In the winter issue of College Advantage, I addressed increasing incidence of physician burnout, and the importance of self-care. Physician burnout is an important issue characterized by emotional exhaustion, cynicism and ineffectiveness. It affects our personal and professional lives.
As we manage our own work/life balance and strive to improve our self-care, we need to remember burnout can be a significant issue for our office team as well. Team members who feel burned out may not perform their duties as well and be absent from work more often. Burnout among staff may contribute to low morale in your office.
The Medical Group Management Association, a professional organization whose mission is to “empower practices, providers and patients to create meaningful change in health care,” recently conducted a poll inquiring about staff burnout. Of all respondents, 45% said they did feel burnt out and 28% reported feeling “somewhat” burnt out.
What is causing the burnout? According to the Mayo Clinic, job burnout may be due to lack of control, unclear job expectations, dysfunctional workplace environments, lack of social support and an imbalance in work and personal lives.
What can you do?
A great team is like a well-oiled machine. The College has resources to help you hire, motivate and communicate with your team. Our free Human Resources toolkit covers the bases so you can learn how to attract the best talent and develop and retain staff.
Effective communication is key to dealing with potential issues before they develop into more difficult challenges. An open environment allows your employees to feel comfortable speaking candidly. Download our sample employee survey, included in the toolkit, to help you get important feedback from your team. It’s crucial to discuss survey results with your employees and be willing to make changes. The toolkit also includes downloadable code of conduct and employee handbook samples to help establish office procedures. While they may not seem glamorous, consistent policies are key to a well-run office and good morale.
Finally, recognizing and rewarding hard work goes a long way toward making your employees feel validated and appreciated. In fact, perhaps the single most important thing you can do is to simply thank your team regularly for all they do.
The American Medical Association’s free Steps Forward Module called Creating Strong Team Culture may help you establish and maintain a positive practice culture. There are also a variety of TED talks, all of which are 20 minutes or less, focused on burnout.
For effective, compassionate care of our patients, you and your entire team need to take care of yourselves physically and emotionally. Sometimes it’s as easy as taking a walk every day or getting enough sleep. Taking a few minutes to get to know your team and listen to their ideas and issues is a positive step toward recharging their batteries.
Todd Mahr, MD, FACAAI