The essential
role of leaders
in internal communications

Healthcare attracts special individuals who often describe their work as a “calling” to serve their community with their full hearts and minds. When employees commit so much of themselves to a demanding field like this one, they often become mentally and physically exhausted by the constantly challenging environment.

Exacerbated by the Covid pandemic, healthcare teams seem to be reaching the breaking point, with around 30% of employees heading for greener pastures – higher turnover than seen in other industries. Keeping talent under these circumstances falls squarely on the shoulders of leaders. They play the central role in a consistent, thoughtful strategy for connecting with employees both to inform and engage.

Healthcare systems must arm their leaders with the story of their organization. Your narrative should always point to the organization’s goals while also bringing its people forward into the spotlight. Keeping the message and the method personal and relevant reaches employees more effectively and more meaningfully. Gratitude and sincerity are key.

Unions are common in healthcare and present additional communication challenges for leaders. Regularly telling your story – with employees at the center, with facts and an authentic voice – becomes even more important. Nurses in particular pay attention to direct communication from their leaders and appreciate when leadership creates clear avenues for voicing concerns, helps them find resources, and recognizes their good work, tying everything back to the organizational focus on people and their importance in achieving your mission and goals.

Authenticity and transparency are key in any communications strategy, and leaders must know they represent a mouthpiece for the organization. In-person rounding and informational events create opportunities to humanize senior executives and help employees connect more meaningfully to their organization. Showing your personality in leadership communications also makes the message more relevant and strengthens its delivery. And always create opportunities for leaders to receive valuable feedback from their team – then empower them to act. If you want to build trust, you must help your leaders establish themselves as dependable sources of information and action on behalf of their people.

Perhaps the most important role leaders play in employee engagement is recognition and appreciation. In addition to setting the expectation for this behavior, make it easy and simple for leaders to give meaningful accolades and show gratitude – both within their own teams and through system-wide communication channels.

Incorporating leaders as a key tool in your internal communications plan and strategy will help you strengthen organizational commitment, creating more effective leaders and a stronger culture – you build loyalty and a deeper commitment to achieving the organizational mission.

Learn more about how a health system with a potential strike changed things for the better:


Amber Tabora BA

Chief Purpose Officer

Amber is an executive professional with more than 25 years of experience in creating and leading clear, compelling marketing and communication programs that reach target audiences and drive business and fundraising objectives. She serves as Chief Purpose Officer for RTRN Strategy and Endeavor Management, where she employs her possibility-minded, collaborative approach to help organizations rally around their purpose and tell their stories in powerful ways that inspire others to take measurable action.

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