Burnout can affect everyone in your organization, provider and staff alike. In a June 26 MGMA Stat poll asking healthcare leaders if they feel burnt out at their job, 45% indicated that, “yes,” they feel burnt out, 28% are “somewhat” burnt out and 27% reported, “no,” they do not feel burnt out at their job.
Let’s look at three components of burnout, what can cause burnout and how you can address burnout.
The three components of burnout
While developing a tool to assess burnout in the early 1980s, Christina Maslach, PhD, professor of psychology emerita, University of California, Berkeley, and Susan E. Jackson, PhD, distinguished professor, human resource management, Rutgers University, Piscataway, N.J., identified three key components of burnout: emotional exhaustion, depersonalization and personal accomplishment.
- Emotional exhaustion: Feeling exhausted and emotionally extended at work
- Depersonalization: Feeling withdrawn when providing care, performing work, mentoring or instructing others
- Personal accomplishment: Feeling inadequate regarding work skills, accomplishments and ability
Today, many organizations employ the Maslach Burnout Inventory – Human Services Survey (MBI-HSS) (for medical personnel to assess the level of burnout in their providers and staff). In several of the practices I’ve worked with recently, the MBI-HSS has been a useful tool to identify burnout and gather more information on the details of each of the components.
In a recent engagement with a multi-specialty group experiencing high absenteeism, low morale, higher than normal level of errors and poor customer service, MGMA suggested employing the MBI-HSS to determine whether the issues were related to burnout. Following deployment of the survey throughout the organization, leadership focused on what employees were experiencing.
The practice assembled a team of staff members and management to develop a plan for remediation. The task force identified the underlying issues, prioritized them, then developed and deployed a step-by-step program. This resulted in a dramatic turnaround in employee morale, work performance and significant reduction in absenteeism.
Using the diagnostic tool allowed leadership to identify the issues, address the underlying causes and raise the level of performance and bottom-line results.
Causes of burnout and solutions you can employ in your organization
Based on my experience, here are three key areas that contribute to burnout along with recommendations for addressing each cause:
- Control (or lack of it). The more you have control over what you do and how you do it, the easier it is to mitigate against burnout. The less control you have and the more you are told what to do and how to do it, the more likely you are to experience burn out.
- Do this: As you provide leadership and management in your organization, consider how can you empower your staff to help them reduce the chances of burnout.
- Conflict. Conflict with the organization’s mission, vision and values. Unresolved conflicts with your peers or your manager.
- Do this: Address it immediately and thoughtfully. Hire for alignment with mission, vision and values. Ensure that your employees thoroughly understand and are engaged in your organization’s mission, vision and values. There will be conflict, yet make sure it’s addressed and resolved.
- Work. Too much work. Too little work. Unclear expectations about work. Limited resources and training to perform and complete work. Lack of appropriate compensation for work. Broken promises by the employer. Lack of appreciation and recognition.
- Do this: Ensure expectations are clear. Provide the necessary tools and training to ensure employee success. Balance the workload among employees. Recognize accomplishments. Celebrate victories. Ensure fair and equitable compensation. Keep your promises. Avoid favorites. Communicate.
Burnout is an ongoing issue, but it doesn’t have to happen in your practice. It is only through a thorough understanding of the causes of burnout, coupled with a thoughtful and comprehensive plan to guard against it, that we can ensure a culture and work environment that will not foster burnout.
- Hear from Christina Maslach about burnout in healthcare in her appearance on the MGMA Small Talk podcast.
- Gain insight on using staff engagement programs to reduce provider and staff burnout based on Feb. 20 MGMA Stat poll findings.
Kenneth T. Hertz, FACMPE