Understanding the Link Between Healthcare Employee Turnover and Mental Health

Blog / Understanding the Link Between Healthcare Employee Turnover and Mental Health

Plus: 3 Things Employers can do to improve employees’ mental health

The mental well-being of your healthcare employees can have a huge impact on your organization.

In fact, poor personal well-being among your employees can be extremely costly for your organization. Poor mental health among healthcare employees not only leads to costly mistakes and lower standards of care, but it can also lead to higher turnover.

But it’s not just about your bottom line or the patients that walk through your door (as important as they are).

It’s also about the people that work for you. Employees want to know that they are more than just a warm body executing a task day in and day out. They want to know that you support them and their personal well-being.

Employers need to talk about employee care.

And we aren’t talking about some trendy new perk or benefit that you introduced recently. No, we are actually talking about the workplace environment, or culture.

Academic studies have found that top causes of attrition included poor relationship with supervisors, poor team morale, lack of tangible rewards, lack of personal growth opportunities and a lack of autonomy. All of these issues link back to poor emotional well-being among employees.

So part of that better work environment is about providing support for your employees. When you ask more of them or push them harder, they will need additional support to maintain their personal well-being and their levels of performance and mental acuity.

But it’s also about creating a workplace culture that values people over profits; a workplace that values diversity, inclusivity, and actively works against toxicity in the office.

Here is what employers can do about high turnover due to poor mental health among healthcare employees.

1 | Top Down Approach

Office or workplace culture plays a pivotal role in employee well-being. What is workplace culture? It is the summation of shared values, characteristics and behaviors of a company and its employees. It includes aspects such as company values, ethics, expectations, leadership style and the working environment itself. There are two sides of company culture–the outward facing culture, or what the company presents to the public, and the actual culture, or the way that the people in the organization actually act and treat one another.

Strong company culture is the result of a top down approach and routine reinforcement. Company leadership can’t just talk the talk, but walk the walk. They need to work to eliminate toxicity in the workplace and show employees that they actually care about them. They also need to constantly remind employees what that culture and shared goals are through constant reinforcement, creating engaged employees.

For a deeper dive on how to create a positive culture in the workplace, check out this article.

2 | I Saw the Sign

Burnout happens when employees are highly engaged but just don’t get the support they need to maintain their personal well-being. Burnout can lead to sleep problems, anxiety, depression, disinterest in socializing and an increased use in substance use.

It’s key for employers, supervisors and employees to learn to recognize the signs of burnout. Symptoms include:

  • Fatigue
  • Irritability
  • Loss of motivation
  • Cynicism
  • Withdrawing from responsibilities
  • Isolation
  • Procrastination
  • Taking frustrations out on others
  • Absenteeism

Identifying burnout is half the battle. When a supervisor notices that an employee is experiencing burnout, they need to reach out and ask the employee what they need to help them. It could be sharing the burden of work or allowing the employee to take some time off. The HR department should also be trained to spot the signs and to create a safe environment for employees to talk about their burnout and to get resources to help them recover. A good example of a resource are those for family caregivers, i.e. your employees who work and care for a sick family member–which can cause a lot of burnout and stress in their work and personal life.

3 | The Deep End

Finally, cultivating deeper relationships between supervisors and staff can help immensely. Not only will supervisors get to know their employees better and more quickly spot the signs of burnout, but it also creates a higher level of trust between the employee and their supervisor. When there is more trust, employees will feel safer coming to their supervisor with concerns about their personal well-being.

When we show that we truly care about our employees as people, you see a higher level of well-being among your healthcare employees. This leads to better patient outcomes, higher levels of job satisfaction, lower turnover, higher levels of job performance and overall personal happiness. When we care about the mental health of our healthcare workers, everyone benefits!