The healthcare industry faces many challenges as it delivers compassionate care to patients of all ages. One of the primary challenges is that of workplace “burnout”, where caregivers like nurses and physicians experience high stress levels and a subsequent decline in performance. This is often due to excessively high workloads and corresponding expectations among administrators and patients alike. Facility administrators of healthcare facilities need to address this burnout in an effort to reduce workers’ compensation claims. By promoting wellness among staff members, facilities may also be able to improve staff retention rates.
Workplace Risks for Healthcare Professionals
Patient health depends on caregivers’ ability to perform their tasks with accuracy and competence. Unfortunately, the American healthcare model has let many caregivers down, exposing them to numerous workplace-related risks and piling responsibilities on – beyond caregivers’ ability to perform at optimal levels.
Some of the many risks facing healthcare staffers include:
- Exposure to infectious pathogens (bacteria and viruses)
- Musculoskeletal injuries from lifting and transporting patients/equipment
- Needle injuries
- Exposure to allergens, including latex
- Workplace violence
- Physical/mental injuries due to high stress levels
As a result of the risks caregivers face, there is an epidemic of obesity, chronic disease, and workplace injury claims in the healthcare industry. In 2010 alone, healthcare employers reported over 600,000 workplace-related injuries – a number vastly higher than some of the most dangerous industries like construction, mining, and forestry. This high number translates into millions of dollars in workers’ compensation claims, not to mention liability claims and the penalties, legal fees, and settlements associated with lawsuits. It is imperative that healthcare administrators address these expenses, protecting both the facility’s operation and its valuable staff members.
Wellness Programs Work
While the fast-paced work environment may make employee wellness programs difficult to establish in healthcare facilities, there is no doubt that this concept protects staff and facility resources. In fact, several healthcare facilities have experienced dramatic improvements among staff members. At the Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland, Ohio, a program was launched to combat employee stress and burnout. The program targeted caregivers who were experiencing these risks, providing them with the tools and resources needed to overcome high stress levels. This is just one of numerous success stories associated with healthcare employee wellness programs. In a Gallup poll conducted in 2015, it was found that medical professionals who thrived in workplace wellness initiatives were far more likely to remain with a given facility rather than look for another job. This factor alone significantly reduces the costs associated with recruiting, training, and retaining key employees, and employers reap the benefits.
Wellness programs often consist of several components, each working to preserve employee health and safety. These components include:
- Healthcare screening programs
- Discounts on gym memberships and weight loss counseling services
- Access to workplace massage therapy
- Stress management/stress reduction programs
- Access to healthy snacks and water
- Nap rooms
- Fitness tracking programs
Healthier, less-stressed employees are happier employees, and they are more likely to perform at optimal levels. Healthcare professionals like physicians and nurses are the foundation of any healthcare delivery system, and it makes sense for employers to protect these critical team members. By implementing wellness programs, workers’ compensation claims drop dramatically, saving facilities time and money. Although healthcare facilities across the country face unprecedented workloads and patient needs, wellness programs are a proven formula to reduce employee burnout and to reverse low retention rates. These factors improve patient outcomes, allowing caregivers to deliver compassionate, accurate, and timely care.
About Caitlin Morgan
Caitlin Morgan specializes in insuring assisted living facilities and nursing homes and can assist you in providing insurance and risk management services for this niche market. Give us a call to learn more about our programs at 317.575.4440.