Healthcare workers are highly trained professionals that consistently strive to help patients experience optimal health outcomes. Unfortunately, these professionals have extremely stressful jobs that can often lead to experiences of anxiety and burnout.
Thankfully, there are ways that healthcare leaders can help their teams mitigate these experiences and thrive in their roles. Gaining perspective on key ways to help one’s team achieve states of mental wellness can make it easier to implement these practices in one’s work setting.
Here are leadership strategies for combating burnout in healthcare workers.
Tackling scheduling issues
In healthcare, effectively staffing healthcare workers can be an extremely difficult task. In recent decades, this problem has been exacerbated due to a shortage of healthcare workers, forcing medical institutions to overwork and overschedule their employees. As such, many healthcare workers are experiencing burnout as a result of being overly worked in an extremely stressful work environment.
For healthcare leaders intent on minimising the experience of burnout in their team members, addressing overscheduling is key. Though it can be difficult to find the perfect schedule for teams, putting in the extra effort has the potential to be extremely effective.
For example, as a team leader, one can interview staff to see which team members might enjoy having more hours and which feel as if they have too many. By utilizing this key information, better schedules can be made to help decrease instances of healthcare workers being overstaffed and experiencing burnout.
Encouraging work-life balance
As anyone who works in healthcare is aware, healthcare settings can be stressful work environments. Unfortunately, many healthcare workers struggle to balance their stressful jobs with their personal lives, causing them to be consumed by the negative feelings they associate with work. To help minimize the chances of this happening to one’s team, it’s essential to encourage team members to engage in better work-life balance.
Some key work-life balance strategies include:
- Creating concrete boundaries. This includes not having a connection to work at home, such as being connected digitally. It also means having strict guidelines around not engaging in work-related activities when not on duty.
- Engaging in self-care. Engaging in good self-care practices is vital to work-life balance for healthcare workers. This can include consistently speaking to a mental health professional and regularly engaging in relaxing or fun hobbies to de-stress.
- Taking time off. Given that healthcare can be an extremely stressful work environment, taking time off periodically is key to maintaining good mental health. This can come in the form of vacations in relaxing destinations or simply time away from work to spend time with family and friends.
Cultivating a positive work culture
Though medical care settings can be stressful, work culture can be a potent way to help mitigate the amount that this affects the mental states of healthcare workers. When healthcare workers feel supported by their leaders and peers, they’ll become more resilient in the face of stressful work scenarios. As such, healthcare leaders have an opportunity to lessen the chances of their teams experiencing burnout by cultivating positive work culture.
To begin, it can be helpful for leaders to ask their staff how they’d like to be supported. With this information, new work-culture practices and strategies can be crafted to improve employees’ work experiences. As a result of these changes, healthcare employees will be better able to manage the stress that comes as a byproduct of healthcare and more effective in avoiding experiences of burnout.
Utilising data-driven solutions to lead
Though it may not seem like an obvious solution, data may hold the key to helping healthcare workers combat burnout. In essence, healthcare leaders can collect data about their workforces and the scenarios that correlate with experiences of burnout. By analyzing this data, healthcare leaders can create data-driven solutions to help decrease burnout in their employees and improve the mental health status of their staff.
Some information that data might elucidate is that certain employees react more sensitively to certain situations and that certain scheduling decisions often result in employee burnout. As a result of having this information, robust and effective changes can be made to processes that ultimately result in fewer experiences of burnout in healthcare workers.
Leadership is key to mental wellness in healthcare workers
While healthcare workers are some of the most important professionals in our society, they often have to sacrifice aspects of their mental health to perform at the highest levels. What this typically results in is a dishearteningly large number of health workers consistently experiencing high levels of stress and burnout.
Fortunately, healthcare leaders have the power to help their staff achieve better mental health states and avoid burnout. From encouraging work-life balance to cultivating a positive work culture, leaders can equip their staff with the resources to bypass burnout and thrive in their roles as healthcare workers.
Adam Mulligan, a psychology graduate from the University of Hertfordshire, has a keen interest in the fields of mental health, wellness, and lifestyle.