Since the Covid-19 pandemic, employee expectations for their employers —the work environment and corporate culture they cultivate, benefits, mental health support, and the work-life balance — have increased. McKinsey Health Institute conducted research in this area last year questioning what factors affect employee mental health and well-being. The institute’s survey, which included nearly 15,000 employees and spanned 15 countries, found that four in five HR leaders around the world report that mental health and well-being are a top priority for their organization. Healthcare organizations were hit especially hard during the pandemic. Hospitals and health systems were overwhelmed with patients and staff was at high risk of contracting Covid-19 as well. Added to this was the day-to-day stress affecting people in the business of saving lives — from EHR management to workloads to rapidly scaling up telehealth and testing. It’s not difficult to figure out why healthcare employees have faced high levels of burnout. Staffing and drug shortages have added to the complexities of trying to resolve this issue.
In efforts to provide a healthy environment for employees to thrive, companies across industries have rolled out wellness programs such as yoga, meditation app subscriptions, well-being days, time management tips, and productivity guidance.
Hospitals are implementing ways to automate certain tasks so that healthcare staff can focus attention on more complex needs. Additionally, the need to improve working conditions to prevent burnout has also spurred some interesting partnerships. United Health Foundation (UNF) — the philanthropic arm of UnitedHealth Group — and the American Nurses Foundation (ANF) teamed up to launch a three-year, $3.1 million Stress & Burnout Prevention Pilot program at the end of last year.
Managing employee mental health, preventing burnout, and valuing employees will be a theme at the HLTH 2023 event at the Las Vegas Convention Center October 8-11. Some of the panel discussions related to this topic will take place Sunday, October 8 and Monday, October 9.
Running on Empty: 2:00-2:40 pm PT
Picture this: healthcare workers are running on empty like runners whose bodies can no longer endure the race—but they have 10 more patients to see that day, plus all that paperwork. Burnout can increase the likelihood of medical errors and malpractice, lower patient satisfaction, and hinder healthcare workers from forming interpersonal relationships with their patients. The wellbeing of our clinicians is an urgent issue within the healthcare industry and the toll has been so significant that many professionals have either already left or are contemplating leaving their roles. Recognizing the severity of this crisis, the U.S. Surgeon General urged hospitals to step up their efforts in supporting healthcare workers by offering more mental health care and additional resources to address burnout effectively. It is a crucial step forward, but actions speak louder than words, and many organizations are acting. Our healthcare workers are as resilient as they come, so let’s give them the resources and support they need to keep going.
Short on Staff, High on Tech: 2:50 pm – 3:30 pm PT
Hospitals and nursing homes across the country are facing critical staffing shortages. By 2034, we could face a shortage of up to 124,000 physicians. For nurses, that number is even higher, with over 600,000 estimated to leave the profession by 2027. The demand for more healthcare professionals from caregivers to internists to psychiatrists is rising while the supply dwindles due to burnout, work conditions, political interference, and pay, to name a few. AI and automation have stepped in to bridge workforce gaps and streamline administrative tasks. Generative AI could augment 40% of healthcare working hours, freeing up precious time for an already stretched thin workforce. This won’t solve all our problems, but it will offer relief to so many in the field. The future is uncertain, and frankly, a little frightening, but our industry is resilient and we have novel technologies on our side.
Monday, October 9
Lean on Me: Employers Caring for Cancer: 3:00-3:40 pm PT
Cancer is now the number one cost driver for employers. Further, employers remain deeply concerned about the impact of unsustainable healthcare costs on their employees. A cancer diagnosis can be a harrowing experience, impacting the patient and their family’s mental health and well-being — and adding a massive healthcare bill on top of it just compounds it all. Increasingly, employers are stepping in to be the shoulder to lean on during this trying time in an employee’s life. They are routing them to the best care, seeking clinical trial options, and providing transparency for the associated costs. Beyond logistical support, employers are ensuring adequate time off for employees in the middle of receiving care and supporting their families through their cancer care journey. The true mark of a leader is how they act in times of challenge.
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But despite these positive steps, the report found that when there are high levels of toxic behavior, addressing other organizational factors does not meaningfully improve burnout or intent to leave. Organizations pay a high price for failure to address workplace factors, according to a McKinsey Health Institute article referencing the report on employee burnout. Among the hidden costs employers face in these circumstances are: absenteeism, lower engagement, and decreased productivity.
Preliminary data from the McKinsey Health Institute’s 2023 global survey, set to be released later this year, shows that work is associated with how employees perceive their health, including mental, physical, social, and spiritual health, Jacqueline Brassey, co-leader of Employee Health at the McKinsey Health Institute, said in response to emailed questions.
“When employees have good work experiences, they report better health, they are more innovative at work, and they perform better at their jobs. We believe employers have an important role – and a responsibility – to play in creating work environments that support better employee health,” Brassey noted.
To join the conversation at the HLTH event October 8-11 at the Las Vegas Convention Center, register now!
Photo: SIphotography, Getty Images