It is no secret that healthcare is currently facing a massive retention issue. To stop healthcare providers (HCPs) from leaving the industry in droves, facilities have to invest in fostering healthy and welcoming work environments. To learn why this is so important and how this can be accomplished. Read the article below.
What characterizes a “healthy” workplace environment?
The mental and physical aspects of a workplace inform each other, and must be equally recognized as a result. The “physical” aspect safety from exposure to viruses and bodily injuries, along with nutrition and fitness. Mental health refers to a patient’s emotional wellbeing, their satisfaction with their current contributions, and their sense of agency within the workplace. How they get along with their teammates, and their sense of “belonging” within the workplace is also important, as healthcare is an extremely collaborative process. The idea of a “healthy workplace” is multifaceted. Healthy work environments protect both an HCP’s mental and physical health, in equal measure.
Why is a healthy work environment so important?
On a basic level, healthcare facilities owe it to their HCPs to protect them. A number of facilities have fostered toxic workplace environments rife with distrust, miscommunication and workplace harassment. Healthcare is already a dangerous line of work where professionals are expected to expose themselves to infectious diseases and death on a regular basis. For that reason alone, facility managers need to protect the employees under their payroll from further abuse and mistreatment.
In addition, some studies have drawn a positive correlation between a healthier workplace environment and better productivity. When HCPs are looked after, they are mentally present and physically prepared for the workday ahead of them. This reduces the risk of costly medical errors that come about thanks to waning focus, due to a lack of energy. HCPs who feel valued by their employers are also less likely to leave their positions, which decreases turnover rates across the organization. In short, everyone wins when HCPs are happy.
How can I create a healthy workplace environment for my HCPs?
Fostering a healthy workplace environment requires a great deal of organizational commitment, from top to bottom. Managers and CEOs must lead by example and invest resources intelligently, if they want to create a welcoming workplace culture for their employees. Though there is no “one size fits all” solution, these are several effective ways to establish said culture:
Protect your HCPs
Burnout and overwork has been the main challenge faced by facilities, in a post-pandemic world. Younger HCPs have felt depressed, overworked, and dissatisfied with their profession, which has resulted in widespread turnover on a national scale. A great deal of these issues can be traced back to inadequate staffing ratios. Without proper staffing levels, HCPs are forced to take on an unsustainably large number of patients, at a time. Shifting between various complex responsibilities drains healthcare workers, accelerates burnout, and opens the door for medical errors that put the patient in danger. Staffing adequately is the first step to ensuring a healthy work environment. If you cannot afford bringing in a full-time staff member, then flexible solutions like VitaWerks will allow you to temporarily on-board qualified and ready-to-contribute HCPs.
Consider cultural alignment
You cannot indiscriminately onboard HCPs, based on your resume alone. Every workplace has their own unique set of mission statements and values. An HCP that thrives with one type of culture may not connect with another. Keep this in mind, when you bring them for an interview. Get a feel of what they prioritize, how much they knew about your facility beforehand, and what they felt about the culture of their previous workplace. At the same time, you can project the culture and approach that your facility likes to take. Both parties can get a sense as to whether their visions align with each other, and can proceed from there.
Lead by example
It is one thing to “talk about” the culture you intend to project, and what HCPs can expect when they work in your facility. Following up on your words with actions is a different matter entirely. If you want your staff to buy into the facility culture, you need to show them that you are committed to it as well. Managers who want to foster an environment of collaboration must be team players themselves. They need to encourage HCPs to provide their inputs during crucial round ups. If possible, they should arrange team meetings and welcome feedback from everyone, regarding current operations. If you want to promote gratitude on a staff-wide level, you should take any opportunity to thank your HCPs for a job well done. All this may not seem like much, but it adds up. If you are committed, the rest of your team will believe what you have to say.
Creating a healthier workplace environment is not easy. Everyone needs to commit to a single vision, and it starts from the top. Without a company-wide commitment to excellence and clear mission statement, this is hard to achieve. Ultimately, the payoff is well worth the investment.