As #MeToo and #TimesUp initiatives sweep the nation, the healthcare industry should pay attention.

Recent nationwide media attention on sexual harassment in healthcare, coupled with stressful work environments, means healthcare employers have their share of workplace issues. However, healthcare employers have a unique opportunity to make meaningful culture change happen now – both in the context of sexual harassment and beyond. So what can employers do?

  • Use this national dialogue to make your company the employer of choice. Engage leadership in a discussion about how and why your organization can benefit from this movement. If there is ever a time to demand professionalism in all aspects of the workplace, from the operating room to caregiver interactions, it is now.
  • Get out into the field. Cascade down the message that your organization is focused on a renewed culture.
  • Do not limit #MeToo discussions to employee-employee interactions. Broaden the discussion to include harassment between patients and employees and general workplace culture.
  • Use the #MeToo movement to drive home basic respect and courtesy in the workplace. If you raise your voice, you lose the battle. If you raise your voice or otherwise behave poorly and someone has it on tape, you may lose your job.
  • Lead from the top. Create an environment where employees know that if they have concerns, those concerns will be addressed in a respectful and thorough manner. Do not brush concerns under the rug. Be a leader in proactive culture setting.
  • Use this movement to enhance the patient experience. Taking these steps to engage your workforce and train across all levels will enhance the patient experience.
  • Use this movement to enhance the manager’s experience. Strong managers are approachable, patient, and good communicators. Encourage effective, early performance management so managers free up their time to build a culture of good performers.
  • Retaining the “best of the best” workforce is critical to patient care services and the ability to compete in an industry full of change. Top providers, clinicians, nurses, and researchers demand a positive workplace environment.
  • Provide physicians with strong management tools. Unlike other industries, healthcare employers often face non-traditional supervisory issues where physicians and other practitioners do not consider themselves a “supervisor” but, when it comes to harassment in the workplace, they may be viewed that way under the law.

While the laws regarding workplace harassment have not changed, the sheer number of those who speak out, the volume with which they do it, and the audience they reach is changed forever. Get ahead of this movement.