A serious issue that Covid-19 pandemic brought to surface as an underlying problem of the U.S healthcare sector is burnout which results in retention problems. According to one 2022 Gallup survey, 31% of healthcare workers reported feeling burned out, from a total of 12,319 full-time U.S employees. With higher burnout rates among healthcare staff, they have lower job satisfaction, and are more likely to suffer from serious mental health issues. In order to combat turnover and burnout, we need healthy initiatives that drive purpose, engagement and well-being among healthcare workers.
When workers feel valued, they are less likely to quit and one of the ways to ensure a culture of appreciation is through more transparent means of communication. This requires commitment and dedication, on the part of institutional leaders to foster a culture where workers feel valued.
In the words of Dr. Vivek Murthy, Surgeon General of the United States,
“When health workers look ahead, they should see a future where their dedication isn’t taken for granted, and where their health, safety, and well-being is as much a priority as the well-being of the people and communities in their care.”
Preventing Burnout is a Key Strategy for Employee Retention, Here’s Why
Data from the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics, shows that turnover rates have risen from 32% to almost over 45% from 2016 to 2020. Many in the U.S healthcare industry fail to understand the significant impact of burnout on employee retention and lowering turnover rates.
(1.) Burnout affects one’s physical, emotional and mental well-being and induces greater levels of stress. This means lack of motivation, poor job performance and increased negativity among already burdened healthcare workers amidst a global pandemic.
(2.) Burnout results in staff exhaustion, and that means poor care quality and more chances for medical mistakes. One such study from Mayo Clinic found that one in five healthcare workers were at risk of quitting the profession altogether due to burnout, anxiety and intense workloads.
(3.) Burnout carries a lot of stigma, and when addressed properly by the administration will ensure healthcare staff feeling supported. Rather than penalizing workers who complain of excessive stress, it is important to communicate to the staff that their health and well-being is a priority for their employer. This will make them feel more comfortable and satisfied in their roles as caregivers.
Breaking the “Vicious Cycle” of Healthcare Burnout and the Retention Crisis
Jessica Dudley, Milissa Eagle and Thomas Lee writing in the Harvard Business Review, analyze the existing situation with healthcare burnout/retention and suggest how organizations can break this cycle. According to their research, many healthcare organizations are struggling to deal with the worsening crisis over burnout.
“Some organizations are stuck in a vicious cycle, in which stress is leading to burnout, which is leading to worse performances, leading to more stress.”
In order to deal with the impending crisis, they suggest the following measures:
- Listening to one’s workers: Organizations need to actively listen, understand and address any challenges being faced by their workers. Given the Covid-19 pandemic and its shortcomings, this means authentically listening to one’s workers. Healthcare workers must be able to see this change within their organizations.
- Prioritizing workers’ engagement and well-being: Top-performing organizations emphasize staff engagement and well-being. They fully acknowledge that an engaged and healthy workforce is key to providing excellent patient care and reducing patient suffering.
- Organizational commitment to promoting self-care and providing support: There need to be strategies that support workers and emphasize the importance of self-care among them. In order to promote “self-care” among workers, organizations must share positive feedback between colleagues, leaders and patients. This will communicate to workers of an organization’s gratitude and respect for its employees. Organizationally making resources like yoga, meditation and exercise support team well-being.
- Addressing dysfunction should be a key priority: Leading organizations address dysfunction within their organizational processes. They take into account broken processes, make the best possible use of technology so that their teams can work more efficiently.
Creating a “Culture of Appreciation” in Order to Combat Burnout
The 2022 U.S Surgeon General’s Advisory on Building a Thriving Health Workforce, describes burnout as being characterized by: emotional exhaustion, depersonalization and little sense of accomplishment in the workplace.
We can implement several strategies that will help mitigate this public health crisis. Most important perhaps is, developing a “culture of appreciation” across healthcare organizations. Healthcare workers have worked tirelessly during the pandemic and made so many sacrifices, so that millions of Americans suffering from the virus could receive proper care. The fact that so many healthcare workers continue to suffer, suggests that healthcare systems should work hard to foster a “culture of appreciation” and should stand as active advocates for their employees’ needs.
Normalizing Asking for Help
According to Dr.Vivek Murthy,
“As gratifying as our work is, it can also be profoundly isolating, especially when we feel we can’t let our colleagues know if we’re not OK – a feeling that millions of health workers, including me, have had during our careers.”
Healthcare institutions should normalize employees seeking help and promote the importance of mental well-being within their organizations. It is now time for us as a society to care for health care workers, who worked relentlessly for our health during this devastating pandemic.
One effective way of tackling burnout among U.S healthcare workers is, leveraging effective communication technology that facilitates them in their daily workflows and reduces administrative burdens.
This is precisely why we built Hucu.ai: a leading communication platform that automates caregiver workflows and makes it easier for them to communicate with peers, patients and their families. This has helped care teams, by effectively reducing administrative workloads and burnout among them.
Schedule a demo today to learn more about our advanced communication technology!