5 Tips to help reduce burnout among your healthcare workers

5 Tips to reduce burnout among your healthcare workers

By Emily Arndt on April 5, 2023

Understanding the causes and impact of burnout and what you can do to combat it.

On May 23, 2022, U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, M.D. issued a Surgeon General’s Advisory addressing healthcare worker burnout. Through the Advisory, Murthy drew awareness to the sobering fact that over 50% of all healthcare workers suffer from burnout. Many healthcare workers also suffer from insomnia, depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder and other mental health conditions.

We all know burnout. It’s a syndrome defined by emotional exhaustion, depersonalization and a sense of reduced personal accomplishment. It’s associated with negative outcomes for providers, patients and healthcare organizations. Burnout is a turning point, where important, meaningful and challenging work becomes unpleasant and unfulfilling. Additionally, it can lead to a persistent negative state of mind and reduced professional efficacy.

Can you guess the top reasons for burnout? They include: unmanageable workload, inflexible schedule, low compensation, lack of support to deliver high quality care, administrative burdens, lack of sleep, no work/life balance and moral injury from caring for so many patients.

Widespread burnout will reportedly lead to a deficit of “more than 3 million essential low-wage healthcare workers” by 2027 and about 140,000 physicians by 2033. This presents a major challenge for the U.S. healthcare industry and the nation at large.

Healthcare worker burnout was an issue long before the pandemic, which further exacerbated the issue. In 2022, 52% of nurses and 20% of doctors said they were planning to leave their clinical practice – the so-called “Great Resignation.” Over 200,000 healthcare workers resigned in 2021. Of those who leave the profession, 89% cite burnout as the primary reason.

If healthcare workers continue to resign at these rates, the healthcare system could struggle to meet demand, patient care standards could decline and the other 50% of healthcare workers could burn out. That’s why the Surgeon General is warning of a possible entire system collapse just as demand for healthcare in the U.S. is growing.

Here are 5 tips to help reduce burnout among your healthcare workers:

1. Hold a series of open forums to learn about your workers’ concerns

Being open to suggestions and ideas could be the key to maintaining your work force.

2. Increase access to mental healthcare

Ensure your workers’ health coverage provides access to plenty of mental health providers and that you provide flexibility for workers to make it to appointments. Consider using an Employee Assistance Program (EAP).

3. Build a culture that better supports well-being

In a 2022 healthcare worker study, two-thirds of participants expressed worry about consequences to their careers if they disclosed their mental health struggles. This prevents them from coming forward. Destigmatize healthcare worker mental health concerns and burnout by building a culture that addresses these conditions directly. It’s also important that frontline leadership lead by example and do things like take professional breaks.

Christina Boyle, (DNP, MSN, RN) Director of Client Risk Solutions for Glatfelter Healthcare, shared a recommendation: “Conduct a Root Cause Analysis (RCA) to discover the sources of burnout. Try multiple streams, such as partnering with other organizations to see if they’re having the same challenges and what they’re doing to combat them. In the meantime, prepare employees for those challenging work conditions through robust onboarding, continuing education and in-service sessions. These steps will help obtain employee buy-in. And let’s not forget to lead by example. There’s so much power in that. Better support your workers and improve leadership by enhancing relationship building, employee engagement and communications.”

Grab some healthcare worker burnout awareness resources, including graphics and videos, by visiting the HHS website.

Gather more insights into promoting well-being in your caregiving workplace by  checking out this Glatfelter article.

4. Establish a baseline and continuously monitor worker well-being

Once you’ve determined baseline healthcare worker burnout data from open forums and discussions, you can determine solutions and measures of success. It’s a good idea to hold regular open staff forums, administer surveys and/or hold informal roundtables to check in periodically. Taking the time to listen will pay off largely. By reducing workplace stress, you could increase productivity and overall quality and continuity of patient care.

5. Offer fair market wages for all employees

Lower-wage positions like certified nurse assistants (CNAs), home health aides (HHAs) and patient care assistants (PCAs) represent the majority of healthcare worker positions. While the average physician salary is six figures and the average nurse salary is $82,750, the average wage for a CNA/HHA/PCA healthcare worker is just $13.48 per hour. These workers are often the ones who build the strongest relationships and trust with patients, and high turnover leads to diminished quality care. By putting an emphasis on higher quality of life and livable wages for lower-wage workers, you’re likely to increase patient care standards exponentially.

“Combating burnout with communication and transparency is of utmost importance when leading a successful organization,” said Boyle. “As many things have changed during the pandemic, and staffing shortages continue to increase nationwide, remember, ‘The whole world is short staffed, be kind to those who showed up.’ --unknown author.”

Implementation of these 5 tips could help reduce burnout among your workers, establish a culture of mental health awareness and produce better patient outcomes. Cultivating an environment where people are treated with kindness and respect (and where they feel valued) can have incredible benefits across the board. Has your organization thought of a new, creative way to combat burnout? Share it in the comments below!

Sources:

  • https://cardi-oh.org/assets/best-practices/effective-teams/Cardi-OH-Avoiding-Burnout-by-Increasing-Joy-in-Work-Opportunities-for-the-Healthcare-System.pdf


Emily Arndt

Em, a proud cat mom to Margot and Teddy, enjoys learning guitar, the beach, writing, and working on her sarcasm.

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The information contained in this blog post is intended for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace expert advice in connection with the topics presented. Glatfelter specifically disclaims any liability for any act or omission by any person or entity in connection with the preparation, use or implementation of plans, principles, concepts or information contained in this publication.

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