The happiness factor in healthcare: A focus on the human experience design

Nicholas Webb

CEO, LeaderLogic, LLC

The happiness factor in healthcare: A focus on the human experience design

28 September 2022 | 8min

Quick Takes

  • Happy environments result in happy patients – it’s that simple

  • The most innovative organizations in the world are also the happiest because they focus on human experience design at all levels

  • Making the decision to prioritize happiness is often the one most difficult for healthcare leaders

Simply put, the success of your organization depends on your ability to create a happy culture. The happier the organization the more innovative it tends to be because employees feel connected to achieving the organization’s mission. In other words, it is time to start making happiness a priority before you lose your talent and your patients altogether.   

We had the privilege of meeting with Nicholas Webb, one of the world’s top innovation keynote speakers and innovator himself with over 40 awarded US patents. Nicholas shares his insights about the human experience design and the importance of happiness as a culture in your organization.

Watch the video or read the full article below.

1. What is human experience design and why should healthcare leaders care about it?

2. How does organizational happiness impact innovation and customer experience?

3. What actions can healthcare leaders do to build and foster a culture of happiness?

What is human experience design and why should healthcare leaders care about it?

Nicholas Webb:  When I wrote my book, What Customers Hate, I began to realize that you can’t make customers happy unless you make stakeholders happy. I wrote another book called “Happy Work” as a result because I got so excited about the fact that we can create a happy environment and happy environments result in happy patients.

A happy environment improves your Glassdoor ratings. 98% of potential employees will check you out on Glassdoor. Your Glassdoor ratings are the barrier to your organization’s success because you can’t succeed without great mission-critical talent. We can’t fix Glassdoor ratings until we fix the human experience. It is so important. 

When you think about this idea of human experience design, do it while improving the patient experience. This requires some cross-pollination across departments that own patient experience such as Human Resources (HR) and Marketing because they all have to be so much better than they ever were before.

Today, organizations are building formal happiness strategies that significantly increase the quality of work life through collaboration, listening sessions, and genuine commitments to reimagine virtually everything as it relates to employees’ work life. Therefore, we’ve done things like improve the quality of work life, and trying to improve the experience with our stakeholders but usually, the outcomes are misguided because we’re not given insights about what our patients and employees really care about. The most important focus for 2022 and beyond is focusing on the holistic approach of human experience design.

You can’t have happy employees if you have upset customers either. If you’ve ever worked in a situation where a patient’s waiting for an hour and a half, by the time they get to the caregiver, they’re mad. That day in and day out, listening to people vent on you about how broken the system is, hurts their quality of work life. 

We’re seeing droves of patient-facing stakeholders quitting today. We see the pressure amongst caregivers and all the peripheral staff around care going into other businesses because they’re getting paid more money, have better experiences and have better opportunities.

Key learnings in researching Happy Work to keep in mind when developing a happy work environment

In researching Happy Work, I discovered key things for you to keep in mind when developing a happy work environment. 

1. Employees must believe in your mission. This requires that we really build communication plans around our mission, so we’re constantly pushing the mission out in front of our stakeholders. Remember in the day in and day out of running transactions and running our organization, that we’re in this to deliver beautiful care to incredible humans. We’re in the business of delivering human care. What a great privilege that is, to impact other people’s lives that way. So as leaders, that should be a daily message. That should be something that is internally branded to remind us all that, yes, it can be stressful and yes, it can be hard, but we’re saving lives.

2. Your employees must feel like their work is part of their own evolutionary journey. In other words, they must feel that every day, in every way, they’re getting better because of their work. You can do this by building out personalized growth strategies for each individual employee.

  • Where do you want to be five years from now and how can we make that happen? 
  • What kind of educational gaps do you feel like you have that we can provide to help you become better at the work that you do? 

This is thinking about the employee from a personal and professional perspective and helping them build out personal growth strategies that have an amazing impact on quality of work life and job satisfaction.

3. Host listening sessions and town hall sessions to understand where the challenges are and what can we do to be able to improve the quality of work for everyone. In fact, some organizations today are building centers for enterprise happiness, where we are focusing on enterprise happiness as a priority.

4. Look at the financial impact. Even the most hardened executive who doesn’t understand the feel-good dynamic of what it means to have a happy workforce can’t ignore the financial impact. Every KPI (Key Performance Indicator) that we measure financially is positively impacted when we create a culture of happiness. 

So, if we want to get better insights, do a better job of serving patients, increase productivity – increase all of those things that we are led to do in our organization – it starts from the substrate and the foundation of happy employees.

How does organizational happiness impact innovation and customer experience?

Nicholas Webb:  I have been involved in innovation my entire professional career, over 40 years in my own work, starting out as a technologist. I invented one of the world’s smallest medical implants and one of the first wearable technologies, and that’s been 42 patents ago. What I found from being in the innovation space for all that time is that the most innovative organizations in the world are also the happiest.

“After 40 years of being in the innovation space and being awarded over 40 patents, I have learned that the most innovative organizations in the world are also the happiest”

Isn’t that interesting? So what’s the linkage between innovation and happiness? Well, it turns out that one of the keys to employee happiness is they want to feel and see evidentiary support on a regular basis. That their ideas, that is of their Genesis, were listened to and applied in their work.

When we are in the creative space, we are happy. However, most organizations don’t give the rank-and-file stakeholder the opportunity to innovate. As a result of that, they’re losing millions of dollars of great innovations that could easily be provided by these amazing stakeholders. 

It’s important that we realize that happy employees are collaborators, they’re co-creators, and they want to participate. They want to know something that’s really interesting. At my age, my dad told me, “Go to college, get a degree, work really, really hard, and trade your life, your time on this planet for cash.”

“Happy employees are collaborators, they’re co-creators and they want to participate”

Well, that’s not sustainable anymore, because today, no matter what generation you come from, you want to trade your time for a beautiful experience. Of course, you have to make money, but you want it to be a beautiful experience. That’s self-evolutionary, where you can see the impact. So, your ability to be happy at work has so much to do with your ability to trade your time for your ideas and seeing those ideas have a direct impact.

Happy employees absolutely communicate that happiness to the patients, which has a tremendous impact on the customer experience. It’s buoyant and fun. The day goes by. It makes it easier. It makes the patient more comfortable and at ease. So absolutely, a happy culture drives happy employees, and it drives innovation.

What actions can healthcare leaders do to build and foster a culture of happiness?

Nicholas Webb: The actions that healthcare leaders can take to build and foster a culture of happiness are as follows:

1. Make the decision to prioritize happiness. This decision is not easy because happiness seems so squishy and amorphous. It’s hard to get our heads around the idea of happiness. It’s easy to ignore it as an enterprise priority.

 So the first thing we have to do is make that decision to give it the importance that it deserves. Then much like the customer experience approach, we have to do that SOS approach.

What is our current state of happiness? Let’s go beyond outdated, inaccurate, and wrong employee satisfaction insights. Most employees believe that any employee satisfaction survey is being monitored by IT. They think that even if it’s an anonymous survey, they’re afraid that their answers could hurt their career pathways.

That means it is impossible for good employee surveys to be the only tool. They can be helpful, but again, employee satisfaction hackathons use a whole range of different data points to understand what it’s like to work there.  A big part of that begins with asking yourself some basic questions. 

  • What do you think? 
  • Are we looking at the comments that are being posted on Glassdoor? 
  • Are we dismissing them? 
  • Are we respecting them? 
  • Are we walking around the organization observing? 
  • Do we do innovation safaris, where we walk around the organization to see how we can improve employee and customer satisfaction?

The best leaders in the world are doing that. 

2. Begin the process of gaining great insights. 

3. Turn those insights into actionable and measurable objectives.

4. Then from there, build a strategy that we are absolutely committed to.

You must commit to this strategy for the long run because it takes a while to move the needle. You’ll have to make some course corrections, but it is a worthy goal and something that I strongly suggest that every leader inquires about.

Learn more insights from Nicholas Webb on Healthcare Transformers: 

Nicholas Webb is a number one best-selling author and is one of the most popular Innovation, Healthcare, Future-trends, and Customer Experience Speakers in the world. Nick is the CEO of LeaderLogic, LLC, a Management Consulting Firm that provides consulting services to the top brands in the world. Nick works shoulder-to-shoulder with boards of directors of multibillion-dollar companies to assist them in building future-ready organizations. Nick began his career as a successful technologist creating award-winning innovations in healthcare, consumer, and industrial technologies. He has been awarded over 40 Patents by the U.S. Patent Office for various landmark technologies. Nick is also a prolific best-selling author that has been published by many prestigious publishers. Nick is the author of What Customers Crave, The Innovation Mandate, What Customers Hate, Happy Work, and his number one bestselling book, The Healthcare Mandate. Nick has served as a Chief Innovation Officer and an Adjunct Professor at a top medical school. Nicholas was awarded his Doctorate of Humane Letters (hon.) for his contributions in healthcare. Additionally, One of Nick’s goals was to create a healthcare documentary and his film titled, “The Healthcare Cure” was released in 2021 and recently won the Sedona International Film Festival’s “Audience Choice Award”, Most Impactful Film.