Your staff are your frontline. They’re helping patients book appointments, sort through the confusing insurance negotiations, and provide consistent quality care. It’s a mix of technical skill, endurance, and empathy.
And with that comes employee burnout.
Burnout, while damaging to your people and business, is highly preventable. If you manage a healthcare practice, read on to discover the best strategies for getting the sun on your side.
1. Check your team’s morale
Your staff didn’t get into healthcare for the paperwork. When their day is weighed down with phone calls with insurance companies, navigating appointment changes, and ordering new supplies, their morale can take a dip.
Your practice’s staff are like family, and the best facilities create a culture of open and honest communication. Set up multiple check-in points to give your staff the opportunities they need to share where their headspace is — and so you can help identify ways to boost their morale when it needs a lift.
Daily stand-up. As your staff gets settled in the morning, do an informal check-in. How’s everyone feeling at the start of the day? Ask everyone to share one thing they’re excited about or one thing they need help with that day.
Send weekly mental health check-ins. Use a mobile app that allows your staff to answer questions, such as “How’s your morale this week?”
Create a buddy system. Even if your clinic is small, pair up your staff so each person has someone that they can connect with.
2. Host a staff roundtable
Go beyond just checking in. Host a formal session for staff to communicate their concerns, thoughts, and feedback. The pandemic challenges people in different ways. Parents, for example, are struggling to time manage childcare and work.
Sometimes it’s easier to boost morale when you do it together as a team. And it can even be fun.
Create a monthly brown bag session. Once a month, bring your staff together over lunch to go through business operations. Make it a working session with the goal of getting everyone excited about what your practice can do to continually enhance employee wellbeing.
Create a plan. Assign someone to take notes — maybe even rotate that role — so nothing falls through the cracks. Then put a plan in place to action on the ideas.
Build a culture of open communication. Your staff might be long-timers at your practice, but it’s still important to remind them that you want to create a two-way communication feedback loop.
3. Spring cleaning
Your staff might be stressed because they keep hitting the same roadblocks — unpredictable patient scheduling, supply shortages, or waiting room chaos.
Thankfully, there are easy ways to ease some of that stress. And one of the best ways is to just assess the current situation. Bring your staff into the conversation to make them feel more engaged and in control of the challenges.
Ask your team. What’s working and what isn’t? They’ll know best and appreciate the opportunity to influence processes.
Mix it up. Take advantage of a quieter season, if you have one, to try something new. Change the flow of the waiting room so that patients can check in efficiently under COVID protocols.
Lean on technology. Look for tools that can simplify admin, like staff scheduling, so they’re freed up to focus on your patients.
4. Create flexibility
Life in your clinic changes day by day. Whether your staff need to secure an appointment for an emergency root canal or your rebooking a routine eye exam, stuff happens.
On top of that, your staff might need to call in so they can work at another facility that day or even take care of personal errands. Make flexibility a priority for your team to help alleviate some of the burnout that comes with the day-to-day of working in a clinic.
Empower your team. Give your staff the flexibility to swap their schedules or press pause if they need a recharge.
Use an automatic scheduling tool to save time. Eliminate frustrating admin and let your team focus on the work that matters most to them.
Free up the schedule. Consider rotating schedules so that employees feel motivated and energized.
5. Recognize your employees
When your staff are heads-down with their patient care and administrative duties, they might not notice their positive impact. Recognize your employees to let them know that people care.
Burnout can happen when work feels endless. Through staff recognition and appreciation, you can help staff feel valued.
Make it tangible. Set aside a budget so you can reward top performers with appreciation treats like gift cards or team celebrations.
Make it human. Collect testimonials from peers and patients to share with the whole staff.
Make it social. Use your social media networks like LinkedIn to highlight positive employee stories.
6. Align on goals
Your employees might experience burnout if they don’t know how to grow in their career. Make the job worth working for by creating attainable goals or a clear path forward. If the job has levels for promotion, does your staff know how to reach them?
As you check in with your staff, get a sense of how they feel about their future. What do they want to accomplish in the next six months, one year, and three years? Employees feel better about their work when they have something higher to reach for.
Put it in writing. Create realistic goals that are tailored to each role and reward your employee as they hit different milestones.
Provide professional development stipends. Help your staff to pursue personal development and educational goals with a small education budget. If they’re getting burned out, that professional development can help keep them engaged.
Celebrate the wins. Encourage your staff to cheer on each other as they work towards their goals.
7. Go on an offsite
Your staff comes into the office every day. Or maybe they work partially from home. Either way, likely they’re ready for a little energy and change of scenery.
With an offsite event (either in person or virtually), you can treat your staff to some team bonding, relaxation, and educational experiences. Team offsites show your staff that you value their hard work and break up the monotony of 9-5.
Forget about work. Get dinner as a group and make it a rule to not talk about work for a few hours.
Take a virtual class together. Whether your staff decides to make pasta or build a terrarium, a virtual class can be a great way to energize your team and remember to have fun.
Bring in speakers. Ask staff from other practices to join you and talk about what they’re doing to keep spirits high and fight the burnout.
Build that work/life balance
Challenges inevitably create opportunities and being aware of what’s bringing your staff down can help you get them excited about work again.
Download The Practice Manager’s Employee Engagement Checklist for more ideas about how to boost morale and keep your staff happy.