How can healthcare leaders prevent staff burnout (as well as their own)?
80% of healthcare leaders surveyed that their stress and burnout levels increased in 2022. For those who responded, the overwhelming majority said it was due to staffing issues. Patient volumes, financial budgeting, strategic planning, and workflow expectations have mostly returned to pre-COVID-19 pandemic norms. However, staffing shortages continue to negatively impact the majority of healthcare practices, adding increased workloads for healthcare leaders.
Occupational burnout is a psychological syndrome resulting from chronic workplace stress. It is characterized by reduced professional productiveness and feelings of exhaustion or negativism related to one’s job. Healthcare administrators are continually asked to lead efforts to lessen clinician distress, yet their stress and work experience are rarely discussed.
What can be done to reduce burnout?
Open lines of communication and lead with kindness.
Building a trusting relationship between clinicians and the leadership team is essential. Placing priority on productivity may deplete staff. Instead, encourage your organization to prioritize kindness and understanding. At the end of the day, clinicians and organizational leaders are all looking for opportunities to be heard, do their best work, and feel a sense of ownership and independence.
Create a flexible staffing model.
Utilizing locum tenens physicians and advanced practitioners can be a great way to help prevent burnout and ensure continuous patient-centered care. Labor costs are the largest expense for hospitals, physician groups, and other healthcare organizations but also the most manageable. When leveraging locum tenens providers, you can effectively manage labor costs, increase retention rates, reduce burnout, and, as a bonus, earn unclaimed revenue. Creating a flexible staffing model with locum tenens is an easy and effective way to reduce burnout.
Offer mental health and well-being resources.
Professional burnout is often associated with feelings of loneliness and isolation. So, sharing our stress and concerns and supporting one another is critical. Promote mental health and well-being among team members and offer support services. Invest in your team's (and your own) well-being and create space for conversations.
Take time off to avoid feeling depleted.
Healthcare executives should encourage their staff (and themselves) to take time off, especially when feeling depleted. Making time for physical exercise and sufficient rest is not an indifference to the job — but a necessity. Spending time with friends and loved ones is a great way to recharge and get perspective. Everyone needs time to reconnect with the part of themselves that is passionate about improving patient care.
Addressing staffing needs.
Of course, the above recommendations only work if the healthcare organization or physician group has the necessary permanent or temporary staff to keep operations running smoothly. Without adequate staffing, all patient care tasks — from scheduling appointments to regulatory compliance — continue to create challenges within the entire organization. All levels of the organization can feel tired and discouraged.
When healthcare leaders experience emotional exhaustion, the clinicians and team members they supervise will be adversely affected. Healthcare organizations must prioritize their leaders’ well-being and support those experiencing burnout. Our healthcare system depends on it.
If you would like to explore how Medicus Locum Tenens can address your staffing gaps, please get in touch with us!