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Addressing employee burnout is not just an individual issue

By Shannon Geis, MA
May 16, 2017
Body of Knowledge Domain(s): Human Resource Management

Burnout is an issue that many in the healthcare industry are confronting. And according to a recent MGMA Stat poll, 63% of respondents do not have a staff engagement program in their organization.

It is a stress response, so one of the first signs is exhaustion: “You’ve run out of creativity, you have nothing left to give,” explains Christina Maslach, PhD, professor of psychology emerita, University of California, Berkeley. Then an individual might begin to experience cynicism or depersonalization toward their work – “the ‘take-this-job-and-shove-it’ feeling,” says Maslach in this week’s episode of MGMA Small Talk. Finally, individuals begin to feel negative about the job and themselves, potentially feeling depressed.

It’s harder to treat than prevent, says Maslach, so trying to catch the signs early is important. “There are at least six areas of work life where the misfit between the person and the job can really set them up for burnout,” she says. The six areas include: 

  • Workload: The actual work that is expected of an employee
  • Control: The level of choice or discretion an employee has over how they do their job
  • Reward: The recognition employees get for the work they do
  • Community: An employee’s working relationships
  • Fairness: Employees feel they are being treated fairly and with respect
  • Values: Employees share the values of the organization

If your employees are dealing with burnout, it may be worth looking at what within your organization could be the cause. “Can we get smarter about how we do this work, and can it be done in a way that preserves and encourages the positive motivation and feeling of commitment people have when they go into healthcare?” says Maslach. “We have to put it on the agenda and make it something we care about.” 

Listen to the full episode to learn more about how you can prevent and address employee burnout in your practice.

Read more about dealing with burnout, particularly with physicians, in a recent MGMA Connection magazine article, “Caring for caregivers: Addressing physician burnout.”

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Shannon Geis, MA, Staff writer/editor, MGMA

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