Healthcare workers are the unsung heroes of our society. They tend to our sick and wounded while working long and stressful hours and burnout in healthcare is a genuine risk. All that stress can take its toll on employee morale and mental health. In this article, we will discuss how to combat burnout in healthcare workers and keep critical facilities staffed.
How to Spot Burnout in Healthcare Staff
You can’t begin to solve a problem unless you know how to recognize it. Per a survey by Deloitte, as many as 64% of employees report that they are “frequently stressed”. Many of us find it challenging to notice the signs of burnout in ourselves at first. So, it’s critical to understand how to spot the signs in your staff before serious consequences begin to set in. We’re all driven to do our best at our jobs, but in the process we can sometimes forget about the toll that stress takes on us and our colleagues. The mindset necessary to spot burnout is one of awareness and compassion.
Here are several things to look for in your staff that may be signs of burnout:
- Low morale
- Increased absenteeism
- Reduced productivity
- Increased errors and mistakes
- Feelings of helplessness or hopelessness
- Increase in physical ailments/illnesses
- Loss of enthusiasm for work
Conditions That Contribute to Healthcare Burnout
One way to counteract burnout in healthcare employees is to raise awareness in yourself and your staff about the conditions which can fuel it. From there, you can devise strategies to reduce or eliminate these conditions, or at least introduce elements which can provide relief. Wanting to be a “team player” can sometimes mean that your staff won’t verbalize issues that are causing them stress, whether they are at work or in their personal lives (or both).
A work culture that discourages openness or disparages someone for needing help might seem like it will reinforce a diligent work ethic. And it may, for a time. But in the long run it leads to unhappy healthcare staff which feel unappreciated. That translates into lower morale which actually leads to poorer performance over time. Ultimately it can cost you employees. We don’t have to tell you that healthcare is extremely competitive.
Healthcare employees who are unhappy and don’t feel seen and heard eventually begin looking for greener pastures. All or most of this can be avoided by recognizing and mitigating factors that can contribute to burnout. Remember that the culture and attitude of any organization really begins with management and leadership. Your people need to know that burnout is a concern and that you genuinely care about their wellbeing. Whether you are a Director of Nursing, an HR manager or a CEO, healthcare burnout needs to be on your radar. If it isn’t now, it will be sooner or later and you must be ready for it.
Here are some conditions which can contribute to burnout in healthcare:
- Insufficient staffing
- Lack of support from leadership
- Poor communication between healthcare staff and leadership
- Unclear job roles and responsibilities
- Unrealistic expectations or work demands
- Inadequate resources to do the job properly
Seeing the Signs and Responding
By recognizing these conditions, healthcare facilities can take steps to alleviate them. This can be done by investing in employee education programs, increasing healthcare staff numbers if needed, introducing flexible working hours, establishing better feedback loops and clearer channels of communication between healthcare employees and management. It’s also crucial that healthcare workers are given autonomy over their workloads to some extent; this gives them a greater sense of control which leads to enhanced morale. Above all else, healthcare workers need to feel appreciated for the hard work.
Combating Burnout in Healthcare Workers
Once you’ve identified healthcare burnout, the next step is to take action. It’s essential to create an environment where healthcare staff feel valued, respected, and supported if you want them to stay healthy and motivated.
Here are a few tips on how to help combat healthcare worker burnout:
- Provide access to mental health services like counseling or therapy
- Encourage breaks away from work so healthcare workers can recharge their batteries.
- Offer flexible working hours or remote work options.
- Create an open-door policy so healthcare staff feel comfortable coming to their managers with any issues they may have.
- Reward healthcare workers for going the extra mile and recognize their hard work.
Burnout in healthcare is a genuine risk, but it doesn’t have to be inevitable if you take steps to combat it. Healthcare workers are our society’s heroes, and we should treat them as such. By creating a culture of support and understanding, healthcare facilities can keep morale high and make sure that employees stay healthy and motivated.
Healthcare Recruiting and RPO Empower Your Business
A partnership with a healthcare recruiter like SMG can help make sure that you always have access to well-qualified, experienced individuals to fill key positions quickly and easily. With their help, you can rest assured that the best candidates are always available to meet your hospital staffing, behavioral health and other healthcare needs. Recruitment process outsourcing (RPO) makes hiring far more convenient to be sure. But it’s about more than mere convenience. RPO makes good business sense because it streamlines hiring, unburdens overworked HR departments and almost always results in open positions being filled sooner and with better quality candidates.