Employees are a key component of any medical practice. They are the spokes that keep the wheel of your practice turning in alignment with the goals you set out to achieve. That’s why it’s crucial to identify and prevent employee burnout…

What happens when you notice a certain employee—who was once a great asset to your business—start to disengage? Though it is often overlooked or discounted, employee burnout is real. So real, in fact, that it has gained much attention in recent years.

A Gallup study of nearly 7,500 full-time employees found that 23% of employees reported feeling burned out at work very often or always, while an additional 44% reported feeling burned out sometimes. That means about 2/3 of full-time workers experience burnout on the job.

The effects of employee burnout can be detrimental to a small practice. So, here are few simple ways that you can recognize, reverse, and prevent podiatry employee burnout and reduce unnecessary workplace stressors.

In order to recognize when an employee is burning out, you need to know what employee burnout actually is.

Employee burnout can be described as any situation in which an employee once committed to their work has become distant or withdrawn from their co-workers and responsibilities.

Some of the behaviors you might see in an employee suffering from burnout include apathy, withdrawal, exhaustion, or cynicism within the workplace. They often start to show up late or frequently miss work altogether.

Burnout has 3 primary symptoms:

1. Exhaustion

Employees who suffer from burnout often feel drained and emotionally exhausted. Over time, this symptom manifests itself with an inability to cope and low energy.

2. Detachment and cynicism

Often when an employee is dealing with burnout, they will detach themselves from the job and their co-workers. They will be less likely to attend or engage in work-related activities.

3. Doubt in their ability

The feeling of inability to do their job at all, let alone do it well, starts to plague employees dealing with burnout. They feel that they are of little or no value to your practice.

Employers need to be aware of their role in adding to the workplace stress that leads to burnout—heavy workloads, job insecurity, lack of recognition, and frustrating work routines are some of the things that should be considered when trying to diagnose and prevent employee burnout.

You can prevent burnout (and even reverse it) by changing how you manage and lead your employees. However, if you don’t address the root problem of podiatry employee burnout in your practice, you will experience it as a chronic issue.

Here is a list of best practices that can help eliminate the issue of employee burnout:

Create a supportive practice culture. Make sure that you value support for one another within the practice. If you notice any cattiness, exclusive cliques, or gossip, the issue needs to be addressed immediately and with sensitivity. Let everyone know that you expect your office staff to work together as a team and that anything disrupting that team mentality will not be tolerated.
Clearly communicate your expectations and job requirements. Make sure that all of your employees understand their roles and how their duties fit into the larger picture of your practice.
Give recognition for a job well done. Remind your employees often that they are of value to your practice. Thank them when they have gone above and beyond as well as when they have done their job effectively.
Be realistic when you are assigning tasks. Have a conversation about the task you want to assign. Be open-minded—if an employee feels overwhelmed, look at other options for accomplishing the new task. Allow them the opportunity of saying no without worrying that it will cost them their job.
Equip employees with the proper tools to accomplish their jobs. It is much easier to do a job well when you have the right equipment. If your employees ask for something to make their job easier, listen and come up with realistic goals to make it happen.
Encourage (but don’t force) friendships. Encouraging friendships through office potlucks or gatherings can create lasting relationships that will be valued. Obviously when you care about the people you work with, it makes your workday much more enjoyable.
Be sensitive to differences. Don’t expect everyone to fit the mold of a perfect employee. Instead, understand that people are often very different from one another. They may process and hear things differently, even when you feel that is has been communicated clearly. Be sure to ask questions so that everyone is on the same page.
Communicate clearly and frequently. Don’t expect people to know your expectations if they differ from their regular tasks. Daily 10-minute meetings are often a great way to map out the day and give clear expectations. If you hold a daily meeting, don’t forget to thank your staff.
Set a clear example. Your employees will follow your lead. If you are succumbing to burnout, so will they. Be sure that you are “practicing what you preach.” Because of the many demands placed on them, business owners are very susceptible to burnout. If you feel that this description fits you, then you need to make immediate changes. Consider reducing the amount of work done in the office by outsourcing to reliable companies where possible.
Besides the obvious wasted cost of training employees and low productivity, employee burnout can be associated with many other unnecessary business costs.

Your employees are likely the first people to interact with your patients, and their attitude will reflect the attitude of the practice. Unhappy employees who have lost the desire and energy to do their job well can ultimately affect your entire practice, from patients to other office staff.

Employees suffering from burnout are also more likely to not follow through on billing or collections as ambitiously as they once did, leading to a chaotic billing and collections process for both the practice and the patient.

Though it can be costly, there is good news and it starts with you. You can use these tips to identify and prevent employee burnout. These minor adjustments may be all it takes to return vitality and ambition back to your staff and podiatry practice.

Hippocratic Solutions