Reduce Healthcare Burnout with People-First Staffing Strategies

Reduce Healthcare Burnout with People-First Staffing Strategies

Focusing on the employee experience will help you retain top talent in the long run

In the U.S. healthcare industry, there were staffing shortage issues before the COVID-19 pandemic hit. Now, the issue is endemic. 

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, since February 2020, employment in the healthcare workforce is down by more than 500,000 jobs with 80% of those losses in nursing and residential care facilities. With increased demand and an aging population, there are no signs that these problematic trends are slowing down.

Fast, effective solutions are needed to build back to healthy workforce levels—for both the viability of the health systems and the patients who expect to receive expert care.

Shifting to people-focused staffing solutions can help reverse today’s attrition trend.

People solutions for addressing the root cause

Levels of burnout among healthcare workers has increased from 30 to 50% pre-pandemic, to 40 to 70% currently—a new critical level that is prompting healthcare organizations to shift into prevention mode. 

According to AHRQ (Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality), staffing retention issues related to burnout syndrome are the result of time pressure, the chaotic state of the clinical work environment, limited-to-low control of pace, and unfavorable company culture. Additionally, technology and tools used on the job, such as electronic health record systems, are contributing to decreased job satisfaction and increased attrition. These systems are often outdated and time-consuming, taking healthcare workers away from what they enjoy—caring for people. 

Moving forward, reimagining the employee experience will help organizations get ahead of the problem while keeping our clinical superheroes feeling listened to and satisfied.

Below are people-focused considerations to keep in mind, as you begin developing and implementing strategies to decrease job burnout, retain employees, and create happier, more engaged teams.

Increase leadership involvement and visibility

— Be transparent; name burnout as a recognized organizational and systemic issue.

— Conduct regular check-ins and focus on things that ‘fill you and your team up’, such as leveraging flexible work options.

— Open the lines of communication with frontline workers to create ways to increase their engagement; allow one-on-one discussions and surveys to gather information and implement the necessary changes while making sure they align with your organization’s core values.

Incentivize with intentional and thoughtful policy strategies

— Look at the existing salary models at the organization; most healthcare organizations are still using a financial/productivity-based model, but this often leads to overwork and limits time spent per patient.

— Instead, focus on promoting a healthy work-life balance and incorporate flexible schedules. 

— Set realistic expectations within your team for what and how much workers can take on.

Rethink existing responsibilities and workflows

— Identify areas that do not require a clinical background and upskill administrative team members to take the workload off clinical staff’s plates.

— Improve employee productivity by offboarding time-consuming, repetitive administrative tasks to a bot by implementing Robotic Process Automation (RPA), a business process automation technology. This will free up more time to spend with patients and create a more positive employee experience.

— Actively engage clinicians during the hiring and interview process to grow as a top-tier talent draw.


By adopting people-first strategies, health systems can stop the cycle of employee burnout, retain top talent, and ultimately improve patient care. In an industry where employees give so much to others, it’s paramount for health care systems to invest in their staff’s well-being and mental health.

RELATED CONTENTThe Latest Secret Weapon For Battling Burnout

Propeller’s Experience Design practice supports clients with employee engagement strategies across industries and organizations. Reach out to us for support.

Contact Us