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Creating Employee Health and Well-being Within Healthcare Organizations

by The Leadership Development Group

With the ongoing wave of resignations sweeping the country, healthcare employees are experiencing some of the highest levels of burnout. Nearly 3 of every 10 healthcare workers have plans to leave their jobs in the near future due to burnout. Increased turnover results in lower quality patient care—making employee health and well-being absolutely vital to the well-being of patients. Research suggests that strategically investing in efforts to foster worker well-being not only improves employee health but can also bring about beneficial business outcomes such as improved job performance (including increased productivity), and lower levels of employee burnout. To capitalize on these benefits we invite you to consider the important roles that organizations, leaders, and individuals play in creating workplace health and well-being and strategies for improvements.

The Role of Organizations in Creating Employee Health and Well-being

Recent studies show less than 25% of employees believe their workplace genuinely cares about their well-being—a record low in the past 10 years. Improving employee health and well-being begins with organizations demonstrating they value employees as people not just a means to an end of getting work done. Our experience tells us that when people feel they have the right tools, resources, and time to execute in their roles, they feel less stressed and more productive on the job. Organizations can help make improvements in these areas by listening to employees’ perspectives and seeking out opportunities to streamline processes. “If you’re looking to invest in employee well-being, it’s more than offering additional paid time off, rest and relaxation rooms, and mindfulness exercises. It’s about creating the conditions for employees to take advantage of wellness offerings and modeling practices aligned to health and well-being throughout the organization,” shares Tracy Duberman, President and CEO of TLD Group. 

In addition to seeking opportunities to reduce unnecessary administrative burdens and create process efficiencies, organizations can support employee health and well-being through thoughtful work design and management practices. For decades, studies have revealed that increased job control—defined as the amount of discretion employees have over what they do and how they do it—results in improved physical health. In recent years, the same research showed that limited job control can negatively impact mental health. By creating roles with more fluidity and autonomy, and by developing leaders that empower others and limit micromanagement, an organization not only builds trust with employees but actively improves their health and well-being. 

Looking to drive positive change in employee health and well-being? Our leadership academies are a powerful tool for engaging employees, identifying and understanding existing areas of opportunity, and empowering them to create positive solutions to improve health and well-being. 

The Role of Leaders in Creating Employee Health and Well-being

The ongoing shortage of healthcare workers is largely a result of the physical & emotional trauma they endured as a result of COVID-19 in conjunction with burnout. A key role for healthcare leaders is to empathize with their staff, especially those staff who take care of others. We know leaders who demonstrate a personal connection to their team to drive employee well-being. Yes, leaders need to create strong performance and results. But this is only part of the job, as employees cannot contribute their best selves to their work if they are unhealthy. 

“As a leader, make sure you’re blocking off time in between meetings for getting work done so that work doesn’t end up becoming something that takes over your nights and weekends,” shares Tara Satlow, Senior Vice President of Client Solutions. “Adjusting meeting times to allow 5 to 10 minutes of transition time can give team members valuable time to decompress within their busy schedules. It is important for leaders to honor these boundaries once they are set. Walking the talk helps set the tone for healthier team culture.” 

Leaders also need to listen to and elevate the concerns of team members. Leaders must learn how to have authentic supportive discussions, demonstrate connection and vulnerability, and deeply listen to and empower their teams to improve processes and remove frustrations. Investing in leadership development assists in creating a culture where employees thrive.

The Role of Individuals in Creating Employee Health and Well-being

While leadership plays an important role in overall well-being, individuals should feel empowered to support themselves by setting and maintaining healthy boundaries at work. In the healthcare industry especially, employees feel a strong need to work selflessly. This is a wonderful quality for producing high-quality patient care, but can ultimately result in faster burnout without time and attention focused on caring for oneself first. 

In a recent TLD Group podcast episode, Dr. Jim Dunn, Chief People and Culture Officer at Atrium Health, shared his belief that “physicians and other healthcare employees must understand how to put their own facemask on first before administering care to others.” The key lies in finding ways to incorporate self-care within the workday, not just once arriving home. Small habits, such as consistently taking a lunch break or chatting with coworkers about non-work-related topics can build a happier and healthier work environment. Executive coaching for employees can help create healthy boundaries and habits that encourage stronger well-being on the individual level, ultimately resulting in higher quality patient care, more efficient work, and decreased turnover. “Coaching is all about honoring the individual as a whole, capable, and resourceful. Through coaching, individuals can tap more fully into themselves, honoring their own needs in relation to health and wellness, and gaining a deeper understanding of what they need in order to bring their best selves to work each day,” shares Tracy Duberman.

Final Thoughts

Cultivating employee health and well-being is key to delivering efficient, high-quality patient care. Leaders should focus on building up teammates’ abilities to set and maintain healthy boundaries at work while offering increased job control and flexibility. Finding ways to bolster engagement, autonomy, and mental health in employees is crucial to combatting the ever-growing epidemic of healthcare worker burnout.

Building employee health and well-being begins with quality leadership. Get in touch with us and our team of expert leadership development consultants can help you explore strategies for enhancing health and well-being in your workplace.

Topics: Leadership Development, Healthcare Ecosystem, Leadership, Leadership Resources, Mindfulness, Team Development