Healthcare providers often work long hours in stressful working conditions which has resulted in many of them feeling physically exhausted and experiencing mental health issues, including burnout. Burnout is a state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion caused by prolonged stress. Burnout affects a healthcare worker’s ability to provide high quality patient care. It also can have long-term consequences for their personal and professional lives.
What Causes Staff Burnout in Healthcare Workers?
Burnout is not just a personal problem for health care workers, it is also an organizational one. It impacts patient care, employee retention, and reduces healthcare provider’s ability to perform tasks efficiently. If you are working in the healthcare industry, it is vital to understand the root causes of staff burnout and the steps you can take to prevent it.
What Is the Main Cause of Staff Burnout in Healthcare?
Often, EHRs and other technology tools that were meant to reduce manual tasks and streamline workflows do not work as expected – and do not work well with each other either. Even when they move to a different EHR, clinicians often find that the same problems emerge.
In addition, with mounting regulations regarding interoperability and information blocking, ineffective EHRs can impede compliance. Furthermore, EHR vendors are often change-resistant and hesitant to develop enhancements that would make patient data accessible according to governmental standards.
These obstacles to interoperability not only interfere with compliance, but also make the clinician’s job more difficult when they do not have the data they need in front of them when seeing a patient.
Other Common Reasons for Staff Burnout
A recent American Medical Association burnout benchmark study showed that more than half of the health care workers who participated were experiencing high levels of emotional exhaustion. In addition to sleep deprivation, healthcare professionals often face complex, high-stakes situations, and must deliver difficult news to patients and their loved ones. These additional demands of the job can quickly become overwhelming and lead to staff burnout.
- Economic Pressures: Healthcare is a complex and heavily regulated business, and many healthcare organizations face economic pressures. These pressures include tight budgets which lead to limited staffing, unreasonable workloads, and an unhealthy work environment. Healthcare leaders need to show their staff that they understand the pressures they face and work to provide adequate resources, supportive structures, and a fair compensation package.
- Ongoing Training and Education: Responsibilities for most healthcare workers include continuing education requirements and keeping up with regulatory changes and new technologies. This ongoing responsibility to consistently learn new things can be exhausting for healthcare professionals and lead to burnout. Healthcare organizations should consider providing educational opportunities that are tailored to the professional’s needs and provide ample time and resources to stay up to date with changes in the industry.
- Administrative Duties: Clinical staff and social workers in healthcare settings typically juggle both clinical work and administrative duties. Doctors, nurses, and other staff may have to deal with operational challenges like medical insurance, billing, scheduling, and paperwork, on top of their primary workload. These additional responsibilities can become overwhelming, making the staff feel disconnected from their core mission. Healthcare leaders can hire additional administrative staff to help with these tasks, thereby preventing clinical staff from burning out.
How Do You Manage and Prevent Staff Burnout in Healthcare
Managing and preventing staff burnout in healthcare starts with a supportive work environment that encourages teamwork, communication, and self-care. Providing resources and support for healthcare professionals during high-stress periods is essential to help them cope with their responsibilities.
Wherever possible, encourage work-life balance to minimize stress and burnout. Healthcare professionals deserve to be appreciated for their hard work and service to patients, and making a point to show them they are valued – especially by providing time off – can create a work environment that better retains talent.
Build a Positive Work Culture
A positive work culture is the foundation for a healthy healthcare team and helps in preventing staff burnout. A culture of positivity promotes open communication, mutual respect, and teamwork. Make sure your team members acknowledge and celebrate their successes and show appreciation for each other’s contributions. Encourage feedback and suggestions from the team and follow through with changes when necessary.
Provide Support and Resources
Healthcare professionals often deal with high-stress situations, which leads to burnout. They need supportive mental health resources to manage stress and cope with emotionally tough situations. Provide resources such as support groups, counseling services, and informational resources like books, articles, and webinars. Regularly check in with your team members to find out if they need any additional support.
Encourage Work-life Balance
Healthcare professionals must find a balance between their personal lives and their work. Long hours, unpredictable schedules, and emergency callouts can make it difficult to balance work with other areas of life. Encourage your team members to set realistic boundaries and take time off when necessary. This implies allowing reasonable time off, flexible schedules, and time to recharge.
Provide Clear Roles and Responsibilities
Many healthcare professionals deal with overlapping responsibilities and ambiguous job roles, which can lead to stress and burnout. Healthcare leaders can help prevent this frustration by:
- Providing clear job descriptions
- Communicating specific performance expectations
- Giving explicit instructions on how to carry out job responsibilities
In addition, creating a transparent culture where team members can clarify and communicate their questions will foster and encourage proactive communication and help reduce workplace stress.
Leadership can encourage a more balanced lifestyle by reminding workers that their self-care is important. Consider what tips and resources you could extend to your staff that would facilitate personal rejuvenation and stress-management.
Summary: Staff Burnout in Healthcare Causes and Solutions
Avoiding staff burnout within health systems can boost job satisfaction, improve retention rates, and increase overall performance. By implementing proactive strategies, healthcare organizations will have healthier, happier, and more motivated staff, ultimately leading to better patient care and outcomes.
Implement Burnout Solutions from Experienced Healthcare Consultants
With a full practice assessment from seasoned medical practice consultants at Medical Advantage, we will put together tailored recommendations to reduce the fatigue and stress that are common in many healthcare organizations. Reach out to us to learn more about our solutions, including optimization that effectively reduces operational inefficiencies that contribute to clinician burnout.