Burnout Busting in Healthcare

As we come out of the years-long pandemic and explore new routines, habits, and workplace cultures, employee burnout has become less of a buzzword in the healthcare sphere, but the problem has not gone away. A survey taken in late 2021 found that 38% of healthcare workers were experiencing PSTD, 74% suffered from depression, and 75% coped with anxiety.  

New procedures have been implemented over the last two years in the healthcare space, and as protocols change, technology changes, and healthcare administrators find themselves managing new protocols and remote teams across the country, we decided it would be a good time to revisit burnout busting in the healthcare field with some of our favorite and most practical burnout busting tips! 

  1. Provide access to helpful and evidence based resources  

Burnout is less of a mystery now than it was decades ago when the term was coined, and research has taught us a lot about what options truly make a difference for overwhelmed staff. 

While flashy burnout busting ideas like a staff yoga retreat sound trendy, research shows that tangible benefits such as paid sick leave and explicit encouragement from supervisors provide better burnout busting benefits.  

Ensuring your employees understand their treatment options, and how to access psychiatric treatment through their insurance or other organizational arrangements is vital. Knowing where they can turn for help empowers your employees to seek treatment when they need it and discussing available treatment options openly as a staff is not only practical but also helps destigmatize those treatments in the workplace.  

  1. Advocate for your employees  

One big factor in successfully preventing or coping with burnout is support. When your team feels support from leadership, they feel like their place of employment is a safe space and that they are a priority, not an afterthought.  

There are many ways you can advocate for your employees, protecting their mental, emotional and physical health while on the job. 

Implement realistic sick leave and paid time off policies 

This lets your employees know their physical health is important, and their emotional well-being and quality of life matters too. Simply taking a break can help prevent burnout and creating policies that give your employees the opportunity to take these breaks makes a big difference. 

Create realistic staffing policies 

Workload is a big factor in burnout. By building an organizational structure and staffing policies that require you to have enough employees to efficiently accomplish the work at hand, it protects your whole team from burnout caused by overworking.  

Support their boundaries 

When an employee feels overwhelmed with work, they may feel that the solution is to work more in an attempt to catch up. But in reality, this often creates the opposite effect, draining your employee physically and mentally. If you notice a team member struggling with burnout, take the time to discuss their work-life balance and their boundaries. Leadership initiating a conversation about healthy boundaries sets the tone for your entire healthcare organization’s culture and ensuring that you do not expect your employees to answer their phone or email when they are not on the clock can provide relief to stressed out employees and help them feel like their boundaries and normal and healthy, and not a sign of laziness.  

Ask them what’s causing their burnout 

Talking to your employees is a simple step, but incredibly important. Ask them how they feel about their workload or what changes they would make to their responsibilities. This will provide insight into your team, and clear communication could reveal a problem in the workplace infrastructure or operating procedures that can easily be remedied. 

  1. Build a great team 

Building a great team is more than just hiring talented staff. Be sure you’re hiring enough staff! And then make the most of your team. Spreading the workload out across multiple employees helps prevent burnout and makes the best use of the talent on your team.  

Are there tasks that can be removed from a clinician’s workload and placed on the shoulders of an administrative team? Can you organize extended teams to support physicians and nurses handling documentation and scheduling? Would outsourcing some of the current daily operations help strengthen your team, lessen their stress and increase their productivity without burning out? Check out this blog covering the top reasons to consider outsourcing your billing or contact Practice Management to see if this service would be a good fit for your team. Think creatively about your team, and you may just find new ways to build your bench of talent and protect your current employees! 

  1. Be realistic in your timelines 

Keeping a schedule is vital in the healthcare world but be realistic when you are creating these deadlines. Allow time for what matters, like time with patients and creating real connections. Valuing people over productivity gives your patients and your staff the time they need to create trusting relationships and deliver quality care. 

  1. Use technology 

Technology is a vital part of healthcare work in 2022! Selecting the right EHR and spending time developing streamlined and efficient standard operating procedures that utilize the most helpful technology available to your health center saves time and stress on your team! Be picky about your software, seek input from the individuals using it every day, and consider regularly surveying your staff to gain insight into which procedures are working and which are sucking away valuable time and adding stress to daily operations. For example, Hawaii Pacific Health’s “Getting Rid of Stupid Stuff” program asks employees to submit poorly designed EHR tasks regularly, and one suggested change ended up saving about 1,700 nursing hours per month! 

Taking care of your team now is an investment in the future success of your employees and your healthcare organization. Busting burnout in the healthcare field will continue to be an important part of taking care of your team and your community!