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Tackling staff burnout through engagement

By Shannon Geis
March 23, 2017
Body of Knowledge Domain(s): Human Resource Management

Are you worried about staff and provider burnout in your practice but not sure what to do about it? You are not alone.

An overwhelming majority of respondents to this week’s MGMA Stat poll said they do not have a staff engagement program to reduce burnout. Another 15% responded that their organization is in the progress of instituting a program, while 14% said they have a program for all staff and 7% said they have a program in place for their providers. 

The poll was conducted on March 21, 2017 and had 1,052 applicable responses out of 1,110 total responses. 

If you aren’t already addressing burnout in your practice, you may want to start. Burnout — the prolonged response to chronic situational stressors on the job — can be linked to poor quality of patient care, medical errors, a greater risk of depression and a stronger intention to leave the medical profession, according to Christina Maslach, PhD, University of California, Berkeley. 

She says that often burnout is mistakenly labeled as an individual problem, leaving the underlying systemic and cultural problems that cause it unaddressed. So how do you tackle those systemic problems? Maslach says that prevention through engagement is the best approach: “Social, collaborative strategies with colleagues may be more effective ways to achieve positive changes in the workplace.”

Maslach recommends that organizations do regular check-ups to understand how the organization is doing in six strategic areas:

  • Workload – Do staff members feel like they have a sustainable amount of work to do on a regular basis? 
  • Control – Do staff members feel like they can make choices and solve problems?
  • Reward – Do staff members receive sufficient recognition and reward for doing their jobs well? 
  • Community – Do staff members feel that they have a supportive work community?
  • Fairness – Do staff members believe that they are treated fairly and that the organization has consistent and equitable rules for everyone?
  • Values – Are the organization’s values clear and meaningful?

By understanding how an organization performs in these areas, administrators can identify where meaningful improvements can be developed and implemented, says Maslach. 

To learn more about how to address burnout in your organization, check out “Caring for caregivers: Addressing physician burnout” (member content) from the August 2016 issue of MGMA Connection magazine. 

MGMA Stat is a national poll that addresses practice management topics, the impact of new legislation and related topics. Participation is open to all healthcare leaders. 

Shannon Geis, Staff writer/editor, MGMA

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