What Facilities Can Do To Reduce Nurse Burnout
Many facility managers and DONs have their hands full with their own day-to-day tasks and don’t always have the time to provide their Nurse and CNA staff with recognition programs and breaks. But when you factor in the effects nurse burnout can have on the performance of your facility, it’s clear that it’s just as important for a facility management team to be attentive to the ground-level work-life of their nursing staff. When communication between nursing staff and facility management gets cut off, nurses start to feel less cared for, less appreciated, and start to disengage from their work, causing a host of problems for the facility at large.
Why should facilities address nurse burnout?
Nurse burnout can affect nurse facility finances and operations
If a nurse shows up to work tired, disengaged, and unappreciated, they aren’t providing their highest quality of care. In healthcare, even the smallest of oversights can result in serious errors. Not only do these mistakes lower the quality of patient care, but they may cause legal and compliance-related problems.
In addition, patients and their families notice when a nurse is burned out, which leads to lower satisfaction with the facility. When nurses leave their jobs due to burnout, facilities have to recruit, hire, train, and orient new nurses. That costs a lot of money — not to mention what constant turnover does to staff morale.
However, even if facilities recognize and understand the importance of caring for their nurses, doing so in an effective way may involve a considerable investment of time, resources, and money that some healthcare facilities can’t afford. If that’s the case for your facility, there are low-cost practices that address nurse burnout, too.
What can nursing facilities do to address nurse burnout?
Look out for signs of stress
Nurses often hide their stress when they come to work because they fear judgment or punitive action from management. So it’s not always easy to identify who’s experiencing nurse burnout and why.
A common sign of burnout is a decrease in enthusiasm for the job. For example, if a nurse who usually is very social starts avoiding colleagues, or if a team player starts to withdraw from team activities, it’s likely a sign of burnout.
Nursing facilities attuned to nurse burnout make it standard practice to check the pulse of their workplace to positively engage nurses. For example, a facility may find that a nurse missed shifts, left early, complains, or disagrees with co-workers more than normal. In this case, a punishment causes more problems than it solves. Instead, find ways to engage the nurse in a positive way. This helps them individually and sets an example for other nurses, which in turn fosters a culture of care.
Teach and implement self-care strategies
Another way to build a caring culture is to teach and promote self-care strategies. It’s helpful for nurses to learn how to separate work from home life. Encourage them to share their hobbies in an appreciation initiative like “caregiver of the week.” let them know that their life outside of the facility is as valuable to you as it is inside the facility. There are plenty of low-cost culture-building strategies that facilities implement, either remotely or in-facility, to address their facility’s nurse burnout.
If possible, a personalized approach is the best way to address the problem. Every nurse is different, so the causes of their burnout symptoms are, too. Even if your facility doesn’t have the time and resources to commit to self-care programs or break spaces, it’s still important to take a few minutes out of the day to send a weekly morning email, for example, to facility staff to prompt a friendly social comfortability. If your nurses feel comfortable, they’re more likely to seek out help if they need it. Camaraderie is hard to foster, but providing platforms for nurses to engage and laugh with each other is the first step to improving their comfortability and productivity.
When facilities prioritize wellness from the top-down, it can lead to tangible improvements in quality of care and worker happiness. Surveys find that nurses often work through their breaks. So it’s no surprise that nurses’ stress levels rise when it’s not clear that the facility management team values their break time.
Nursing facility leaders, such as doctors, DONs, and RNs, need to make sure their nurses take enough time off during their shift to be alert and prepared to give quality care. If leadership doesn’t make it clear that staff’s mental wellness and alertness are valued, nurse burnout reduction efforts will likely be ineffective. So make sure to engage different levels of leadership in efforts to reduce nurse burnout.
Provide tools to foster healthy work/life balance
All of these efforts come back to one thing – providing quality of life to nurses at your facility. To do that, it’s crucial to have a set of tools that can tangibly affect nurses’ work/life balance. One of the best tools around for this problem is IntelyCare Staffing and IntelyCare Scheduling. These tools allow nursing staff to pick up shifts and arrange their schedule according to what works best for them, without overloading the facility scheduling process. When nurses have control over their work schedule, it gives them more control over their lives, and the weight lifted from their shoulders is tangible. Suddenly, your nurses don’t have to skip things like an important family obligation to work overtime, saving you money, and saving them stress that leads to lower quality of care. And for you, the facility manager, IntelyCare Scheduling has already swapped shifts with someone who is available and willing to get to work at your facility.