Diagnosing the Workplace Culture Problem in Healthcare

It’s a tough pill to swallow, but here’s the truth: the healthcare industry has a workplace culture problem. Through its platform, Emtrain has conducted multiple surveys on healthcare professionals all across the country. Together, they paint a picture of an unhealthy culture throughout the medical industry. Over numerous culture indicators, healthcare companies consistently lag behind other businesses:

  • 41% of healthcare professionals feel respected in their workplace vs. 59% of workers in other industries
  • 23% of healthcare workers report that their team acknowledges their contributions as opposed to 42% of employees who feel acknowledged in other industries
  • In terms of diversity, about 30% of workers across various industries state that their team values them for the ways they are different
    • In healthcare, that number is roughly 20%

These workplace culture problems can be even worse for people who identify as part of an underrepresented group. A survey of roughly 3500 medical professionals found that women and minorities tended to rank their organization as less culturally competent compared to their white male colleagues. Diversity-wise, the healthcare industry also has a long way to go in matching demographics of the greater population. According to the University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences, 56% of physicians and  75% of nurses are white.

Across the healthcare industry, workers are calling out for greater attention to DEI and a more supportive work environment.

Why Workplace Culture Is Important in Healthcare

Questions of respect, acknowledgement, and diversity are so important in the healthcare industry because they directly impact a company’s effectiveness. The logic is simple: a team that works better together will provide better care to its patients. This intuitive conclusion is backed up by data as well. An academic study found that medical teams with balanced participation, open communication, and adherence to shared values (teams, in other words, with strong culture) delivered superior care for patients with chronic illnesses.

Recently, much attention has been given to the problem of racial disparities in healthcare. By and large, people of color and minority groups tend to experience worse healthcare outcomes than their white counterparts. The causes of this problem are myriad, deeply entwined with structural racism and poverty. One of the solutions, however, is creating a culture within the healthcare industry that cares about DEI. This can take many forms, from hiring a more diverse population of doctors and nurses to training healthcare professionals on the relationship between racism and illness. Again, as we see, the culture of healthcare organizations matters.

Improving Workplace Culture in Healthcare

There are many things a healthcare company can do to improve its workplace culture. One of the foremost is to set explicit guidelines for how people in the workplace should treat each other. Healthcare is a high-stakes environment and the stress can sometimes cause people to act rudely or ignore others. Simply reminding everyone to take other’s opinions into account and to act respectfully towards – no matter how stressful things get – can have a surprisingly substantial impact on workplace culture. These guidelines do not just have to apply to interactions between coworkers. The stresses of medical treatment can affect patients as well, making them lash out. Training healthcare workers how to maintain professionalism and deliver high quality care during these situations could go a long way to solving this problem.

Another way to promote a positive workplace culture in healthcare is to monitor for signs of exclusion. This is particularly pertinent for managers, who are often responsible for setting the tone of the culture. Managers can track who tends to keep silent during meetings and then encourage those people to speak up. Doing so will promote inclusion and ensure that an issue gets as many perspectives as possible. 

Managers can also encourage people to practice active listening. It’s easy sometimes to ignore what our coworkers are saying, but active listening demands that you hear other’s out with an open mind and genuine interest. By encouraging people to pay attention and reserve judgment, managers can work to enhance the quality of workplace communication.

Whatever strategy you use to improve your workplace culture, Emtrain is here to help. To find out how Emtrain can elevate the culture at your work, contact us and learn more about our new microlessons specifically geared towards the healthcare industry.


deihealthcaremedicineWorkplace Culture
Jacob Halabe
Marketing Intern, Emtrain
View bio

Stay up to date with our blog posts!

Subscribe