Caregivers often put work demands, patients, and family members first, even at the cost of their own self-care, observes Laura Hamill, PhD, chief science officer and chief people officer at Limeade, a company in Bellevue, WA, that assists employers with improving the employee experience.
This others-first mentality is seen even more during the COVID-19 outbreak, Hamill says. “At the intersection of feeling engaged and mission-driven, but feeling stressed and under-supported, caregivers are at a greater risk for burnout,” she says.
Recovery and burnout prevention are organizational issues, Hamill says. It is the organization’s responsibility to prevent and alleviate employee burnout. Further, organizations must enable employees to care for themselves and recover from work daily, she adds.
Hamill suggests healthcare organizations can help alleviate employee burnout by:
- Acknowledging organizations play a role in burnout prevention and recovery;
- Establishing a culture that supports employee recovery and support;
- Educating employees on recovery and providing voluntary training;
- Providing adequate conditions to encourage recovery;
- Educating leaders to understand that people thrive when they know their company cares.
On the managerial level, Hamill says managers can support their direct reports by:
- Remembering people recover differently;
- Incorporating recovery moments for employees to restore resources;
- Setting recovery norms by role-modeling behaviors that encourage work-life integration;
- Setting holistic check-ins;
- Reminding people that it is not taboo to ask for help or admit they are struggling with stress and work overload.
Hamill says employers should remind caregivers who are feeling overwhelmed at work that they can use these recovery activities:
- Take short breaks. Even five minutes alone or a quick walk around the desk area can help one feel better equipped to deal with job stressors.
- Schedule recovery time on the calendar for a few minutes before or after important shift changes.
- Build rapport with the manager or a trustworthy colleague to foster open dialogue about job roles, responsibilities, and company culture. Putting a strong support system in place is vital.
- Laura Hamill, PhD, Chief People Officer, Chief Science Officer, Limeade, Bellevue, WA. Phone: (888) 830-9830.