April 9, 2019

Addressing Employee Burnout in Healthcare


In our increasingly fast-paced world, employee burnout is serious concern for healthcare organizations. Not only is it a key barrier to employee retention, it can also have a significant negative impact on quality of care and even lead to medical error and organizational risk.

Human resources teams in hospitals and other healthcare institutions need to be prepared to address workplace stress, burnout and mental wellness head-on in order to continue attracting and retaining top talent and delivering the best care for patients and families.

Corporate (un)wellness: employee retention and burnout statistics

Employee burnout is a well-known problem in the HR community. According to a 2017 survey  of human resources leaders across the US, 95 per cent said that employee burnout was impacting workforce retention but were unable to identify a clear solution. 46 per cent of respondents also said that employee burnout is responsible for up to half of their annual workforce turnover.

What’s causing the problem? Respondents listed unfair compensation, unreasonable workload, and too much overtime or after-hours work as the biggest contributors to employee burnout.

Check out the Guide: How to Reduce Absenteeism in the Workplace

Workplace burnout and fatigue can lead to medical error

For hospitals and other healthcare institutions, employee burnout poses a real threat to patient safety and organizational risk.

In 2018, researchers at Stanford University surveyed nearly 7,000 physicians at hospitals across the US to map the prevalence of stress and employee burnout in the workplace, and understand the impact on care delivery.

More than half of respondents reported symptoms of burnout, and ten per cent admitted making at least one major error in the previous three months. They also rated workplace burnout as having a negative impact on the level of safety in their institution.

Avoidable medical errors are the third leading cause of deaths in American hospitals each year, according to a Johns Hopkins study. Addressing employee burnout can help to move the needle on this number. But where to start?

Improve employee satisfaction with a workplace wellness program

Corporate health and wellness programs are shown to have a positive impact on overall employee satisfaction and can play a big role in reducing workplace burnout and other mental health concerns.

For a wellness program to be effective against burnout, it has to engage employees while promoting holistic health and a good work-life balance. When assessing a health and wellness program, consider these three tips.

1. Go digital: Employees are increasingly online. Look for a corporate wellness program that uses a digital platform and social networking to create a personalized experience that better supports the unique wellness needs and goals of each employee. For example, Sprout’s platform includes nudges, goal-setting and social sharing that can help restore work-life balance, reduce workplace stress and promote lasting habits that lead to healthier, more satisfied employees.

2. Consider holistic health: Workplace burnout largely stems from stress. Select a wellness program that expands beyond physical health to consider the whole person. Sprout’s holistic platform enables HR teams to promote mindfulness, regular breaks and stretching, and eating, drinking and sleeping habits to help employees be their best whether at home or at work.

3. Ensure wearable integration: Encourage high employee engagement choosing a corporate wellness platform that integrates with popular activity trackers including Fitbit, Apple Health and Google Fit. Integration also enhances the ability for real-world data collection and analytics, giving HR teams a better overall picture of organizational health and potential problem areas.

Employee burnout isn’t a medical diagnosis, but it does impact how medical professionals engage at work. HR professionals in healthcare have the opportunity to develop effective workplace wellness strategies that come alongside employees to help reduce stress and encourage a healthier workplace culture.


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