HealthcareHealthcare Workers Are Unhappy, What Are We Doing About It?

In what may come as little surprise to anyone paying attention in the past few years, healthcare workers are not very happy in their jobs. They join other workers who are part of what some call the “Great Gloom,” an overwhelming decrease in employee happiness and satisfaction with their positions that has permeated the working world on the heels of the Great Resignation.

According to a series of polls conducted by BambooHR and Gallup, overall job satisfaction has dropped by 8% since 2019.

Healthcare workers seem to be particularly unhappy in their roles. It’s such an issue, that it is one of six priorities being addressed by US Surgeon General, Vivek Murthy. The same institution warning us about the dangers of smoking is now telling us that healthcare worker dissatisfaction is a concern. There are plenty of reasons that have led to this level of dissatisfaction among medical workers, but how employers and leaders in the medical field address it will take innovation and thinking outside the box.

Tapping into why workers are unhappy

Scott Johnson, Founder and CEO of Motivosity, has focused much of his career around helping people find happiness at work — and helping employers motivate their employees with the power of appreciation. Johnson formed his company around the idea that showing appreciation for employees can help turn the tides of the Great Gloom and help employees feel more satisfied with their jobs.

“People spend too much time at work every day to be unhappy,” Johnson says, “but we know that most people just aren’t thrilled about being at work. They’re not happy about the work they’re doing and they aren’t happy with their bosses.”

According to a 2023 survey, healthcare workers ranked dead last in workplace satisfaction. Within the survey, just 61% of healthcare workers reported plans to stay in their current positions. They’re unhappy because of less-than-ideal pay, long hours, and lack of work/balance to name just a few reasons.

Healthcare facilities often face rampant understaffing, which comes at the emotional expense of healthcare workers who have to make up the difference. They are forced to work long hours and to take overtime shifts, leading to an unhealthy work/life balance.

Some healthcare workers may also feel they are not given opportunities for advancement or continued education. They feel blocked by leadership who may not want to upgrade technology or approaches. Working within healthcare, though fulfilling, can also come with the emotional burden that many caretakers experience.

None of those items are necessarily easy (or quick) to fix across the healthcare industry, but one of the primary reasons why healthcare workers feel unhappy in their positions is feeling unappreciated at work. Long hours, a global pandemic, and a lack of support add up, making even small tokens of appreciation all the more important in helping employees feel better about getting up and going to work.

Employee satisfaction metrics and approaches

Through analysis of company eNPS (Employee Net Promoter Scores), employers can understand how their staff feel about the workplace — including if their employees would recommend their workplace to others. When companies understand their eNPS, they have better insights into employee engagement, loyalty, and overall satisfaction. More importantly, it can help you identify issues that need your attention. As you track the changes in your eNPS — particularly if you’re able to filter by department, manager, or location — you’ll have a clearer understanding of what initiatives are working and what else you need to do to move the employee satisfaction needle.

For Johnson, data-driven approaches to measuring happiness at work can help employers expedite initiatives that will actually have an impact. With Motivosity, he feels his team has built an optimal tool for driving not only employee satisfaction, but also employee success. “You can think of Motivosity as an operating system for corporate culture. It really systematizes those few levers companies need to pull to build a strong culture,” Johnson explains.

Because a lack of appreciation is a large complaint from healthcare workers, programs like Motivosity give employers and teams an easy way to show appreciation and recognize the good work that employees do. When employees see that their leadership teams are taking accountability for the lack of satisfaction in the workplace, they are more likely to trust those leaders and give them the opportunity to make things right.

“I advise taking extreme ownership of all your actions,” Johnson told Forbes. “By taking accountability, you set a powerful example for your team and build their confidence and trust.”

Through programs like Motivosity, employers can show recognition and give rewards to employees, fostering a culture of gratitude and connectedness that employees do not want to leave behind.

When employees are given access to growth opportunities, purpose within their work, a supportive culture, and flexibility within their work environment, they are more likely to be satisfied with their jobs and less likely to leave. For industry leaders like Scott Johnson, avoiding the pitfalls of the Great Gloom is possible — it just takes knowing what makes employees happy and placing it as a workplace priority.

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Digital Health Buzz!

Digital Health Buzz!

Digital Health Buzz! aims to be the destination of choice when it comes to what’s happening in the digital health world. We are not about news and views, but informative articles and thoughts to apply in your business.

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