We hoped for a sprint. Instead, we got a marathon as the COVID-19 pandemic threatens to run long and wear the healthcare workforce down. It's time to refuel your clinical team for the challenges ahead. How do you prevent stress from becoming burnout?

Here are five strategies for building a workforce culture that supports resilience.

Be honest about ongoing challenges

Acknowledge that the crisis and the pace won't let up anytime soon. Happy talk may lead to assumptions that leaders 'don't get it,' which only adds to the stress. You may need to ask people to keep being more productive than they were before COVID-19. You may also have to announce budget cuts due to lost patient revenue — which means doing more with less.

Help your current staff recognize what you can and cannot control. If onboarding new employees, be honest about your workplace's expectations and realities, so there are no surprises.

Act on immediate needs

It's not easy for clinicians to admit they're having difficulty. It's vital to act now. Don't wait until professional behavior begins to erode under excessive stress. Make a short, focused list of burnout mitigators:

  • Make sure everyone feels as safe as possible. Provide sufficient protocols and personal protection equipment.
  • Listen. Provide a central access point so they don't have to work through channels to share their concerns.
  • Lighten the workload as possible. Can you stop or defer non-essential administrative tasks?
  • Prioritize addressing burnout, then go on to resolve other stress issues.

Welcome ideas for improvement

If there's one positive aspect of the health crisis, it's clinicians' willingness to lean in to change. For some healthcare organizations the pandemic has exposed process inefficiencies. In response to the surges in COVID-19 patients, clinicians are embracing changes in how they practice — for example, reducing hours in lower volume specialties and offering after-hours virtual care.

Encourage openness and self-care

Lookfor ways to support the well-being of staff involved in patient care, beginning with a survey to assess stress points, fears and areas in need of your attention. Then designate wellness champions to address any emotional concerns that arise. Create work schedules that allow for adequate sleep and break times. Provide small things like easy access to water, healthy snacks, toiletries and phone chargers.

Share stories of success

Remember the rules of employee recognition and praise specific achievements of individuals and teams. To boost emotional support, let your workforce know you're aware of their work and value their professionalism.

Lift each other up

A motivated, engaged and appreciated staff equals satisfied patients and revenue recovery. If you need help navigating through tough times, give us a call. CMG Health Marketing is ready to be a true partner.