Fatigue & burnout is a serious issue in the world of healthcare In April, CareerBuilder reported that 60% of healthcare workers are burned out, mainly due to heavy workloads, smaller staffs and lack of flexible schedules.  Out of the workers who are burned out, 2/3 plan to look for a new job this year.

Burnout is not static; it is evolving.  In demanding environments, it simply increases or decreases depending on the pressures exerted on external variables at certain times, but there are signs when it gets to be too much. The most visible impact of burnout is a change in your staffs’ work performance – motivation plummets, frustration skyrockets.  An “I-do-not-give-a-darn” mentality creeps in, with staff not really caring to make decisions and caring even less about the outcome.  They begin to give the bare minimum instead of their all.  Administrators need to constantly look for these warning signs, all the while working to develop and implement the appropriate strategies to reduce burnout.

So how can you combat the stress that leads to burnout?   

  • Create new challenges – provide opportunities for your staff to grow.  Job can be redesigned (even in health care) so that new duties can be assigned and/or rotated, and responsibilities increased or decreased.  Look for mentoring & learning opportunities. Cross training allows some staff members to learn new skills while experienced staff members are recognized for their depth of knowledge.
  • Flexible work hours – people need time to address other aspects of their lives.  When health care workers were asked why they planned to stay in their jobs, 44% of them gave their flexible work schedules as a reason.  Flexible work hours are not synonymous with telecommuting. In many facilities, this is simply not an option.  It simply means a rethinking of conventional scheduling practices to address the needs of staff who work a wide range of schedules.
  • Offer competitive compensationOver 40% of health care workers say they have not received even a cost-of-living pay increase since 2008.  Paying below market rates for talented, experienced staff can backfire.  Even though other areas do impact job satisfaction, salary makes the biggest impact.  It affects your staffs’ level of job satisfaction, because it represents the value that management places on their workers.  No one wants to work somewhere where they are not valued.  To retain your staff, you may have to re-evaluate your salary structure and rework your salary ranges in order to properly compensate them.
  • Do not operate understaffed – The CareerBuilder report found that current health care workers are  becoming more stressed as they cover open positions open for extended periods of time. Forty-six percent of health care organizations stated that they have seen a negative impact on their facility due to extended job vacancies.  Long hours and juggling too many patients are taking a toll on morale and retention.

Studies show that burnout results in increased absenteeism, health care costs and turnover.  To reduce the impact of burnout, contact Snelling Medical Professionals today.  Having a staff of qualified temporary health care workers to help you better align staffing levels with patient inflows and other external drivers.  Visit our Office Locator page to find your closest Snelling Medical Professionals office today.  We look forward to hearing from you.

By Christiane Soto,