers are constantly on the go.This makes it even trickier to stay connected with these employees in today’s healthcare setting of staffing shortages and high turnover and increased productivity demands.

Their time constraints are so extreme, many of these professionals don’t take their regularly-scheduled breaks. This makes effective employee communication nearly impossible for leaders and internal communication.

But with the right strategy and approach, you can not only reach but connect with on-the-go caregivers. Here’s how three experts are already successfully communicating with their non-stop caregiver employees:

Respect their on-the-clock time’

Employee communication really stems from what your culture is as a whole. We have tremendous respect for our caregivers and the job they do, so communication is key. Because we have a no cell phone rule while caregivers are working with patients, it’s disrespectful to try call caregivers during a shift.

The No. 1 rule is, respect their time. Don’t call them regarding an administrative issue while they’re on shift, focusing on caring for patients. Instead, send emails and text messages that allow them to read and respond during sporadic breaks throughout the day.

Laura Tunberg, Owner at Visiting Angeles Reseda

Reach them where they are (hint: it’s not at a desk)

Caregivers place work demands, patients, and family members first — even at the cost of their own self-care. This means employee communication ranks even lower on the priority list, so it’s critical to reach them where they are.

Emotionally, put yourself in caregivers’ shoes. What information do they need? Is it updated policies while they’re in the field? Or do they want quick access to their paycheck? Maybe it’s even hearing from the CEO how much they matter to the organization. Finding out their needs allows you to communicate in a personalized way, which helps you connect with them emotionally.

Efficiency, no matter the employee communication channel, is critical. Caregivers are busy so be respectful of their time. Provide content in easy-to-consume snippets when it’s most relevant. Consider, if they spend 15 seconds reading your communications are they getting something out of the exchange?

Stefanie Lightman, Head of Communications at Limeade

Offer face-to-face meetings

Most caregivers I try to connect with are busy because they’re overwhelmed. An effective employee communication method is good old-fashioned face-to-face interaction. This can be done either during a lunch break, in-between patient care when possible, on the floor, or in the home.

It’s effective because most people will make time for you if you are right there, standing in front of them. However, this method works best for smaller amounts of information. It’s not for rolling out a new policy.

For larger, more important issues, like policy changes, training and compliance, or significant process changes, a more formalized employee communication method is required. This can be a formalized in-service day or session during a lunch break, or other designated break times. If you really want to emphasize the importance of the info, offer paid after-hours sessions to ensure all can be in attendance.

Rafael E. Salazar II, MHS, OTR/L, President and CEO of Rehab U Practice Solutions