Employee burnout is one of the most troubling issues in all industries nowadays. The healthcare sector is no exception: most employees in the healthcare sector have experienced burnout at some point in their service. Perhaps among all types of professionals working in this sector, nurses are the most affected by burnout. Today's healthcare industry is challenging for everyone. Nurses, Doctors, and other healthcare employees are taking more responsibilities than ever. Nurses regularly have a huge workload and responsibilities. Their role has expanded over the past few years from the bedside to the waiting room even to the board room, while their stress has also increased.

A recent study found that 92% of nurses experience moderate to very high levels of burnout [1]. According to another study, almost half of the nurses under 30 (and 40% of those over 40) are burned out.The number of nurses suffering from burnout has increased over the years, resulting in negative effects on patient care, work environments, and staffing shortages. 

Infographics: How to reduce nursing burnout and what are the symptoms

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What Exactly is Nursing Burnout? 

​Nursing burnout is a physical, mental and emotional state caused by chronic overwork and a persistent lack of work performance and support. Common symptoms of burnout can include physical or emotional exhaustion, work-related cynicism, and a low sense of personal achievement. Untreated burnout, rather than improving on its own, can lead to clinical depression as untreated symptoms compound over time.

Symptoms of Nursing Burnout: What are the Warning Sign

​ It has already been established that nursing burnout is detrimental to both the nurse and the organization. Therefore, a healthcare leader should always be concerned about signs of burnout to prevent further damage.

1. If Nurses of your hospital are Always Tired

​Nurses often get tired. If someone works very hour shifts and often goes without sleep, then it is inevitable. There is, however, a difference between normal tiredness and absolute exhaustion. If you notice that nurses are struggling to wake up or they just don't seem to be "catching up" on sleep, then the nurses may be experiencing burnout.

2. ​Lack of Enthusiasm about Work

​ How to know if a nurse lacks enthusiasm about work? Well, just notice if they are arriving late at work regularly or Once she/he is at work, they only think about going home. If you find these things in anyone, he or she just might be burned out. This mindset can also become a potential danger since healthcare workers need to focus on their patients and be careful with procedures.

3. If they are Intolerance to Change

​ Changes can be difficult to manage, but all normal workers get used to it. When you find that a normal change in the workplace begins to affect the professional effectiveness of a nurse, he or she may be in a state of burnout.

4. If they feel overworked or under-appreciated

​Many nurses feel that their efforts go unnoticed and many feel overworked. This is one of the leading causes of nursing burnout and therefore it is also a key symptom. All health officials need to be aware of this condition. But how can they know if nurses feel like this? Simply, they should continually collect feedback from nurses.

​5. Compassion fatigue

Most nurses have a high degree of compassion and that is why they enter the profession. But after years of emotional stress, associated with fear, pain, and suffering, even the best nurses can suffer from compassion fatigue.

If a nurse in your hospital is detached from your patients, feel cynical about their work, they may be victims of compassion fatigue. It is a huge red flag for the burnout of nurses and requires immediate attention.

Strategies to prevent nursing burnout: What should a healthcare leader do? 

1. Reduce the workload of Nurses

Nurses are often overworked, and 12-hour shift isn't that uncommon in this profession. Plus, nursing is considered as nursing is a physically demanding job. A study shows, 93% of nurses feel mentally and/or physically tired at the end of a workday. The same study also reported that Ninety-eight percent of respondents claimed their work was physically and mentally demanding. In addition, 60% of respondents reported that they had far too many patients and tasks to handle at one time. The linkage between workload and burnout is well known and well established. So, if a healthcare leader wants to reduce or prevent nursing burnout at their organization, they must assign a fair amount of workload to the nurses. And how a healthcare leader can do that without hurting the finance?

Well, they should do the following things:

  • Try to introduce new technology to reduce the workload.
  • Hire more nurses and reduce the shift time.
  • Distribute tasks according to capabilities of nurses.
  • Reduce multitasking. 

2. Create a culture of appreciation

Lots of nurses feel under-appreciated at work, many of them are in fact under-appreciated. If a person does not get appreciated for their work, they suffer form lack of compassion fatigue, lack of enthusiasm etc. This may push them into the zone of burnout. So, a healthcare leader should try to create a culture of appreciation at work.

​ 3. Create Support Group

​One study [2] shows that support groups are helpful in reducing burnout among beginners. These groups are usually led by a registered nurse or a psychologist who is there to answer questions and clarify anything to members. The members of the support group can offer advice, help, and support to cope with nursing burnout.

4. Create a Space for Relaxation

​It has been shown that social support reduces the effects of stress and that senior leaders can help nurses make contacts by providing a meeting place. The break room can be more than just a place to share a sandwich, and managers should encourage staff to take breaks together to create a sense of community if possible.

5. Training and Education

​Provide continuing education and frequent training because there is less anxiety among nurses who feel competent in their jobs. Support and praise nurses attending non-obligatory educational events, attaining specialty certification and other forms of professional development.

Wambi is a healthcare employee quality management and recognition system, leveraging real-time patient feedback and visual analytics, that facilitates both positive reinforcements in the form of tangible rewards and real-time service recovery when there's negative feedback. Wambi developed a one of a kind solution which can help to reduce nurse turnover and nurse burnout. Click here to know more.