Most people have heard of a chief executive officer, but the title of “chief energy officer” might be new to them. Although it may sound like an executive who works in the field of energy, the phrase actually reflects the push in management and leadership studies for executives and supervisors to motivate their employees in a more positive fashion. In a hospital, this type of CEO might focus not just on what the medical staff needs to do their jobs in terms of equipment but what kind of support and encouragement leads to the best performance. Becoming a chief energy officer is not just for those in the top management echelons. These types of positive, forward-thinking leaders are needed at every level in an organization.
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Working in healthcare is simultaneously enormously rewarding and enormously challenging. Doctors, nurses, and other hospital staff do vital, life-saving work under a huge amount of pressure. In most professions, an error might lead to unhappy customers, delays or costs to the company, but in healthcare, lives are at stake. Staff often work long hours with patients and families who are going through the most stressful experiences of their lives. Keeping staff morale high in this environment means ensuring that they have the tools they need to do their jobs, including enough employees, as well as positive energy and encouragement from supervisors.
Motivating Health Care Workers
Large-scale studies on what motivates health care workers consistently identify certain elements as important in keeping motivation high in hospitals. Among these are good pay and benefits and support for continuing education. Someone who steps into the role of chief energy officer in a health care setting should understand that being an effective leader involves integrating these types of findings into an understanding of the specific workplace and individuals involved. For example, some of the challenges faced by health care workers in a busy city hospital that sees many uninsured emergency room patients with serious injuries differ from those who work in a small town or in a facility that caters for wealthy individuals. Furthermore, individual workers will differ in terms of what motivates them. Chief energy officers who know their staff as people and not just employees will be better placed to stoke that energy.
Changing Roles in Management
An article in the Harvard Business Review argues that the main job of a leader is to energize and motivate the workforce. This is a far cry from the view of management as people who are out of touch with the day-to-day challenges of subordinates and reflects the changing nature of management and the workplace. Companies such as Google and Aetna have hired chief mindfulness officers while some consultants have rebranded themselves as chief inspiration officers. At the root of all of these is the recognition that a satisfied workforce is a productive workforce.
Whether they adopt words like energy, mindfulness or inspiration into their titles or not, health care administrators and CEOs can benefit from viewing leadership as an opportunity to motivate workers. Given the important work that is done daily in medical settings, a chief energy officer in a hospital can create an atmosphere that does not just make workers happier but saves lives.