I’m mostly a fiction reader, but I have a particular affinity for the strategy and management articles in Harvard Business Review, despite neither attending Harvard (fallback school) nor having a business degree.
In their Nov. 8 Harvard Business Review article on not letting purpose get lost in the daily grind, Lisa Earle McLeod and Elizabeth Lotardo argue that, like parenting or teaching, even the most noble of professions can struggle to keep a feeling of higher purpose alive because employees are managing an onslaught of daily tasks.
Health care has long been a profession with a higher calling and purpose. Whether one works in direct patient care, in administration, or for a company that supports direct patient care, the connection to personal impact – on someone’s life or well-being – is usually a short and straight line. Post-COVID, however, with increased distrust of the health care establishment, growing violence against health care workers, and rising levels of exhaustion and burnout among health care workers themselves, many are finding themselves at a greater distance from the personal, meaningful impact.
This article didn’t talk about health care at all, but the recommendations to re-connect anyone who works directly or indirectly in health care to the meaning of the work are apropos:
- Articulate the ripple effect of people’s work. Take the time to support employees in articulating how their efforts impact others.
- Reframe your measures of success. We can’t abandon quantitative metrics; in health care, performance metrics have taken on a new importance as they increasingly are tied to payment. But, framing numbers and data in terms of human impact creates more emotional engagement.
- Celebrate external impact. Your team knows what you value by what you celebrate.
None of these recommendations are earth shattering. But, they are a good reminder for health care leaders of the imperative to take time to connect every employee’s work to the higher purpose of alleviating pain, providing comfort and compassion in a dark hour, and sustaining life.