Public Health Emergency - Leading a Nation Prepared
Within healthcare settings during COVID-19, staff have experienced increased adverse stress conditions, which have led to increased absenteeism and turnover, lower morale, and decreased productivity. This resource highlights workforce challenges that have emerged during COVID-19 and provides concrete practical approaches that hospital management and executives have utilized during COVID surges to support and retain their workforce. This resource provide common practices that can inform hospital management and executives in workforce retention and resilience strategies.
Stress associated with the COVID-19 pandemic has affected everyone, but the responses to stress have varied. An MMWR survey report in July 2021 found that 53% of the 26,174 public health workers reported symptoms of at least one mental health condition in the last two weeks, such as depression (32%), anxiety (30.3%), PTSD (36.8%), or suicidal ideation (8.4%).i These adverse stress conditions have been linked to an increase in absenteeism, increased turnover, lower morale and decreased productivity.
In healthcare settings, staff have experienced serious distress due, in part, to increased workforce responsibilities, grief related to COVID deaths, depression and anxiety regarding the impacts of COVID, and fear of contracting and/or spreading the virus. These stressors have led to higher staff turnover, new and/or exacerbated organizational/administrative issues (some new and/or exacerbated by COVID), and unaddressed industry and/or social issues (e.g., lack of sufficient and affordable childcare).
Hospital executives are uniquely qualified to support, model, and build a culture of workforce wellbeing and goodwill as a mechanism for promoting workforce retention and resilience. This resource highlights workforce challenges that emerged during COVID-19 and concrete practical approaches that hospital management and executives have utilized during COVID surges to support and retain their workforce.
Common Workforce Challenges:
Note: These are not prescriptive solutions, rather shared common practices by healthcare organizations that have shown positive outcomes in their effort of supporting the workforce.
Provide messaging to staff that at any time if any of their distress symptoms are bothering them or seemingly out of control, that it is ok to seek treatment-destigmatize the concept that there is something wrong with them if they do and instead, suggest it is a good self-care action. Short term Cognitive Behavioral treatment is a best practice that can reduce symptoms in a focused, directed, limited number of sessions in person or via telemedicine.
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