In my blog post, Do You Act or React?, I discussed ways stress impacts behavior, how contagious it is, and how it impacts our well-being. Now we’re going to look deeper into how stress impacts engagement and performance in the workplace.
Who’s the most stressed industry?
Physicians, nurses, and allied health professionals stand in the front line of providing some of the most necessary services. However, their efficacy in doing so may be blocked by stress caused by growing demands from patients and families, cost containment pressures, organizational changes, and increasingly complex industry changes and demands.
In a 2005 report, the healthcare sector was ranked as one of the industries with the highest prevalence of stress. Things haven’t changed much. A 2014 nationwide poll again ranked healthcare as the most stressed industry. In fact, 17% of healthcare workers described themselves as “highly stressed.”
These statistics support the kind of environment where a healthcare worker may experience more absenteeism, presenteeism, and staff turnover, which can lead to suboptimal patient care, engagement, and satisfaction.
Jason Lovelace, president of CareerBuilder Healthcare, said it right: “Stress is part of the environment in many healthcare settings, but high levels sustained over a long period of time can be a major detriment to employee health and ultimately stand in their way of providing quality care to patients.”
A 2006 theoretical model of professional nursing environments found that patient safety outcomes were related to the quality of the nursing practice environment. Further, a 2012 survey found that high stress levels in nurses were related to lower overall health-promoting behavior scores. Even a 30% reduction in burnout at hospitals translates to 6,239 fewer infections and costs savings of $68 million, according to a 2012 report.
Achieving an engaged and high-performing healthcare sector through coaching
To create an engaged, high-performing workforce that fosters empathetic and patient-centered healthcare, we have to implement interventions in both the work environment and the individual.
In coaching, the core competencies are designed to help healthcare professionals and organizations combat the stress epidemic. For one, coaching helps lower the catabolic or negative energy generated by a stress reaction. Lowering catabolic energy leads to higher engagement, empathy, productivity, and focus. Embedding coach-centric strategies to improve a healthcare practitioner’s personal life can have a positive impact in how you engage with patients and their families.
Iowa Chronic Care Consortium reported survey responses from 164 trained healthcare coaches to gain an overall picture of their coaching program’s success. The majority of respondents agreed that coaching improved communication issues within the care team, promoted greater recognition for patient-centered care, and increased patient satisfaction. More specifically, 88% reported being “better able to engage the patient, focus, and guide” the conversation surrounding changing behaviors. Another 67% reported that their personal job satisfaction and effectiveness had increased.
There is a tendency in today’s world to just accept being stressed. But, in the healthcare sector, it’s not just about you; it’s about the patients too. Sustainable change is most likely when you take small steps consistently over time.
What one step or strategy can you implement for the coming week that would reduce your stress in one area of your life?