Operational demands persist for the healthcare industry while organizations resume their journey toward becoming Value-Centric Enterprises, driving profound change from the bedside to the revenue cycle. Successful value-based transformation requires leaders to attain change clarity—a critical capability—to understand their organization’s change capacity. The ability of groups, teams, and individuals to adapt and modify their behaviors is crucial for the successful implementation of strategies and initiatives to keep organizations moving forward. To achieve change clarity, organizations will rely on a portfolio of human capital diagnostics to develop a holistic picture of the state of their workforce. As the healthcare industry points to a value-centric model, where tomorrow's health system looks remarkably different than today’s, accurately diagnosing change fatigue and prescribing effective remedies will be essential.
Our brains are hardwired to resist change, and, as individuals, our resistance tends to follow a consistent path. Change resistance leads to exhaustion and ineffective outcomes causing an individual to disengage and even feel cynical toward the more extensive system.
The surge of burnout, as recently cited by the U.S. Surgeon General in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM), is meaningfully driven by the significant and sustained change experienced by those within the healthcare industry.1 That burnout is a catalyst for:
- Unprecedented turnover
- Notable departures from the profession
- Employee environments that challenge the delivery of quality care
Consistent with the NEJM findings, we saw a surge in burnout during the latter stages of the pandemic. Today, burnout is evolving and becoming more complex—a bitter combination of absenteeism, frustration, and cynicism. The emergence of this new burnout variant drives a phenomenon we refer to as the Great Disconnect.
If this was not enough, evolution is occurring where provider leaders need their workforces at their best. Leaders are straddling the task of creatively attacking the challenges of tomorrow and the journey toward a Value-Centric Enterprise while meaningfully improving performance today. Compounded by the fact that the talent competition has become increasingly intense, it's no wonder workforce challenges were the number one concern of hospital CEOs for the second consecutive year.2 When combined, these factors drive an unprecedented amount of change.
To navigate this level of change, organizations will need clarity on the ability of team members to accept change and adapt to its impact. To achieve this clarity, leaders will require careful study to deepen understanding of their organization's readiness to adopt incremental change and the magnitude thereof.
Since the pandemic began, our client work has demonstrated that the tide of change fatigue and burnout can turn when organizations and their leaders follow three steps.
Step 1: Build Intelligence
Building a human capital dataset empowers leaders to understand the state of their workforce at a granular level. And with that clarity, leaders can deploy strategies and tactics tied to the symptoms unique to their workforce and its distinctive sub-groups to fight burnout.
Step 2: Gain Insight
Individuals approach change differently, and understanding these different response styles is critical to reaching team members on a deeper level. When leaders better understand how they and their team members respond to change, this knowledge will prepare them to more effectively manage their reactions to it.
Step 3: Drive Impact
With these inputs, leaders gain deep perspective on how to drive strategies forward in alignment with the needs of their people. Leaders should not let those insights and actions die like words in a PowerPoint deck. They should communicate them clearly, loudly, and visibly across the organization.
Effectively executing these steps allows organizations and their leaders to gain more than intelligence, insight, and impact – they build a capability. By taking these steps, leaders gain a level of understanding about how their people feel about change, what they are looking for from leadership during times of change, and what may drive back the challenges of burnout and change fatigue.
This three-pronged approach has driven meaningful results in large organizations. By matching market data with a deep human capital dataset, organizations gained the ability to holistically understand their organizational strengths and internal and external opportunities. With this heightened awareness and understanding, they built and deployed an enterprise strategic plan that served as a meaningful first step in an informed journey toward true system thinking.
These types of results are not limited to the acute-care setting. It’s with this same approach that a frontline community health center was able to assess the impact of a unique culture development program. By design, this research-based development program builds positivity within the organization, drives associated improvement in agility and confidence, and decreases burnout. Using the intelligence they developed, they were able to pinpoint opportunity spots within their organization and clearly demonstrate the program’s effectiveness over the long term—most notably achieving a significant decrease in burnout by nearly 10%.
Burnout is not new, and its impact will not diminish as the pandemic fades, as the U.S. Surgeon General echoed. Our work shows that post-pandemic burnout is morphing into a more potent variant—driving the disconnect plaguing our workforce. The volume, pace, and magnitude of change in the healthcare industry and the transition to the Value-Centric Enterprise will contribute to change fatigue and burnout. But it is not a lost cause. Leaders and organizations can win this battle with dedicated leadership informed by a rich human capital dataset. When dedication and data are combined, leaders can build the change clarity that the fight against the evolving variant of burnout demands.
FORVIS is ready to help organizations take the guesswork out of change on their journey to becoming a Value-Centric Enterprise. To learn more about Clari3ty® solutions, visit forvis.com/clari3ty.
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