Have you heard of the terms “circle of influence" and "circle of concern" coined by Stephen R. Covey in The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People? The term "circle of influence" refers to the areas of life you have the power to impact and "circle of concern" refers to things you're worried about but don't have control over.
It’s easy to spin your wheels stressing over things outside your circle of influence—such as a pandemic, constantly changing healthcare regulations, which insurance plans your patients carry, the list goes on... But if you manage your office or clinic, you do have the influence to ease some of the stressors that can lead to burnout to boost employee morale.
You can be a catalyst for positive change and make your workplace a happier place during trying times! Start with these 5 ideas.
Take A Pulse On Your Office's Current Morale
The number of physicians who experience burnout is growing year over year. But, are physicians the only ones experiencing burnout right now? Pretty much everyone who works in healthcare is experiencing COVID fatigue. With the year you've had, it can be easy to overlook things like "are my employees feeling valued?" To help remedy this, send out a short and confidential (so they feel they can be truly honest!) employee engagement survey to gather this feedback. Ask questions like "Would you refer someone to work here?"
Take a look at the results to take a pulse on your current workplace morale. If something needs to change, this is where you'll discover what that might be. Then, communicate these changes and that you are committed to employee wellbeing.
When you are open and honest with your staff, you foster an atmosphere of trust. You’ve heard this one before because it’s the first step to improving relationships and in turn, improves morale. If you want to improve your relationship your staff, you need to make an effort to communicate with them in a way that fosters mutual respect. Here’s a trick to get started that may seem obvious: use their name when talking to them. It’s simple but it starts to help them feel that you respect and value them as a part of your healthcare team.
When you need to get information to different teams, swing by and talk with them instead of just emailing or writing orders. This allows an opportunity for you to clarify specifics, ensure there are no misunderstandings, and help create a teamwork atmosphere to boost employee morale.
Empower Your Employees
Give employees the information and authority they need to plan and execute needed change. This not only fosters innovation, but communicates respect. Working as a team in your office can lead to better work environment, less malpractice and better patient outcomes.
A study published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology followed a department’s efforts to put a dent in adverse patient reactions. Physicians and nurses were trained how to improve communication and resolve conflict, a nurse-led safety committee was implemented, and a culture was established that allowed nurses and physicians alike to challenge and discuss patient care decisions. This new way of working together as a team far exceeded the expectations and led to a significant decrease in the number of adverse patient outcomes and malpractice lawsuits, cutting their liability payments by 95%.
Address Inefficiencies in Your Office
You can reduce needless frustration in your office by identifying and addressing ineffective processes, systems, and equipment. Not sure where the offices inefficiencies are? Include a question in the employee engagement survey about processes that your employees feel need to be "cleaned-up." Then, when you implement these changes, they will feel heard and valued.
Show Appreciation for Your Employees
Finding new and different ways of showing your appreciation for the work your employees do will help you to foster positive work relationships. Start by setting the stage for social(ly) distant connections by celebrating holidays and company milestones together. When possible, participate as a company in fundraising activities or rec teams. These activities can build teamwork and good working relationships. Make it a point to say happy birthday, and recognize employees on their work anniversaries and when they hit important goals. Plus, a heartfelt thank you to team members goes a long way, especially if you are specific about what you value about an employee’s contribution.
Another way to show appreciation for your employees is to be flexible with their time off. Lack of vacation, personal time, and sick time for themselves, children, or other dependents is a major contributor to burnout. Help your employees by establishing flexible policies. If you trust your employees, you'll know they won't take advantage of your flexibility with their schedules.
You can’t remove the stressors inherent to the practice of medicine, but you can make a difference in your office culture. Use your circle of influence to improve your workplace experience and boost office morale.
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