Healthcare workers know that stress is inevitable in the industry, particularly these days. The field presents a unique set of challenges for all types of workers, from surgeons to non-clinical staff: working long hours, lack of work-life balance, and heightened administrative loads.
As a result, burnout is widespread in the healthcare workforce. According to research by the Medical College of Wisconsin in 2018, over 50% of physicians and more than 30% of nurses in the US experience symptoms of burnout.
How Burnout Affects the Healthcare Industry
Burnout leads to the loss of interest and motivation, reducing productivity and leaving an individual feeling cynical, helpless, and resentful. Healthcare workers who feel burnt out are also more prone to illnesses like colds and flu, leading to a shortage of healthcare staff for a specified period.
The state of burnout is also costly for the healthcare industry. According to a study in the Annals of Internal Medicine, physician burnout brings an annual cost between $2.6 billion and $6.3 billion for the sector. Each employed physician brings an average of $7,600 in burnout costs every year, the study said.
Building Resilience in the Healthcare Workforce
The Resilience Development Company in the UK defines “resilience” as a set of skills that changes an individual’s behaviors, beliefs, and habits to improve their emotional, mental, and social strength. The American Psychological Association said resilient people display these characteristics:
- Developing and maintaining positive relationships
- Keeping a positive outlook on the future
- Maintaining a positive work-life balance
- Developing physical, mental, and emotional well-being
- Acknowledging that there are factors that are out of one’s control
Although resilience may not remove the stressors that come with being in the healthcare field, it can help healthcare workers grow from stress instead of being overcome by it.
Helping Your Healthcare Workers Learn Resilience
As an employer, here’s what you can do to help your team develop resilience:
- Develop a culture of taking care of one’s well-being
Encourage your workers to take a short break in the middle of the day or take a day off when they don’t feel well, either physically or mentally. Normalizing breaks, mindfulness exercises, and stress check-ins will encourage your staff to take care of themselves.
- Provide coaching and training sessions on stress management
Stress comes with the job, so your workers must learn to manage stress healthily. Provide training on stress management, like controlled breathing and mindfulness meditation. You may also provide counseling or family support services for workers responding to situations like natural disasters and pandemics.
- Promote positivity in the workplace
Start meetings by recognizing the good things that happened over the week. Doing so will encourage everyone to think positively and will improve the mood of the entire workday.
- Develop fast-forward thinking
Trainers from The Resilience Development Company also advises anticipating action for a particular stressor. Have your workers ask if a specific situation will matter one week, a month, or a year down the road. When they recognize that a situation won’t have a lasting impact, they can direct their emotional and mental energy to other significant matters.
- Appreciate your workers’ efforts
A simple thank you after a critical event can boost staff morale and encourage them to do their next task.
The healthcare industry presents unique challenges that you won’t find in other workplaces, and this—plus many other factors—can cause burnout in your workers. Although you can’t control most stressors, training your staff to develop resilience will help them confront many challenges in their field while maintaining their overall well-being.