Category: Nursing Professionals

Healthcare Employee Burnout Doesn’t Cure Itself

 

As a healthcare motivational speaker, I know the healthcare industry is going through one of the most difficult periods of low morale in decades. It is not just the pandemic, but a changing landscape that includes ever-changing insurance reimbursement issues, new software and systems, coding challenges, compensation issues, employee turnover and understaffing.

Added to all of this are the daily tests many of us encounter before we even get to work. COVID has forced our kids to learn remotely; we can’t easily travel; vacations are limited; our spouses fear lay-offs; and even the simple joy of going to our favorite restaurants has been affected.

Nowhere to Decompress

When we get to work, be it an office, clinic or hospital, unless we have the opportunity to sort through all of the psychological and physical challenges, burnout becomes a major problem. Ultimately, patient care suffers, with minor to catastrophic outcomes. It is the one result no one wants.

In a September 2020 article by Practice Builders entitled “How to Improve Staff Morale in the Hospital,” the writers raise four important points in regard to improving staff morale: Practice Effective Communication, Respect Employee Opinions, Appreciate Employee Efforts, and Empathize with Staff.

While I would not disagree with any of these strategies for improving morale and inspiring employees, there are important “drivers” to make sure that morale is addressed and not just talked about in the break room.

Are You Determined?

If healthcare organizations want to improve morale, the entire organization must have a focused mindset to do it. This mindset is not just from the top-down, but the bottom-up. While it’s true that effective communication is important for any healthcare team, let’s not forget that individuals make up the team. It is up to everyone to develop a mindset to enable communication.

This leads me to determination. If, as the article suggests, the pathway to improving morale and open communication includes mutual respect, appreciation and empathy, we must be determined to do it.

If a team member is hurting, we should be determined to raise that person up. If a team member is disrespected (and that can cover a wide range of unacceptable behaviors), every other member on staff must be determined to understand the problem and correct it. If someone is going through a rough time, the team must be determined to help that team member.

Having the mindset to improve morale and being determined to communicate, respect, appreciate and empathize are merely intentions unless there is the daily grit to see it through. Without grit, the best of intentions to improve morale and inspire others remain the best of intentions.

There is no worse morale killer than a failure of the healthcare organization to see a program through, and to let it fall by the wayside. If we are all determined to bring about an improvement, to show everyone greater respect and appreciation and to empathize with one another, but we neglect the grit to make sure those things happen on a daily basis, then morale will only worsen.

To truly inspire one another, we must be individually determined to make a difference in our life and in the lives of everyone around us.

 

 

Contact Scott Burrows, Healthcare Industry Keynote Speaker for in-person and virtual meetings. You can reach Scott through this website or call: (520) 548-1169

Who Needs to Care for the Caregiver? You. Me. All of Us.

 

Delivering motivational keynote addresses to the healthcare industry on managing change in the nursing profession, I am struck not only by the enormous changes sweeping across the broad nursing landscape, but by the renewed awareness of caregivers as people.

The new generation of nurses wants more for themselves than simply sacrificing for others, an unchangeable given, but they embrace the vision to see the importance of their own needs as well.

At the start of 2019, Jennifer Thew, RN, wrote an article for Healthcare Leaders entitled the “Top 5 Nurse Leadership Issues for 2019.” The issues identified included recruitment and retention, innovative technology, cultural awareness, employee engagement and promoting self-care. In the article, Ms. Thew interviewed Paula McKinney, RN, vice president, patient services at Woodlawn Hospital in Rochester, Indiana.

As I speak at healthcare conventions, “collecting stories” of change management challenges in nursing, I was struck by how McKinney’s observations parallel many of the current concerns I frequently hear.

For example, on the topic of recruitment and retention, she said: “I think [healthcare executives] need to look at being more creative in recruitment activities to attract people to their facilities…the generation of nurses that have been coming out [of nursing school]—and the ones that will be coming out over the next five to seven—want something different than what the baby boomers wanted. They want flexible schedules. They want to feel appreciated. They want engagement…The boomers ‘lived-to-work,’ whereas this next generation has a work-to-live mindset.”

The theme was further clarified under the topic of promoting self-care, where she stated: “For me, the thing I think we need to emphasize is getting nurses to take care of themselves. It starts with CNOs [Chief Nursing Officers]. What are we doing for stress relief? When we’re struggling in the personal world, it’s reflected in your professional world…as nurses, we do not typically take good care of ourselves. What are things we can encourage nurses to do right where they are?”

Who has the vision to Care for the Caregiver?

While healthcare struggles with important issues of managing change such as facility consolidation, major insurance issues, ever-changing computer platforms and technologies, are the nurses themselves being neglected? Are they neglecting themselves?

Study after study has found that “business decisions” that encourage higher stress levels among nurses result in nurses walking away, more forced overtime and higher burnout. Nurse anesthetist Nick Angelis believes “that by ‘taking steps to reduce burnout among the staff, [hospitals can decrease] turnover and expensive hiring and training of new nurses. The current shortage is regional and varied, so by encouraging employee loyalty with flexible, empathetic management, hospitals will find no need for recruiters or agency nurses.”

Carrie Silvers, MSN, RN, clinical instructor at the University of Arizona College of Nursing warned, “Nurses aren’t going to stick around if we don’t see some changes in their work environment.” As more nurses work overtime to fill this deficit, expect burnout rates to soar.”

It comes down to a collective vision. Do healthcare facilities have the vision and then the determination to reduce nursing staff stress, have meaningful nursing staff engagement, and do they have the daily grit to make sure that changes in the way we care for the caregivers matches the broader industry changes? The answer must be yes.

 

To Contact Scott Burrows, Inspirational Healthcare Speaker on Changes in the Nursing Profession for your next meeting or convention, reach us through this website or by calling: (520) 548-1169