I just asked a room of 70 physicians what contributes to their good days.
When my patients do what I tell them to do.
These were the answers. Nothing terribly self-actualized, just a lot of basic needs that validate a serious dilemma facing today’s healthcare workforce: pervasive burnout. Statistics indicate that over half of physicians are burnt out today. Not tired or stressed, but experiencing personal health crises that we know impact patient satisfaction and outcomes.
I became interested in the elements of good days when a colleague and I queried hundreds of physicians about it in our quest to formulate a physician—organization compact within a health system. We simply asked, 'what contributes to your good days at work?' The answers varied—some mirrored the responses I just shared and some were at higher levels of Maslow’s Hierarchy such as ‘when I’m working with the A Team’ and ‘when I’m informed of changes that will affect my practice.’
Miraculously, no matter what the responses sounded like on the surface, they all conveyed this distinct message: I would like to be seen, understood and appreciated as the professional I am because I matter and my work does too.
Imagine what you’d hear if you asked the physicians who work for you, ‘what gives you a good day?’ Your job isn’t to make all their hopes and dreams come true, it’s to ease their way so they can do their job with the least amount of obstacles possible, at least the ones you can influence.
If someone asked you what contributes to your good days, what would you say? (In fact, we'd all love to know, so leave your answer in the comments.)
Sure, some of your responses may include access to a time share in Barbados or a personal chef, but I’ll bet when it comes down to it, there are simple fixes your boss can undertake that would improve your work life, diminish some of your fatigue and even put a spring back in your step, if one ever existed.
So go ahead and try it. This week, ask each member of your team what gives them a good day. Then take action on one item for each person.
Check in after a couple of weeks and see if you’ve made a difference. This practice won't cure us of the serious ills brought upon by burnout, but it is certain to alleviate some of the unnecessary suffering healthcare teams face each day. As leaders, this conversation gives you the opportunity to build engagement, take meaningful action and experience that increasingly rare feeling of progress. It's also a chance to model how you want your team members to treat one another and their patients. After all, more good days for you, means better days for your patients. Don’t you want more good days?