The Hidden Healthcare Retention Killer: Compassion Fatigue

Their joints ache, their moods are sour, and your facility is bearing the brunt of it all. 

No, we’re not talking about your patients here — it’s your employees we’re concerned about. 

More and more healthcare workers are struggling with a condition known as compassion fatigue. While this is similar to burnout, it is actually a result from working hard to make sure their patients are cared for to the best of their abilities. Workers who develop compassion fatigue become desensitized to their patients, losing the compassion and caring aspect of nursing that is needed to make patients completely comfortable.

Read on to learn more about compassion fatigue and what you can do to prevent it from spreading at your facility.

What is compassion fatigue?

Compassion fatigue refers to the variety of symptoms that healthcare workers experience when job-related stress accumulates, according to CNAPrograms. These symptoms can include, but are not limited to, physical exhaustion, depression, loss of self-confidence, hopelessness, and more.

How post-acute care facilities can reduce compassion fatigue

Now that you’re familiar with the physical and emotional effects of compassion fatigue, it’s time to consider the ways your facility can prevent this from impacting your employees and how you can help those who may already be in the throes of this condition.

Let employees pick their shifts

Given the current state of the industry, it can feel like healthcare workers are always on call or needed back at the facility to cover for someone who is out. This unpredictability can lead to difficulty managing life outside of work, which can wear down even the most optimistic employee. You can avoid this by allowing employees to pick their shifts so they know what days they’ll have off and can plan their life around work. This small act will empower your employees to feel in control of some aspect of their work life and can help prevent burn out if you can avoid calling them in when you’re short staffed. 

Give additional time off

Despite having limited staff, it’s important that you offer more time off to your workers to avoid them developing compassion fatigue. You can do this in a couple of different ways. You could implement Mental Health Days, where employees can request one day off a month with pay to tend to their mental health needs. This day should be requested in advance, so you can plan for a replacement to fill their role for the day. You could also simply offer more PTO or vacation time for your workers to use to recuperate from the mental and physical stress from working at your facility. 

Tell them how much they’re appreciated

A little appreciation can go a long way — and in this case, could be exactly what your employees need to avoid becoming indifferent to their wards. Take the time to make sure you tell your team how much you appreciate them, or simply thank them for the hard work they do taking care of their patients. It’s a hard job, no one is denying that. You could take this a step further by giving your team little tokens of appreciation, like a card when you see them going above and beyond to care for their patients or keeping snacks readily available for your team. You could even use this strategy to reduce their overall stress by providing lunch once a week from an outside vendor or having additional meals made for them from the cafeteria. 

Encourage self-care on and off the clock

Self-care doesn’t always mean bubble baths and face masks. In fact, it’s important to practice self-care throughout the day with small moments of mindfulness to reduce overall stress levels. You should encourage your team to remember to take deep breaths and breaks when they’re becoming overwhelmed. In order to encourage self-care on and off the clock, you should share ways that your employees can be more mindful throughout the day. This could look like sharing calming breathing exercises or stretches that recenter themselves in their body. If you’re especially ambitious, you could look at the cost of partnering with a self-care app to provide your workers with a self-care coach in the palm of their hands when they need it.

Add more people to your team

Adding more people to your staff is, of course, easier said than done. But the truth is that the more people you have at your facility, the more time gets spent with your patients and the better the caretakers get to know them. This cycle helps avoid compassion fatigue by letting your healthcare workers develop vested interest in the people they’re caring for, which can help them avoid becoming numb or desensitized to the realities of their work.

Are you ready to combat compassion fatigue at your facility?

Compassion fatigue is, unfortunately, an all too common condition plaguing caretakers everywhere. There’s no one clear antidote, but caring for the physical and emotional well-being of your employees is a great way to start. Ultimately, the best way to combat compassion fatigue is by hiring more caregivers. To see how you can hire better healthcare talent faster, schedule a 1:1 demo with Hireology today!



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