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Well-Being

Four Potential Systemic Management Solutions to Address Well-Being in the Workplace

As we carry the trauma and experiences of the COVID-19 pandemic into the next phase of life, it is critical to identify opportunities for systemic solutions to address the pandemic’s resulting mental burnout, physical exhaustion, psychic trauma, and illness.

Everyone reacts differently to change, whether the change is positive or negative. The Kübler-Ross Change Curve exemplifies the phases of change that one might experience. These phases affect well-being and require systemic solutions to support individuals experiencing them.

Systemic solutions at the individual and organizational level are critical to addressing well-being, burnout, psychic trauma, and more. Some simple management solutions to experiment and integrate into well-being practices include the following.

  1. Create manageable workload. Focus on time management; specifically, time spent in meetings. Start by asking, “Is this meeting necessary?” If it is, then ask yourself, “Does it have to be a video call? Does it have to be longer than 30 minutes? Which attendees are essential? Do attendees need to be on camera? Could audio-only conference be used instead of video meeting for a screen break?” Start meetings with a check-in to ask how people are feeling and find out if anyone has back-to-back calls, in order to set a time so they can jump off early.1
  2. Discuss mental health at work. Start by identifying and communicating about what resources are available and what needs to be made available. By identifying and discussing preventative measures (stress reduction, mindfulness, and educational materials), in-the-moment measures (hotlines, crisis support), and treatment (telepsychiatry for therapy and medication, if needed), a culture shift begins to occur that acknowledges mental health treatment is not just something that happens urgently or in crisis, but rather is something that needs to continue to be available even after the current public health crisis passes.2
  3. Engage in empathetic management. Active listening is key to empathetic management. Often, the small things you say and do over time account for the bigger picture of one’s well-being. For example, one study found that, on average, an adult will say “I’m fine” 14 times a week, though only 19 percent of people really mean it. Instead of asking someone, “How are you?” ask them an open-ended question to engage in conversation, such as, “What is the best/hardest part of your day?” Moving beyond a conversation of “how are you” opens the space to actively listen to what others are talking about—giving you the opportunity to see patterns and engage in finding a solution before a potentially solvable issue becomes a larger problem. When met with resistance to conversation, you can continue to start small by saying, “I’m here to talk if you ever want to.”
  4. Encourage connection to family and friends. With mental health declines, increased work demands, and growing feelings of loneliness, a strong sense of connection to family and friends becomes a key part of addressing burnout. Within the workplace, peer-to-peer communication groups can offer space for employees to interact and provide support to one another that build friendships and relationships.

References

  1. Moss J. Beyond burned out. Harvard Business Review. February 10, 2021. Available at: https://hbr.org/2021/02/beyond-burned-out. Accessed June 28, 2021.
  2. Gold J. The COVID-19 crisis too few are talking about: Health care workers' mental health. STAT. April 3, 2020. Available at: https://www.statnews.com/2020/04/03/the-covid-19-crisis-too-few-are-talking-about-health-care-workers-mental-health/. Accessed June 28, 2021.