Insufficient Reward and Burnout

One of the largest contributors to job burnout is insufficient reward. Whether you are talking about tangible or intangible rewards, people must derive one, the other or both from the work they do. Where there is little reward, expect little effort and poor results. 

I have been 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 third mismatch in this series, insufficient reward, is the subject of today’s post.

Sufficient intrinsic and extrinsic rewards must be present for job satisfaction and to prevent burnout.

Sufficient intrinsic and extrinsic rewards must be present for job satisfaction and to prevent burnout.

Market forces are exerting tremendous pressure on businesses in the healthcare arena to reduce costs and preserve bottom line profits. This is especially true for large healthcare organizations such as hospitals and large independent provider groups.

This has created a steady erosion in organizations’ capacity to reward their employees in meaningful ways. People seek tangible rewards from meaningful work such as money, security, recognition, benefits, expertise, career advancement and intrinsic rewards too.

If these are lacking, individuals will begin to question why they are working so hard, even as they are being asked to work harder. This is a very simple equation, no factoring required: MORE WORK + LESS REWARD = DISSATISFACTION.

But, this is precisely what is happening in healthcare. Salaries have stagnated as reimbursements have fallen or failed to keep up with inflation, taxes and fees. Salary increases have become fewer are farther in between.

Job benefits have taken a beating as cutbacks are enlisted to strengthen the bottom line. The cost of employee healthcare is being shifted to employees as high deductible plans are adopted to save money. In this regard, the healthcare benefit is beginning to look more like a liability.

Top heavy organizations once flush with management personnel are now actively eliminating middle management positions. Those responsibilities are being shifted to the ranks without a change in job title or any attendant prestige. This effectively reduces possibilities for career advancement.

With less possibility for advancement there is less opportunity to expand one’s expertise in a given area of endeavor. This effect is compounded as more autonomy is taken from the individuals in the workforce in lieu of more centralized control. Job theaters become more restrictive, less innovative, less creative and most importantly, less productive.

Long gone are the days when one would begin work for a company at a low wage when young, work for thirty or forty years, see a steady rise in salary and position, then retire with a pension. Bankruptcy, downsizing, layoffs and restructuring efforts have all but eliminated this once familiar scenario which has crushed the notion of job security.

All of this, all of these various actions and reactions only serve to increase employee dissatisfaction, contributing heavily to employee burnout as even intrinsic value evaporates.

Every healthcare company and provider organization must eventually come to understand, a burned out workforce will cost more in the long run than cost cutting measures such as these will ever save. You can bank on it.

What’s tragic is it just doesn’t have to be this way. Much can be done to reward physicians, physician extenders, nurses, technicians, and those in management and recognize them for their hard work without breaking the bank. The best way to create a bottom line surplus is with a fully engaged workforce. 

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, are you feeling or seeing more or less reward in your current workplace environment? Aside from an increase in salary, what types of rewards would you like to see from your job/employer?

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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