6 tips for avoiding staff burnout

By Michelle McNickle
11:02 AM

With the landscape of healthcare changing, IT departments are finding themselves as busy as ever.

And with the stress of mandates and new technologies also come the risk of staff burnout, dissatisfaction, and even the loss of human resources. 

“Everything that’s happening right now inside the healthcare arena -- it’s a tough area, not only inside of the payer and provider environment, but also in the service organizations,” said Guillermo Moreno, vice president of Experis Healthcare. “The pace of this is really, really intense, and everyone’s running at 1,000 miles an hour to get things done. Organizations are trying to be aggressive to maximize time, effort, and energy to achieve not only their business goals, but in some instances, meaningful use and to capitalize on those dollars as quickly as they can.”

Given the hectic state of the industry and the growing demands placed on IT staff, we asked Moreno to outline six tips for avoiding staff burnout. 

1. Set specific goals for your organization. It’s no secret professionals are “getting churned very heavily,” said Moreno, and short of slowing down government-mandated processes, the pace of their work probably won’t change soon. What can help, though, is clarifying your goals to help employees streamline their focus. “Everyone has a series of different initiatives and requirements -- some of them are pure business, some are market business, and some are strategic to the organization,” said Moreno. “They have their own placement of things they have to do.” 

2. Keep an eye on government mandates and how they impact your workforce. On top of an organization’s specific goals, Moreno continued, the government is taking a closer at the aggressiveness of requirements. “There was a bit of relaxation around [HIPAA] 5010, and now you’re starting to see the noise around relaxing ICD-10,” he said. “That’s recognition there are a lot of things broken in the process. [The government] is responsible for the fracture, if you will.” Although slowing down “the engine” could provide relief to employs in the form of delays, Moreno warned of the market’s reaction. “The next few years, the heap of activity and focus is going to be around meaningful use and MU stage 2,” he said. “All that means is, if [we] can get the government to relax the requirements on one end, then the byproduct is, I can run really fast to get as much reimbursement dollars as I can.”

[See also: 8 trends for a changing healthcare workforce.]

3. Work collaboratively. In the end, said Moreno, it won’t benefit the individual employee if the staff as a whole continues to be at a high churn. “They’re going to get focused in different directions and refocused and aligned to meet some other requirement,” he said. “So, in the context of that, the organization needs to start looking at their entire work staff and [form] their plans and requirements around the individual.” Take inventory of the initiatives each person is associated with, and once that’s established, think of creative ways to work more collaboratively. “One area that helps burnout is collaboration,” said Moreno. “If you have skills that are in high demand and are associated with a very specific agenda and requirements inside an organization, then you can sense and feel corporate pressure to get things done and can do so more easily with the help of others.” In addition, make sure there’s enough support to be able to cycle employees and get them to work in teams, “so you’re offloading and providing relief to individuals as the requirements are met,” Moreno said.  

Continued on the next page. 

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