Employee burnout is a major issue facing healthcare workers today. The demanding nature of work in hospitals, clinics, and other healthcare facilities can take a significant toll on staff over time. As an employer in healthcare, you have a responsibility to put in place practical and effective strategies that help prevent burnout. Being aware of the specific triggers or drivers behind burnout can help you build a welfare blueprint for your organization.

Burnout Defined

Burnout can affect professionals in every role, and in every industry. It’s loosely defined as emotional exhaustion – in this case, directly caused by one’s job. Employees suffering from burnout can feel drained, unable to recharge even when away from work. They can also become detached from their patients in a way that negatively affects the quality of care they are providing – a “don’t care” attitude. Suffering from burnout leads to feeling ineffective at work and experiencing low morale.

Healthcare workers are particularly susceptible to burnout given the high-stress, fast-paced, and emotionally taxing nature of their jobs. Patient suffering, long work hours, and compassion fatigue can push medical providers toward – or past – the burnout stage.

Other symptoms of burnout can include extreme fatigue and/or insomnia, poor concentration, anxiety, irritability, and even a withdrawal from their responsibilities.

Without intervention, burnout can result in high turnover or absenteeism, and – most worrisome – a major lapse in the quality of patient care.

Why Employers Should Care

Employee burnout has serious consequences not just for staff, but for the entire organization. Exhausted employees, both physically and emotionally, are more likely to make critical mistakes, resulting in poor quality of care. Employee morale and engagement suffer, which leads to turnover and turn retention efforts upside down.

And there’s the collateral damage. Patients feel the effects, as well, when they interact with depleted or detached staff. Ultimately, burnout negatively impacts the reputation, productivity, and bottom line of healthcare facilities in every specialty. Implementing strategies to prevent burnout should be a top priority.

Strategies to Prevent Burnout

There are several evidence-based strategies healthcare employees can implement to prevent burnout and foster engaged, energized, and healthy employees.

Promote work-life balance.

Discourage overtime hours, and allow staff to take time off when needed without negative repercussions. Have open conversations about burnout risks, and maintain dialogue with employees to help stop it in action when detected.

Offer wellness benefits.

Include gym discounts, healthy food options, and counseling services in your employee benefits package to support your workers’ physical and mental health.

Cultivate team building and social support.

Host team outings, meetings, and activities to strengthen connections. Make sure this is something your staff will find useful before implementing.

Set reasonable workloads.

This may be the most crucial step employers can take when preventing healthcare employee burnout. Make sure to hire adequately to avoid overwhelming employees or departments.

Provide professional development.

Invest in continued education and training to enrich the careers of your employees.

Empower staff.

Involve your employees in decision-making. Give them the autonomy to choose certain processes or workflows whenever possible.

Evaluate policies.

Set employees up for success with clear compensation, scheduling, technology, and operations policies.

Left unaddressed, burnout in healthcare will continue to plague both employees and employers alike. This takes a toll on you, your teams, and your patients. As a healthcare employer, you are in a unique position to safeguard your staff’s well-being. By implementing these strategies, you can develop and support an engaged, resilient workforce and provide the highest quality patient care.

View our blog for more advice on cultivating a healthy workforce.

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