Stress, fatigue and burnout are concerning trends in healthcare, especially in skilled nursing and senior care communities. A 2019 report from the National Academies of Medicine (NAM) painted a sobering picture: 54% of nurses and physicians, and up to 60% of medical students and residents, were facing burnout. And that was before the COVID-19 pandemic, which added an even heavier emotional, physical, and psychological burden on healthcare workers.
As we move on from the pandemic, burnout remains an issue. It not only affects the well-being of healthcare workers but also contributes to the growing staffing shortage crisis faced by the industry, ultimately impacting patient care. One thing is evident: There needs to be a more concerted focus on the mental health and well-being of frontline workers.
At Catholic Charities NH, we recognize these issues and are dedicated to creating a supportive and fulfilling work environment. Whether you’re already in the healthcare field or considering joining, here are six valuable strategies that we use to help employee avoid burnout and thrive in their careers.
- Maintaining work/life balance: A healthy work/life balance is crucial to prevent burnout. Seek employers who respect personal time and discourage off-hour emails or calls unless it’s a genuine emergency. Look for workplaces that implement guidelines allowing employees to fully recharge outside of work, promoting a sustainable and fulfilling work-life balance.
- Cultivating collaboration: In healthcare, teamwork is paramount. That means shifting mindsets from “not my job” to “we’re all on the same team.” Encouraging a culture where everyone can pitch in and support each other beyond their designated roles can significantly reduce stress and build strong bonds among colleagues. Simple acts like offering a cup of coffee, taking a moment to chat with a resident, or lending a helping hand can go a long way.
- Living & embracing open communication: Many workplaces claim to have an “open-door environment,” but not all practice it effectively. Look for organizations where the open-door policy is more than just a slogan – it’s a genuine invitation for staff to voice their concerns, share innovative ideas, and provide feedback. Transparency about the policy’s purpose and inclusivity can change the way employees perceive it. As one of our employees shared, the transparency Catholic Charities NH promotes is key. “Having access to the administrators and leadership team is a game changer – I finally feel heard and valued.”
- Prioritizing check-ins: It’s key for administrators, managers and other key staff to move beyond traditional pleasantries and engage in regular one-on-one check-ins with team members. Taking the time to ask about their well-being, and whether they need additional resources can create a safe space for open communication and support colleagues in accessing necessary resources when facing challenges. Walk-around leadership often catches concerns early and allows for swift intervention.
- Promoting mental/emotional/spiritual support: It’s essential for healthcare facilities to recognize that not everyone may feel comfortable openly discussing their feelings. Look for workplaces that prioritize mental health by ensuring external resources like counseling and Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) are readily available and easily accessible to employees, or groups that employees form within their facilities to support one another. The ability to access support without stigma is crucial for your overall well-being.
- Celebrating achievements: The senior care profession is both demanding and rewarding. It’s important to work in an environment that acknowledges and appreciates your contributions. Seek workplaces that celebrate both small and significant victories. Examples here at Catholic Charities NH facilities include recognition programs, special events and celebrations with residents, birthday and anniversary acknowledgments, and special appreciation days for various departments.
Burnout benefits no one – it hurts productivity, morale, and retention. By prioritizing these strategies and finding an employer that values them, you can build a resilient and empowered healthcare career.
Are you seeking a rewarding career in healthcare, along with a strong work-life balance? At Catholic Charities NH, we’re committed to supporting our healthcare professionals in their journey to combat burnout and make a positive impact on the lives of those we serve. Check out our openings statewide!