There are numerous ways you can make your physicians’ work environment more pleasant, be mindful of mental health, and also, at the same time, improve productivity. One of your biggest priorities as a supervisor should be reducing the risk of burnout, which is especially high among health care providers.
There are ways you can creatively reduce employee burnout. For example, there are employee and healthcare recognition days where you get the chance to celebrate a bit and say thank you. You can also recognize health care employees for their work specifically and offer flexibility in their work environment.
Before you take on any of these initiatives, it’s important to understand why you’re doing it and why reducing burnout is a strategic priority.
Job burnout is a type of stress related to work. Employees become physically and emotionally exhausted to the point that they’re accomplishing less. Sometimes, if burnout becomes especially severe, the affected person may lose their sense of personal identity.
There are many causes of job burnout, including unclear expectations at work, feelings that employees aren’t in control of their work environment, and imbalances between work and life. In a medical environment, there’s added trauma that comes with dealing with sick or dying patients, their families, and the strict regulatory environment.
Burned-out employees are going to lead to organizational costs that are unavoidable. You may see your employees taking sick days more often or leaving altogether. Your turnover rate will go up, as are your costs related to hiring and training replacements.
Burnout can also become contagious and may represent a toxic company culture.
So how can you avoid burnout or reduce the risk of it happening? The following are specific steps you can take to reduce employee burnout.
1. Know How to Recognize the Signs
One of the initial things you can do as a supervisor is learning how to recognize the signs of burnout. This will help you be more proactive in dealing with it early on if you notice it in someone.
Signs of employee burnout can include:
- Appearing exhausted
- Making mistakes
- Being sick more often
- A sense of cynicism
When you see these signs, you can plan to work with the physician or health care provider one-on-one to see what you can do together to reduce burnout.
2. Recognize and Appreciate Your Providers
Above, we mentioned the importance of recognizing employees on fun holidays to show that you care.
You should also regularly recognize and show appreciation for employees individually. Show them that you see their hard work but don’t just recognize them for anything. Make your recognition and appreciation sincere. If it’s inauthentic or generalized, it will lose meaning.
Some healthcare companies have created formal recognition programs as part of their larger strategic goals.
3. Think About Your Own Behaviors
Sometimes, it’s hard to look at ourselves and critically assess our actions. This is true in our work and personal lives, but it’s important.
Are you regularly emailing or calling your employees outside of traditional work hours? Are you rewarding people for long hours instead of recognizing them for the results they deliver?
Are you pushing yourself incredibly hard and showing that’s the example of what you expect at work?
Are you a micromanager?
These can lead to burnout. You can also experience burnout, which is something you need to be aware of as well.
4. Set Clear Expectations
Supervisors must provide their physicians and health care providers with the information needed to do their jobs well. Otherwise, when employees don’t know what’s expected, they will get frustrated, which will ultimately turn into burnout.
You want to set clear expectations for roles, as well as processes. You also want to be clear on the impact of each employee’s work on the organization as a whole.
If you’re inconsistent or unclear in accountability or expectations for performance, it’s exhausting to try and figure out what’s wanted, let alone get it done.
Good company leaders and managers regularly discuss responsibilities, goals, expectations, and priorities. They also work alongside employees to ensure that expectations are well-defined and in line with team goals.
You should proactively share information as it becomes available, encourage employees to ask questions and share thoughts, and ask questions when needed.
As part of setting expectations, make time to talk to team members one on one regularly. You can ask members of your team whether or not there’s anything they might change or if they’re experiencing issues. The meeting doesn’t have to be long. Just take a few minutes to check in.
5. Integrate Well-Being into Your Culture
Your organizational culture should include well-being as a priority. This means maybe you provide resources so that your employees can practice self-care, live healthier and self-directed lives, and generally feel well.
To facilitate work-life balance, part of your role can include providing flexibility and setting reasonable hours. You also have to model similar health choices.
6. Make Sure Everyone’s Opinion Counts
Leadership has to learn to listen. This includes check-ins, as mentioned above. In addition to checking in and listening, you also need to take action when employees are telling you something. This will show employees you care about what they’re saying. You should get to know employees as individuals.
Regularly solicit ideas and opinions from employees.
When your physicians and other providers feel like their opinions are being considered, they will be more accountable for their work performance. Additionally, when employees feel ownership, it can help reduce burnout because they feel control over their work.
7. Give Work a Purpose
Finally, everyone wants to feel like they’re working for a purpose or that their work has meaning. This is a natural tendency.
Show employees how their contributions make a difference. Make your culture and workplace one that’s culture-driven. Help employees identify how their role within the company is helping them fulfill your corporate mission.
Physicians and health care providers often start out with a sense of purpose, which can diminish over time. Make it a goal to keep that larger purpose central to everything your team is doing.