The Crucial Role of DEI in Preventing Nurse Burnout

Burnout is not just a buzzword; it’s a profound, pervasive issue that can have devastating effects on individuals and institutions. In the healthcare sector, where life and death decisions are made daily, burnout isn’t just a personal challenge for employees; it’s a threat to the very core of patient care. 

The nursing profession, which is the backbone of healthcare, has been particularly hard-hit by this stress epidemic. The high-pressure environment, coupled with long hours and emotionally taxing work, puts nurses at an especially high risk of experiencing burnout.

The alarming stats

According to the American Association of Colleges of Nurses, the root cause of the heightened stress and dissatisfaction among nurses is insufficient staffing. Retention is key to the quality of patient care, and as the nursing shortage continues, it’s clear that addressing burnout is not just a matter of improving healthcare work environments; it’s a matter of life and death for patients and nurses alike.

In a 2023 Mental Health and Wellness Survey, over half of the nurses reported symptoms of burnout, while nearly two-thirds reported high stress levels. Additionally, a study published in JAMA found that 42% of Asian nurses reported complete or definite burnout, with an even higher percentage experiencing job harassment, unfair treatment, and a sense of invisibility at work.

The role DEI has in burnout prevention

Modern workplaces have adopted diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) policies to provide the same opportunities to individuals no matter their race, age, gender, sexual orientation, or other protected marginalized group under the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commision. DEI efforts help businesses build more diverse workforces that reflect the communities they serve. For groups that have been traditionally underrepresented in certain work spaces, these efforts support meaningful and intentional change while creating a stronger workforce.

With dedication to DEI, healthcare facilities are capable of providing their staff with an inclusive and more supportive environment that, in turn, helps them mitigate the daily stressors of their roles. By intentionally recruiting a diverse workforce and providing the support these employees need to succeed, facilities can help prevent burnout in their nursing staff.

Building a system of support

At the base of all DEI strategies is the need to create a workplace that supports its employees day in and day out. As a natural byproduct of DEI efforts, supportive environments are also a common preventative measure that healthcare facilities can use to impact the level of burnout their employees experience.

Here’s how DEI strategies can help to prevent nurse burnout:

Prioritize self care for employees

One of the most significant contributors to nurse burnout is the imbalance between work and personal life. Healthcare facilities, in a bid to manage their staff shortage, often rely on the superhuman efforts of their nurses. 

While the demand for patient care is constant, it’s crucial that nursing staff are granted the time to rest and recharge. Managers need to respect days off and, if absolutely necessary, minimize disturbances. Aside from prioritizing In any other industry, employees with protected statuses are protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 and accommodations can be made in the workplace — but in a demanding field like healthcare, that isn’t necessarily an option. 

Instead, facilities must make it a priority to support their employees in their day to day duties within reasonable accommodations. For instance, maybe you offer your staff a stipend for shoes they use specifically to work in since they’ll be on their feet all day. This ensures that all of your teammates have appropriate footwear while also encouraging them to take care of themselves. DEI is largely about equity, or equaling the playing field for all participants — and small steps like this go a long way in helping employees prioritize themselves and their well-being on and off the clock.

Reinforce mental health support

Just as heavily as physical health, mental health should be a priority in healthcare facilities. It’s no secret that exercise can significantly contribute to an individual’s overall well-being, but that’s only one strategy facilities should have in their DEI toolkit. 

Not all disabilities are visible. There are likely members of your team who are actively dealing with an invisible disability, most common of which are mental health disorders. As a member of the healthcare field, you’re also likely aware that these diagnoses typically have little to no impact on these individuals’ performance. But it’s also important to let your staff know that resources are available to them should they need it. 

Healthcare organizations should go beyond recommending exercise and actively support their nursing staff in prioritizing mental health through policies such as mental health days. When nurses know that taking a day off to nurture their mental well-being is not just permissible, but encouraged, an environment of trust and support is created that reinforces long term DEI efforts.

Sense of belonging

Belonging is an innate human need that becomes even more critical in environments laden with stress and emotion, such as healthcare. Feeling isolated in stressful situations, like chronically short staffed nursing facilities or patients rapidly declining, can have profound mental impacts that compound burnout symptoms. DEI efforts, however, keep healthcare staff connected with one another and can help mitigate any feelings of loneliness that employees may have.

Establishing a sense of belonging within the workplace and the wider nursing community can serve as a powerful buffer against burnout. This includes fostering relationships within the team and encouraging connections with the community at large. As we said earlier, DEI efforts help make sure that staff are representative of their local communities, especially in areas where underrepresented groups reside. Through social support systems, nurses can find solace and understanding, helping to alleviate the day-to-day stress of the profession.

Final thoughts

Preventing nurse burnout is about more than just being kind or generous. It’s about implementing systematic changes rooted in DEI principles that will not only alleviate the personal suffering of nurses but also lead to improved patient care and, ultimately, better health outcomes for all. By valuing the diversity of voices in the workplace, ensuring equity in terms of working conditions, and fostering an inclusive environment, healthcare facilities can create an atmosphere that supports and empowers nurses, reducing the risks of burnout and enhancing the quality of care provided. 

The future of healthcare is inextricably linked to the well-being of its nursing staff, and adopting DEI strategies is a critical step in securing a more sustainable, compassionate, and effective healthcare system for all. See how hiring a more diverse workforce can be made easier with Hireology platform by scheduling a demo today!



Get our hiring insights delivered right to your inbox

We think it’s uncool to send spam, so we promise we won't.

By subscribing you agree with the Terms and Privacy Policy