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Posted by Sarah Ramsey

  • Apr 3, 2024

Reinvigorating Purpose for Frontline Healthcare Professionals

Healthcare workers on the front lines face big challenges. Clinicians work hard to help patients every day, but many feel tired and stressed. Even four years into the COVID-19 pandemic, work for clinicians has only become that much harder.


How can administrators help frontline healthcare workers, clinicians, and your staff overall reinvigorate their purpose while preventing burnout and other stressors? We’re diving into this touchy subject below.


The Importance of Purpose in Healthcare Workforce Management

Why does purpose matter for your workforce? Simply put, when your clinicians and team members feel like their work has purpose, they feel like it has meaning. It’s critical they feel the work they do matters.


Purpose Boosts Clinician Satisfaction and Performance

Healthcare workers with purpose enjoy their jobs more. They feel motivated to go the extra mile at work. Purpose helps staff provide compassionate care. It improves patient outcomes too. Workers who feel their role matters perform better.


Purpose Increases Retention and Engagement

Feeling purpose at work makes team members want to stick around, and it improves the company’s culture as well. Turnover costs healthcare organizations a lot of money, time and resources. High retention on the other hand saves money and maintains the expertise of your workforce.


Purpose also boosts engagement. Engaged staff care about doing excellent work. They collaborate better as a team. Shared purpose unifies healthcare workers overall.


Bottom line - Purpose increases retention, engagement, and overall workforce optimization - enabling efficient onboarding, decreased time to fill openings, optimized schedules with no uncovered shifts, high clinician satisfaction, adherence to budgets, and a positive culture promoting loyalty.


Obstacles Facing Frontline Healthcare WorkersObstacles-Facing-Frontline-Healthcare-Workers-Internal-Image-25-March-2024

Frontline healthcare workers confront many difficulties in their roles. Understanding these challenges is key to better support them. Main issues include things like:

  • Burnout
  • Emotional distress, and
  • External stressors.

Burnout and Stress are Widespread

Excessive workload and stress are top struggles for frontline staff. Heavy demands lead to mental and physical exhaustion. Burnout harms work quality and patient care. It also increases risks of illness, absenteeism, and turnover.


Emotional Toll on Clinicians

There’s no way to sugar coat the fact that caring for patients takes an emotional toll. Seeing traumatic events like health crises or even patient deaths is hard. Compassion fatigue and moral distress are common. Workers need tools to process these experiences.


External Factors Create Even More Stress

Outside events add more pressure on top of an already demanding job. For example, the COVID-19 pandemic greatly increased risk of exposure and workload for frontline healthcare professionals. Add to that things like staff shortages and policy changes - and you have a recipe for anxiety disaster.


Recognizing the Warning Signs of Waning Purpose

While initiatives to reinvigorate purpose are proactive, it's also crucial for your organization to internally identify the telling symptoms when your frontline staff's level of purpose and engagement is declining. Looking out for these red flags can spur timely action within your organization to address waning purpose before it severely impacts staffing and care quality. This highlights the need to adopt a RosterOps approach that aligns all roles and workflows around delivering exceptional patient care through an engaged workforce.


Burnout Symptoms

Emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, and feelings of low personal accomplishment are classic signs of burnout. An overly stressed, depleted workforce is often disconnected from their sense of purpose and the meaning behind their work.


High Turnover and Intent to Leave

Frequent job departures and retention issues may signal employees feel unfulfilled by their roles. Lack of purpose is a common driver behind staff looking to leave for seemingly greener pastures.


Disengagement and Absenteeism

Purposeful staff tend to be highly motivated and engaged. A rise in absenteeism, poor productivity, and disengagement from teams or initiatives can reflect diminishing purpose.


Low Job Satisfaction

Periodic job satisfaction surveys can reveal whether your workforce feels their work is meaningful and împactful. Declining satisfaction scores suggest purpose is waning.


De-prioritization of Well-Being

As purpose fades, clinicians may start neglecting self-care practices that prevent burnout. Dropping usage of wellness resources like counseling is a potential red flag.


Staying attuned to these warning signs enables your organization to catch and address purpose issues early before they severely impact staff or patient care quality. Proactive monitoring allows for well-timed interventions to re-engage your healthcare workforce.


Ideas to Reinvigorate Purpose for Frontline Healthcare Workers

To renew meaning and engagement for frontline staff, organizations should look inward at internal initiatives they can implement. Even small steps taken within your organization can make a big difference in reigniting your workforce's sense of purpose. Here are some impactful approaches your internal teams may want to consider:


Recognize and Celebrate Achievements

Praise good work frequently. Celebrate team and individual accomplishments. Recognition reinforces purpose and boosts morale. Recognizing and celebrating your team members can often encourage them to reconnect with their initial motivations for joining the healthcare field.


Offer Development Opportunities

Invest in professional growth through training, conferences, and tuition support. Development helps staff gain new skills and advance their careers. You may also want to:


- Offer volunteer opportunities for committees/initiatives that reignite passion

- Offer performance coaching for team members to request if they choose to

- Discuss opportunities for shift changes or role adjustments with team members when necessary.


Start Mentorship and Support Programs

Offer mentors who can help remind team members of their professional mission, and/or pair new hires with experienced mentors. Create peer support groups for staff to share experiences. Provide counseling services. This fosters purpose and resilience.


Additional Ways to Reinvigorate Purpose

A few additional ideas to consider implementing to assist frontline healthcare staffing teams include, but aren’t limited to:


- Offering counseling services or peer support groups to process stress/trauma

- Recommending self-care activities like exercise, mindfulness, etc. during off-hours (Creating schedules for team members to take breaks may also be beneficial)

- Encouraging team members to speak up about excessive workload contributing to burnout

- Having open conversations with team members about factors that might lead to turnover

- Suggesting team members build a self-care plan and obtain leadership's support in following it.


Leverage Technology to Support Purpose-Driven WorkLeverage-Technology-to-Support-Purpose-Driven-Work-Internal-Image-25-March-2024

Smart use of technology can free up time and energy for purposeful patient care. It also provides data to improve quality.


Streamline Tasks with Workforce Management Software

Administrative burdens divert focus from patients. Introduce automated systems for scheduling, time tracking, and coordination. This simplifies operations.


Collect Data for Insights

Collect and analyze data for a holistic health system analysis that encompasses staffing, access, patient experience, clinical decisions, outcomes, costs, and more. Use these insights to guide operational decisions that advance your organization's overarching purpose of delivering quality patient care.


Expand Telehealth and Remote Monitoring

Telehealth increases access for patients and provides flexibility for staff. Remote monitoring tech enables care from afar. This expands reach while focusing on purpose.


Foster a Purposeful Culture Through the RosterOps Approach

Organizational culture has a profound impact on staff engagement, collaboration and ultimately purpose. The RosterOps framework facilitates a cohesive, purpose-driven culture for your healthcare workforce.


Promote Cross-Functional Alignment

RosterOps breaks down functional silos between recruitment, credentialing, operations, finance schedulers, site coordinators and leadership teams. Aligning roles, goals and workflows, gives all departments the ability to unite around the shared purpose of efficiently deploying quality clinical care teams. This cross-functional data-driven collaboration fosters an environment of trust and accountability.


Optimize Processes with Enabling Technology

Leverage a robust workforce relationship management (WRM) platform built specifically for healthcare. Automating administrative tasks and integrating data streams allow staff to focus their energy on meaningful work. It can also help prevent clinician and staff burnout through tech-enabled efficiencies. Actionable insights surface optimization opportunities to streamline caregiver deployment.


Enhance Clinician Experiences

End-to-end workforce management supported by the RosterOps model provides a seamless clinician journey - from initial interaction through onboarding, scheduling and payment processes. This unified approach improves clinician satisfaction, loyalty and ultimately retention of an engaged workforce.


Cultivate Continuous Improvement

The RosterOps approach utilizes defined KPIs and performance monitoring to identify improvement areas across the clinician lifecycle. Standardized yet adaptable processes enable your organization to iteratively refine operations as needs evolve, maintaining an agile, purpose-centered culture.


The implementation of the RosterOps framework alone helps staffing teams and other departments tear down obstructive boundaries and inefficiencies. This collaborative model instead builds a resilient culture focused on the true purpose - delivering quality patient care through an empowered, passionate workforce.


Click here to learn more about the RosterOps approach.


Moving Forward Despite Obstacles

Implementing major changes has potential pitfalls. Be ready to navigate barriers that arise. Stay focused on driving meaningful progress.


Manage Resistance Carefully

Some team members may resist anything that moves away from the status quo. Listen to concerns and communicate benefits. Involve staff in designing initiatives.


Work With Limited Resources

Reinvigorating purpose doesn't require massive budgets. Get creative with lower-cost initiatives like peer support groups, recognition programs, and continuously realigning your clinical capacity to evolving community needs. Look for opportunities to reduce costs while still investing in approaches that renew your staff's sense of meaning and engagement. Partner with local community organizations as well to maximize resources.


Make Progress Step-By-Step

View efforts as a continuous journey, not a single project. Build on early successes. Regularly re-evaluate and improve approaches to sustain engagement.


With realistic plans and perseverance, purpose-driven transformation is achievable. Recognize challenges but don't let them halt momentum. The reward of revitalized, fulfilled healthcare teams is worth overcoming hurdles.


The Time for Purposeful Healthcare is Now

Rediscovering professional purpose is not just a “nice-to-have” element for healthcare teams- it's a necessity for providing quality patient care and retaining an engaged workforce. Frontline healthcare staffing challenges that are faced daily and exacerbated by crises like the pandemic, have pushed many to the brink of burnout and disillusionment. Failing to take decisive action puts your most valuable resource - your people - at risk of depleting further.


Don't wait until the warning signs turn into a crisis impacting your staffing levels, outcomes, and bottom line. Implement approaches today that reconnect employees to the profound why behind their work. Invest in mentorship, professional development, supportive technology, and a true culture of caring about caregiver well-being. Most importantly, adopt the RosterOps model of cross-functional collaboration enabling workflow governance and care optimization that aligns every role around the singular purpose of delivering exceptional care.


Helping renew your team's sense of purpose might not be easy, but the impact and rewards will be worth it. Investing in a robust WRM platform ensures teams have the necessary data for their next new start, schedule or payroll run. Schedule a demo of Kimedics today!

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