Hospitals, large provider groups and clinics each represent, in and of themselves, a community. The strength of these organizations is derived from the strength of the interpersonal relationships formed within each of them. If a provider community is thriving, the interpersonal relationship bonds are strong within that community. Where ever and whenever the sense of community breaks down you will find burned out healthcare providers.
Recently I began reviewing the 6 mismatches between the job and the individual which can lead to burnout and writing a post on each of them in a series. The fourth mismatch in this series, breakdown of community, is the subject of today’s post.
One of the top reasons people look forward to going to work is because of the anticipated interaction with their fellow employees. This makes work more interesting, fosters teamwork and provides for mutual support.
As organizations grow larger or too quickly a breakdown in the character of the organization can result as short-term profitability is chased at the expense of interpersonal relationships within the organization. This can lead to greater conflicts among employees, a lack of mutual support, lack of respect and a growing sense of isolation.
Where employee turnover is high, whether due to cost cutting measures or to a poor work environment, job security is further eroded. Without job security, tight interpersonal relationships can not be formed. Any sense of community is lost in this way.
In her book, The Truth About Burnout, Dr. Christina Maslach states, “A sense of belonging disappears when people work separately instead of together.” In the presence of growing isolation you will find the absence of a sense of community.
The meme, “we are all in this together” is replaced by, “it’s every man and women for themselves”. I ask you, how good a product or service can be produced if this is the prevailing attitude within an organization?
Many positive steps can be taken in order to repair a damaged sense of community or to create a sense of community where none yet exists. It requires making the work environment conducive to building interpersonal relationships among the employees. I will be writing more on how to accomplish this in future posts.
Please, come back here for the next post in this series on the job-employee mismatches leading to burnout and what to do about them. In the meantime, do you feel a sense of community in your current work environment? Do you feel it is something that could be strengthened to the benefit of your organization and to you personally?