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HR expert explains what signs to look for and why it’s so important to find a remedy

By Rachel Hoover, Brightree’s Senior Talent Acquisition Partner

The numbers say it all: 75% of workers indicate that they’ve experienced burnout – defined by the World Health Organization (WHO) as a syndrome stemming from chronic workplace stress that hasn’t been successfully managed — with 40% specifically pointing a finger at the pandemic.

Long hours, lack of resources, and unclear expectations have long been identified as leading causes of burnout; however, just like so many aspects of professional and social life during the global pandemic, burnout has been exacerbated during this stressful time. Outside factors like losing face-to-face contact with a supportive network, losing sleep and shifting to more of an all-work-and-no-play lifestyle has left its mark on all of our workplaces.

In fact, 61% of remote workers and 53% of on-site workers report that it’s more difficult now to “unplug” during off hours. I’m guilty of this myself because I stopped taking a lunch break when I felt like there was too much work to do and not enough hours in the day. Luckily, I realized that not taking much-needed breaks was lowering my productivity. But for some employees, that realization comes too late – after burnout has already set in.

So, what can you be on the lookout for in your workforce? The three big signs of burnout, says WHO, include:

  • Employees who complain about or appear to be feeling exhausted or depleted of energy
  • Employees who are expressing feelings of negativism or cynicism related to their job and/or displaying the increased mental distance from their job or team
  • Employees who aren’t performing as well as they usually do

Where to start

In my HR position, I’m often asked by senior leadership and management if there’s a remedy for employee burnout. While there’s no magic bullet, we have rolled out strategies for minimizing burnout that any HME, pharmacy or home infusion provider can put in place. The first step is forming a team – this can be formal or informal – to build a process to mitigate burnout. At Brightree, our team follows these 6 guidelines to keep burnout to the absolute minimum.

  1. Prioritize the positive. Positive morale is a must. Make sure your company culture and management team focus on positivity and rewards. Don’t let hard work go unnoticed; instead, acknowledge achievements throughout the organization. This can be as simple as shout outs to programs that are more substantial such as monetary rewards.
  2. Listen up. Employees want to be heard and to know their opinions are respected and valued. Now may be a good time to set up roundtables where employees can bring their ideas or conduct an employee satisfaction survey that allows for feedback and suggestions.
  3. Reset expectations. Be proactive by checking in with your teams and allowing them the time and space for open conversations. If employees are struggling, continue the dialogue and be willing to find ways to improve workplace processes. For instance, at Brightree, employees are welcome to join Zoom meetings without their cameras on to avoid screen-time fatigue.
  4. Acknowledge work-life balance. Employees should feel empowered to create a healthy balance between their work and personal life. This includes honoring the boundaries they set and creating an environment where they’re not afraid to speak up about those boundaries. Finding a support system outside of work is important, too, and that’s less likely to happen if employees aren’t striking a balance.
  5. Honor PTO. This seems like a given to respect the boundaries around PTO; but especially in our healthcare industry, it can be difficult to balance taking care of patients and taking care of employees. Let employees know that they’re not expected to be available during PTO. Some companies have even instituted more flexible PTO guidelines that allow employees to take mental health days or time off to be tested for or recover from COVID-19 without losing time off.
  6. Give grace. Fear of missing out is real, but sometimes it’s not only OK but necessary for an employee’s mental health. Give employees the grace to say “no” when the work, the environment or their mindset gets to be too much that day.

Why it matters

Treating your employees as well as you treat your patients is the right thing to do for their satisfaction – as well as for your bottom line. Studies show that burnout leads to far greater absenteeism and lost productivity and contributes to the “great resignation,” the phenomenon sweeping the U.S. where workers are quitting their jobs at the greatest rate ever seen in the history of the country. In fact, Gallup reports that burned out employees are almost three times as likely to be searching for a new job. In other words, if you’re not focused on reducing employee burnout, you should be because it can lead to turnover, which costs you in time, money and employee morale. The good news is putting these 6 strategies in place to reinforce the value you place on employees – and their mental health – can minimize the burnout while maximizing the many benefits of employee retention.

Rachel Hoover, Brightree’s Senior Talent Acquisition Partner

Rachel Hoover is the Senior Talent Acquisition Partner for Brightree, responsible for the entire business cycle of recruiting candidates for open positions.

She brings a wealth of HR and talent acquisition expertise to her role, including experience in creating and developing HR policies and procedures.

Prior to joining the company in 2019, she served as a recruiting consultant for Corea Energy Solution and as a recruiter for VSoft Corporation.

Rachel Hoover, Brightree’s Senior Talent Acquisition Partner
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