The medical field is one of the most stressful work environments around, so burnout for medical staff can be quite high. The work involved can be both emotionally and physically draining, but employees in the medical field always need to be performing at their best.
In order to allow medical staff to provide the best care and experience possible, it’s important to make sure you’re creating a healthy office environment for them. Below are five steps you can take to keep your staff’s morale, and performance, high.
1. Adopt an Efficient Layout for your Medical Office
Smart medical office design minimizes employee workload and removes distractions. According to Carol Stryker at Physicians Practice, the ideal layout for a medical office guides patients in a circle from the waiting room to exam room, through the rest of the hallway, and back to reception.
"staff should also have a separate office entrance
from the one used by patients,"
Moving patients through the office in a circle keeps the hallways clear so medical staff can travel easily between different exam rooms and workstations. Stryker advises that staff should also have a separate office entrance from the one used by patients, so they can slip in and out without interrupting... or being interrupted.
Ideally, work areas are close to exam rooms so staff won’t have to do as much walking, and they can keep an eye and ear open in case they’re needed by a patient or coworker. On the other hand, break areas should be located away from the exam and waiting rooms so that staff will have a place to blow off steam without disturbing patients.
2. Promote an Office Culture of Teamwork and Support
Because the medical field can be such a stressful work environment, it’s important that your staff is there to help and support one another. That means hiring employees who are not only good at their job, but who are also the right fit for your office culture.
"They also have a 47% chance of spreading
their bad attitude to others."
In an article for Business News Daily, Dylan Minor, an assistant professor at Northwestern University, explained how individuals with a bad attitude impact an office. These individuals tend to produce a lower-quality of work, even if they have superior skills on paper. They also have a 47% chance of spreading their bad attitude to others. Once you have a strong team in place, then you can build a strong office support structure.
The American Medical Association advises that starting peer support groups can be a great way to help your staff deal with the stress and negative emotions that can come with working in healthcare. Your staff may have to deal with negative outcomes when it comes to patient care, and that can weigh heavily on them emotionally. They suggest that peer support groups can help to reduce feelings of shame or inadequacy by providing a safe place for staff to find understanding, advice, and helpful resources.
3. Encourage a Healthy Work-Life Balance for Your Staff
Working in healthcare often means long hours and irregular schedules for medical staff. The American Medical Association notes it is important to ensure your staff is able to take care of their personal lives outside of the office in order to prevent burn-out.
"try to be as flexible as you can with allowing staff to
schedule important personal tasks."
Consult with staff to understand what their ideal personal schedule may look like. Include things like how many hours of sleep, recreation, meal prep, exercise, and family time they need to feel and work their best, then try to develop a work schedule that can support those needs.
Finding a perfect scheduling match may not always be possible. In those cases, try to be as flexible as you can with allowing staff to schedule important personal tasks. As long as a request doesn’t interfere with office function, allowing time off for a mid-day dentist visit or parent-teacher meeting should be a no-brainer.
4. Choose Medical Office Design that Promotes Mental and Physical Health
Employees perform at their best when they are happy and satisfied. Your medical office design can have a big impact on your employee’s overall happiness and well-being.
One way to keep staff happy is by adding plants and arranging your office to take advantage of natural light. We’ve written before about how this can have a positive effect on both mental and physical health for employees. Office plants can reduce noise, improve air quality, and instill an overall sense of relaxation. Studies have also shown that natural light can promote better and longer sleep habits.
"Maintaining a clean, stylish healthcare space conveys to employees and patients that your practice is modern and up-to-date."
Making sure that your office furniture is comfortable, stylish, and functional is another important way to improve morale. Business Daily recommends following current design trends so people feel a sense of pride in their workplace. Maintaining a clean, stylish healthcare space conveys to employees and patients that your practice is modern and up-to-date.
Finally, allow your employees to weigh in on design decisions in your office and personalize their work stations. This makes your medical staff feel valued, and it ensures that their office space is as comfortable as possible. Adding potted plants, pictures of friends and family, and positive patient stories (with identifying details removed for HIPPA privacy reasons) are all great ways staff can feel more at home.
Key Take Aways:
- Medical staff need a well-designed and supportive office environment in order to produce their best work.
- Reduce unnecessary stress and distractions by optimizing your office layout.
- Keep traffic moving smoothly in halls, cut down walking by locating workstations near exam rooms, and provide private staff-only areas.
- Foster a culture of teamwork and empathy among office staff by creating peer support groups and hiring new staff not only for skill, but also for good cultural fit.
- Encourage a healthy work-life balance for your staff by allowing them flexibility at work to take care of their personal lives, and by consulting with them to design a healthy work schedule.
- Take advantage of plants, natural sunlight, and functional furniture to promote your employees’ physical and mental health.
- Work with your employees to create a stylish office where they’ll feel at home.