The data is in and it shows that healthcare workers are some of the most stressed of any type of employee in the United States. The American Public Health Association (APHA) reports “health workers are burning out at alarming rates.” Ironically, a stressed healthcare worker can also negatively affect the quality of care for patients and accelerates the risk that mistakes will be made.
We know that healthcare is a stressful field; after all, we’re dealing with life and death issues. But the APHA says it’s more than that now; workers are reporting higher levels of stress leading to burnout, “which is often characterized by emotional exhaustion, a low sense of personal fulfillment from work and depersonalization, which makes it harder to connect with patients.”
How can administrators recognize the signs of burnout in their clinical staff? What can they do to alleviate burnout, ameliorate the risk of medical staff turnover, and mitigate the risks of medical mistakes?
Recognizing and Responding to Staff Stress
Spotting stress in your staff is easy if they’re calling in sick. Stress negatively affects your health, so conditions like high blood pressure, heart disease, or diabetes could signal a high and long-term stress load. Common signs of everyday stress include a headache, fatigue, and chest pain, as physical symptoms, but also watch for mood swings like angry outbursts or crying. The overly withdrawn employee is also a red flag; social withdrawal is a sign of stress and burnout.
So, how can a medical facility respond to the signs of stress? The easy way to help employees reduce stress is to encourage workers to take breaks and not work overtime. But there are also creative things a medical provider can do to make work more fun and reduce stress:
- Bring in a masseuse to provide chair massages during employee breaks. Even a 15-minute neck and shoulder massage could work wonders.
- Offer yoga and meditation at various times of the day to help calm overly anxious employees.
- Introduce programs such as Project Knitwell, designed to teach the therapeutic benefits of knitting to relieve stress.
- Start a before-shift or lunchtime walking group to get employees moving as a stress reliever.
- Provide employees with a quiet place to relax or read.
- Host fun staff appreciation events to acknowledge the hard work of your employees.
While these are good suggestions, it’s the tip of the iceberg for ideas that you could apply. You could also add additional staffing to help alleviate some of the workload, and that is a tactic that MAS Medical Staffing can help you with. Contact us to learn how we can support you.