Nurses in assisted living, long-term care facilities, and hospital systems face many challenges. As providers working with sick, injured, or disabled residents, nurses put much of their energy and dedication into supporting their patients—which can be demanding. These demands can make your nursing staff feel depleted and lead to burnout, among other negative impacts. With the rising concern of mental health issues for healthcare workers, it's critical to take precautions to minimize caregiver strain and focus on the well-being of everyone in your facility.
When you know what signs to look for, you can take proactive measures and implement new tools to help your nursing staff in their daily tasks and promote positive company culture. Preventing nurse burnout is essential for the overall health of your residents, staff, and facility. Keep reading to learn about the issues many healthcare workers face and how to reduce burnout in nursing and caregiving.
What Is Nurse Burnout?
Nurse or caregiver burnout refers to the overwhelming physical and emotional exhaustion of healthcare workers who provide support and treatment for long-term care patients, residents, and patients within hospital and healthcare systems. The healthcare industry can be highly stressful, especially during staff and supply shortages. These issues can lead caregivers to lose their passion for their job and even develop resentment. Nurse burnout is often caused by increased workloads, physical demands, lack of personal and financial support, and outdated technology that makes it difficult to do their job.
Google Trends shows an increasing rate of concern for nurse burnout, with searches for the term hitting their highest point ever in March of this year.
While burnout is highly present in the healthcare industry as a whole, long-term positions in emotionally demanding situations can take their toll on your staff. As nurses juggle caring for patients, taking care of their personal lives, and supporting other staff members, it's no surprise that many become unhappy in their careers. Research shows that, as of 2021, at least 37% of nurses considered leaving their profession due to burnout and stress. Symptoms of caregiver burnout include:
- Fatigue and sleeping problems.
- Lack of energy.
- Increased symptoms of depression or anxiety.
- Withdrawal from usual activities.
- Difficulty coping with sadness and stress.
- Feeling hopeless.
- Unintended weight gain or loss.
- Mood swings.
While nurse burnout can refer to a general feeling of high stress and emotional drain, there are different stages of burnout your nursing staff can experience. The stages of burnout become more severe over time, including:
- Stress: The first stage of burnout can come from general frustration, irritability, or sadness by feeling undervalued or not receiving any gratitude from patients, leadership, or colleagues. Regardless of what causes the stress, it usually becomes worse if not addressed.
- Burnout: Prolonged stress from constantly caring for others can create burnout. At this stage, nurses often feel overworked and lack the motivation to care for their mental health properly.
- Compassion fatigue: The final stage of burnout is when nurses are in a state of despair and begin to lack empathy for their patients. Nurses will often feel disconnected after prolonged periods of tension and exposure to difficult situations, such as death and other trauma.
The Rise of Mental Health Concerns for Healthcare Workers
In addition to burnout, healthcare workers face many other mental health problems. Those who suffer from burnout are more likely to develop other mental health conditions, such as anxiety and depression. Over the last few years of the COVID-19 pandemic, it's easy to see how nursing staff may become overwhelmed due to staffing shortages, lack of adequate compensation, and emotional tolls.
One survey found that 93% of healthcare workers reported experiencing stress, 86% experienced anxiety, 76% reported burnout and exhaustion, and 75% reported feeling overwhelmed due to the fear and uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic. This same study reported that over half of all respondents felt they were experiencing compassion fatigue, while 45% of nurses felt they were not getting the emotional support they needed.
With such high numbers of mental health concerns, it's worth discussing why healthcare workers are more likely to experience these problems due to their working conditions than in other careers. Even before the pandemic, working in healthcare has always involved:
- Unpredictable work life and financial strain.
- Demanding emotional and physical work from patient handling.
- Exposure to constant pain, illness, injury, and death.
- Long hours of work of unpredictable intensity.
- Risk of hazardous exposures from disease.
- Putting the well-being of others before oneself.
Combating nurse burnout begins with reducing workforce shortages, faster access to pay, and advanced technology to make administrative tasks more manageable. For instance, nurses and other healthcare workers spend more time on documentation activities than patient care activities, which can lead to many issues in your long-term care facility. As your nursing staff spends more time taking notes, charting, checking their schedules, or trying to access their payroll, they spend less time delivering quality care to residents.
The Benefits of Automation Technology on Burnout
While there are many solutions to alleviate nursing staff burnout and stress, implementing automation technology can, directly and indirectly, create a better environment. Nurse management software provides you and other managers, schedule makers, or administrative staff with features and tools to conduct many different tasks in a single, easy-to-use platform. Here are some ways automation technology can reduce burnout and make life easier for your nursing staff:
While caring for patients, nurses are constantly interrupted by a number of competing needs within their facilities. With a robust workforce management system like SmartLinx, you can reduce the administrative burden on nurses and ease their burnout with a suite of products that help you and your employees make better decisions.
Juggling multiple systems and manual processes daily can be a hassle. Simplifying attendance, payroll, and other basic tasks with fewer clicks and faster processing frees up time and allows your staff to coordinate more effectively. When nurses have the tools to easily collaborate with colleagues and do their job more efficiently, it can reduce their exhaustion at the end of their shifts and help them feel supported and motivated to care for their patients.
Improve Communication and Employee Scheduling
Optimizing nursing scheduling and streamlining communications can also lighten the load on your nursing staff. Inefficient scheduling can create issues in your workflow and cause frustration among your employees. With automation technology, you can generate smart schedules that adapt to changes in real-time, such as rotations, replacements, and unexpected call-outs or extended leave.
Mobile access allows your staff to instantly view changes, request additional shifts, and confirm replacements through notifications and text messages. Nurse management software from SmartLinx keeps all staff and leadership communication in one place with user-friendly menus, making it easy to keep your organization running smoothly and remain fully staffed.
Streamline Human Resource and Workforce Management Processes
Creating a better employee experience starts with improving your HRM and workforce management procedures. Identifying gaps in your current systems and finding ways to enhance your processes is key to relieving nursing staff of frustrating, tedious tasks, such as trying to check their payroll or request a day off. Your HR department should focus more on people, not paperwork. From approving PTO to regulatory reports to hiring and onboarding new staff, it's important that you can rely on technology that does the hard work for you.
With SmartLinx solutions, you can make it effortless to track applicants, reduce scheduling conflicts, engage your employees, and fix common issues from any location. The more you can do for your nursing staff—and the more control they have over their careers—the more satisfied they will be.
Reducing stress on your nursing staff can make them happier and allow them to spread that engagement to your residents. With a thorough workforce management process, you can also improve your bottom line, boost productivity, enhance company morale, and prioritize mental health.
Alleviate Nurse Fatigue and Burnout With SmartLinx
Preventing burnout in healthcare is critical to the mental health and well-being of your staff and residents. With SmartLinx, you can give your nurses more control and flexibility over their schedule, let them access same-day pay, and communicate with them quickly and efficiently.
Instead of spending hours of their day dealing with inadequate, unreliable technology or multiple disparate systems, your staff can focus on delivering quality care to their patients. Schedule a demo with us today, or contact us to learn more about how our services and solutions can help your nursing staff.