Addressing Health Care Worker Burnout

By Emily Menendez - Last Updated: December 12, 2022

The start of the COVID-19 pandemic spurred the beginning of increased stress on the health care industry caused by an increasingly hostile environment, with many nurses and health care workers leaving their positions due to burnout, personal safety, low pay, and other factors. The most recent Frontline of Healthcare Survey conducted by Bain & Company in July 2022 shows that 25% of clinicians—about a quarter of the clinician workforce in the US—are considering switching careers, with 89% of those surveyed citing burnout as the main reason. About a third of the country’s clinician workforce are also considering switching employers.

Burnout has been a pervasive issue in the health care field that has only continued to grow since the beginning of the pandemic. The survey reported that 63% of clinicians feel worn out at the end of the workday, 51% feel that they don’t have proper leisure time away from work, and 38% claim that they feel exhausted in the morning at the thought of returning to work. Besides burnout affecting workers personally, it also affects a health care system’s ability to bring in new employees. The likelihood of US physicians to recommend their employer has fallen from 36 points in 2019 to 19 points as of this year.

How to Fix Burnout-Induced Turnover

The message from clinicians, nurses, and health care staff has been clear—workers want better compensation, better support in their field, manageable workloads, increased flexibility, and more clinically-focused job responsibilities. Bain’s survey has found that these five criteria are considered the most important to clinicians across all roles. Short-term fixes are quick to implement, but more long-term solutions are needed to bring down the rate of clinician turnover.

Boost Engagement Among Employees 

About a third of clinicians reported that they don’t feel that they are involved in strategic decision-making in their workplace. Workplaces can engage staff in decision-making through surveys, town halls, or feedback requests. Creating strong feedback systems for employees can boost morale by quickly prioritizing staff needs.

Create a Supportive Workplace

Recognizing employees for making positive impacts can boost employee satisfaction and retention—only about half of clinicians report that they feel satisfied with the amount of recognition that they and their coworkers receive. Building an inclusive and supportive workplace culture is one of the most important changes that could be made, as well—about 60% of clinicians report that they feel they do not receive adequate coaching or mentorship, and about half of clinicians say that an inclusive work environment is a “very important” consideration when choosing an employer. Creating a diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) strategy for your workplace is the first step to a more supportive workplace. Besides offering coaching and mentorship, collecting information and personal stories from employees can help boost marginalized voices, leading to better employee wellbeing.

To curb the further loss of important staff, health care workplaces need to implement permanent solutions to create a better, more hospitable environment for clinicians, which will boost employee satisfaction for the long run.

References

Bain & Company: 25% of US Clinicians Want to Leave Healthcare and 33% Want to Switch Employers

A Treatment for America’s Healthcare Worker Burnout

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