Healthcare administrators are one of the most crucial members of any healthcare organization. They are responsible for managing their staff, ensuring that patients receive the best care possible, and making sure that all operations run smoothly. Healthcare administrators may also be called on to deal with a wide range of difficult situations and emotions—and it’s not always easy to do so. There’s a lot at stake when you’re dealing with people who are sick or injured.
Understanding burnout: It’s more than just being tired
Burnout is a serious health issue that can lead to depression, other mental health issues, and physical health problems. While it’s easy to think of burnout as just being tired or feeling overworked, it’s important to remember that this is something more than just being overworked or tired.
It’s also important to understand the different types of burnout:
- Emotional exhaustion—a feeling of depletion and lack of enthusiasm for work (and life) in general.
- Depersonalization—the inability to feel empathy toward others and their struggles; feeling like a robot who has lost his humanity.
- Low personal accomplishment—feeling like you don’t accomplish anything because you constantly feel overwhelmed by everything going on around you
Recognizing and preventing burnout
As an engaged leader, you should already have a baseline understanding of employee morale. But it’s hard to prevent burnout if you don’t know the warning signs. We’ve compiled a few of the most common symptoms of employee burnout. When evaluating your team, keep an eye out for changes in behavior. If you notice the following symptoms, it could be a sign that someone is suffering from burnout:
- Excessive fatigue or exhaustion
- Apathy and disengagement at work
- Poor communication with coworkers and patients
If you start to notice your team displaying characteristics that are out of the ordinary, it’s worth digging deeper. A healthy workplace culture is one where employees feel valued and supported. When an employee experiences burnout, it can have a detrimental effect on the entire team. This is why it’s important to catch signs of burnout early and nip them in the bud before they become too severe.
Burnout can be prevented – but it takes strong leadership skills to curb the negative effects and implications of burnout.
1. Manage Your Time
The first step in reducing potential burnout is to manage your time more efficiently. This can be a challenge as it often means taking a hard look at your current method of managing time, habits, and routines. Take the time to evaluate where things are falling short in terms of productivity, efficiency, and effectiveness. There are many ways to do this such as:
- Setting priorities
- Setting goals
- Ensuring adequate staffing levels
After you have evaluated how you are currently spending your time and how it could be better utilized, take steps towards improvement by:
- Learning how and when to delegate tasks
- Taking advantage of technology that will help automate parts of your job
2. Decrease Stress through Regular Exercise
This is some good news. Regular exercise not only makes you stronger, but it also helps to improve your sleep quality and can even help reduce stress. Additionally, if you are feeling more positive as a result of exercising, this may further help you manage stress levels.
So what does this mean for burnout prevention? The benefits of regular exercise might include:
- Feeling stronger
- Sleeping better
- Managing stress better (which should lead to fewer health problems)
3. Redistribute the workload
The third method of reducing burnout is to redistribute your workload. This can be done by making sure that all staff members are properly trained and prepared for their duties, as well as by reassigning tasks so that everyone is doing what they do best.
This can be achieved by dividing up the work among different people, each with their area of expertise and interest. This will ensure that no one person feels overwhelmed by their particular task while allowing each person to take on more than just one type of role to streamline operations and increase productivity. By making sure every member of your team has plenty to do, you’ll decrease any feelings of inadequacy or isolation that may lead to burnout later down the road.
Redistributing the workload also requires a discussion on boundaries.
The lines between professional and personal time can blur with employees, particularly within a hybrid environment. Distractions from children or spouses, in addition to a lack of routine, may only make things worse. When you notice employees struggling with burnout symptoms, step in and help come up with strategies for setting boundaries. For example, you could work with an employee who struggles to ‘turn off’ to have a set time each evening to turn off the work computer and phone. Encourage them to take lunch breaks and set work aside on the weekends. It may not change the behavior right away, but making expectations clear will help lessen some of the pressure a burnt-out employee may feel.
4. Get Plenty of Sleep
Getting enough sleep is important for your health and well-being, but getting the rest you need can be difficult. If you’re suffering from burnout, getting more sleep could be the key to reducing stress levels. According to the National Sleep Foundation (NSF), adults should aim for between seven and nine hours of shut-eye per night; however, other organizations recommend different amounts of sleep per day:
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend adults get between seven and eight hours each night;
The American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommends at least seven hours per night for healthy adults aged 18–60 years old;
In general, try listening to your body’s natural cues that tell you when it’s time for bed—like when you feel tired or notice yourself yawning frequently throughout the day—and try going to bed at roughly this time every night.
5. Take Care of Yourself Mentally and Spiritually
Taking care of yourself mentally is critical to reducing potential burnout as a healthcare administrator. You can do this by learning new skills and trying new things, such as practicing meditation or taking classes on topics that interest you. It’s also important to have a good support network in place for when burnout does happen – having someone to lean on is essential!
You may want to consider seeking counseling if you feel your mental health has been compromised due to work stressors. Another key step would be making sure there are proper policies in place within your workplace that assist with mental health issues; this will help prevent employees from suffering silently, which can be detrimental in the long run since it could lead them down an unhealthy path where they may eventually start abusing substances like alcohol or drugs (which have also been linked with increased risk for heart disease).
Burnout among healthcare administrative staff was an issue long before the pandemic and has only been compounded by its impact. Employees may not even realize they’re in the midst of overwhelm. To escape the mounting pressure to perform well, they may end up making short-term sacrifices that lead them to further exhaustion.
With these five steps, you can reduce your potential for burnout. But remember that there are some things you simply won’t be able to control—like the amount of work that comes in every day or how much sleep you get each night. That said, this is an excellent place to start! You may want to focus on one step at a time until it becomes routine before moving on to another one.