Dealing with Burnout amongst your Hospital Staff
Long and stressful hours. An increased number of acutely ill patients. Inability to be with their families and loved ones. With the unique added stress that COVID-19 has brought to the healthcare profession, we will inevitably see much higher rates of burnout in our staff than we have ever seen before.
Adam Grant recently wrote about burnout in the New York Times, stating that over half of doctors and a third of nurses are feeling it right now.
Given the scope of the pandemic, it may be impossible to avoid some level of staff burnout. It’s only natural to go through feelings of being overwhelmed, emotionally drained, fragile and unable to meet constant demands during this time of extreme stress and uncertainty.
However there are strategies to mitigate the impact of this stress. How do we in healthcare administration best support our staff on the front lines?
- Give constant positive reinforcement and encouragement: Doctors and nurses are giving their all right now and they need to hear how much they are appreciated. Collect words of encouragement from patients, families of patients and the public and shower your doctors and nurses with these words. It will keep them going on the toughest of days.
- Ask how you can help: Nurses and doctors are often afraid to ask for help. Being vulnerable might not be accepted in your workplace so start at the top. Remind them that asking for what they need is actually a sign of strength and maturity. Encourage them to ask for time off when they need it. Create a culture where when needs are voiced they are respected.
- Prioritize healthy behaviors: Remind employees that you are invested in their wellbeing. Send them mindfulness and meditation apps (Headspace and Calm are great ones to start). Encourage adequate rest and sleep. Provide each employee with a stipend to use on online workout classes or to order healthy food for themselves. When you encourage them to care for themselves, they are much more likely to actually do it.
- Check in continuously: Regular connections with colleagues and leadership teams is especially nurturing in these times, in creating a workplace environment that can reduce stress. Have personal check-ins with your staff members weekly. Take note of those that you notice might be having trouble and give them extra attention. Workplace relationships have never been more critical than ever and creating the healthiest ones starts at the top.
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