Employee Health (EH) executives are responsible for the well-being of an array of healthcare workers, including those in the EH departments, where data on incidents, illnesses, and injuries are recorded and processed. While increasingly sophisticated hospital software has assisted in collecting and interpreting physical health and compliance data, executives face new pressure to deal with ever-growing employee burnout and turnover rates, which are harder to measure and record. To add to the problem, healthcare executives themselves face unprecedented levels of burnout.1
Below, we’ll discuss the importance of including burnout in overall measurements of employee health for hospitals and how EH departments and their leaders can use digital tools to address mental health issues to retain staff and ensure the highest standard of care for patients.
Why Employee Burnout Matters in Healthcare
Healthcare workers have always experienced unique mental health challenges that lead to stress, depression, and burnout.2 These issues were exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, but they were already a significant source of poor health and employee turnover in hospitals, affecting over one-half of physicians and one-third of nurses well before 2020.3
Among healthcare workers, burnout can lead to a cascade of problems that quickly begin to affect patient care, including:
- Relationship and addiction issues
- Poor workplace engagement
- Healthcare worker suicide
Emotional distress among healthcare workers has also been linked to:
- Medical errors such as prescribing the wrong drug or dosage
- Ordering too many or too few tests
- High turnover rates
- Malpractice suits
- Poor physician-patient communication, leading to low rates of patient compliance and satisfaction4
The cost of neglecting these issues in favor of concentrating on seemingly more straightforward injuries, illnesses, and exposures in the workplace undermines a natural approach to employee health and well-being. This costs far more in the long run due to absenteeism, employee turnover, and adverse effects on patient care.5
The Role of EH in Addressing Employee Burnout
Burnout is also prevalent among healthcare leaders, and focusing on signs and symptoms may allow EH executives to examine their own mental health issues and how it affects their work.6 While it can be a challenging exercise, it can also lead to increased empathy and a more thorough understanding of why the problem needs to be addressed immediately. But even then, we’re left with questions about how to identify and measure burnout and its indicators precisely.
The first step towards dealing with healthcare worker burnout is understanding the contributing factors, especially those that EH executives can influence directly. Research has found that the following workplace issues often accompany work-related stress and eventual burnout:7
- Work hours
- Time spent on-call
- Staff-to-patient ratios
- Payment models
Some workplace conditions may be more complicated for EH executives to measure but are equally critical predictors of burnout, such as:
- Work process inefficiencies (e.g., clerical burdens)
- Management culture
- A lack of opportunity for collaboration, professional advancement, and social support
- A loss of autonomy in decision-making
- Perceived on-the-job safety
Using Software Solutions to Look at Employees’ Well-Being
The medical software used in hospitals helps EH departments track their employees’ health and wellbeing. The pandemic has normalized the use of hospital software, and intuitive interfaces have allowed Employee Health executives to gain access to reporting insights that older paper-based methods could not. In addition, employees have grown accustomed to using the software portals to upload vaccine compliance information, track occupational medicine claims, access telehealth, answer wellness surveys, etc.
Before EH executives implement new policies, they’ll need data to narrow down problems and justify solutions. That data can come from measuring performance indicators, such as sick days, or more qualitative data, like employee feedback. But the goal is to collect this data in a way that is reliable and that can be standardized to minimize the burden on employees and EH departments.
If you want to learn more about how Net Health® Employee Health software can help overall well-being part of your culture of care, schedule a demo.
5 Best Practices for Employee Health Executives
1 WittKieffer, “The Impact of Burnout on Healthcare Executives: A WittKieffer Study,” Accessed April 18, 2022.
2 Frontiers in Public Health, “Prioritizing the Mental Health and Well-Being of Healthcare Workers: An Urgent Global Public Health Priority,” May 7, 2021.
3 Cureus, “Burnout in United States Healthcare Professionals: A Narrative Review,” December 2018.
4 Mayo Clinic Proceedings, “Physician Burnout, Well-being, and Work Unit Safety Grades in Relationship to Reported Medical Errors,” November 1, 2018.
5 McKinsey & Company, “National Surveys Reveal Disconnect Between Employees and Employers Around Mental Health Need,” April 21, 2021.
6 Mayo Clinic Proceedings, “Executive Leadership and Physician Well-being: Nine Organizational Strategies to Promote Engagement and Reduce Burnout,” January 1, 2017.
7 National Academy of Medicine, “Burnout Among Health Care Professionals: A Call to Explore and Address This Underrecognized Threat to Safe, High-Quality Care,” July 5, 2017.