American Association for Physician Leadership


Three Ways to Prevent Your Team from Burning Out

Harvard Business Review

February 14, 2019


Read about Deloitte's survey on workplace burnout and get ideas for physician leaders and other professionals to prevent it.

Physician leaders, you’re not alone. Other professionals are exhausted, too. But the stress doesn’t have to be pervasive; organizations should play a more active role in prevention.

No organization wants to burn out its employees. And yet companies’ efforts to prevent prolonged stress among their staffs are falling short.

When Deloitte recently surveyed 1,000 full-time employees in the United States, they found that 77 percent had experienced burnout at their current jobs, and more than half said they’d felt it more than once. Also, 87 percent said they have passion for their job, but 64 percent were frequently stressed, “dispelling the myth that passionate employees are immune to stress or burnout.”

According to the survey, nearly 70 percent of professionals said their employers were not doing enough to prevent or alleviate burnout within their organization.

What more can organizations do? Here are a few potentially powerful interventions:

1. Encourage real weekends and holidays: Burnout happens when people aren’t given enough time to disconnect, rest, focus on other aspects of life and recharge. In the Deloitte survey, nearly 30 percent of the respondents said they “consistently work long hours on weekends” and 43 percent used all of their vacation days. In addition, 30 percent experienced “unrealistic deadlines or results expectations.”

It’s important for leaders to create an environment where taking time off is not only allowed but championed.

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2. Expand wellness programs and benefits: Family leave, “flexible work options” or employee assistance programs are a good start, but there are many more ways a company can help its workforce thrive, from office health and wellness programs to paid time off for “mental health.” The survey found that 66 percent of professionals skipped at least one meal a day because they were too busy or stressed at work. Forty-two percent worried that issues would arise if they were away from work.

It’s important to have the programs in place, so when employees do begin to feel challenged, they have options for resources to turn to.

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3. Create a culture of recognition: In the survey, 30 percent of respondents said lack of support or recognition from leadership contributed greatly to fueling burnout. One way to fix that?

By encouraging people to simply say “thank you” when reports, colleagues and even bosses do their jobs well.

Copyright 2018 Harvard Business School Publishing Corp. Distributed by The New York Times Syndicate.

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The American Association for Physician Leadership has helped physicians develop their leadership skills through education, career development, thought leadership and community building.

The American Association for Physician Leadership (AAPL) changed its name from the American College of Physician Executives (ACPE) in 2014. We may have changed our name, but we are the same organization that has been serving physician leaders since 1975.


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