02 Nov Preventing burnout
Quick! Off the top of your head, name the best job you ever had. Now, take a moment to think about what made it fantastic. Why did you pick that position? Did you enjoy the work? Was it more about your coworkers? If you take a step back and truly look at your favorite job (or jobs) it probably rated so high because you were treated well and supported by your team.
When employees feel valued and motivated they are more invested in your company and its growth potential. Engaged employees generally provide more customer service and spread the word about your services. Not only does this translate to increased loyalty among your existing client base, it can lead to new patient growth as well. Ultimately, engaged and motivated employees can have a significant and positive impact on your bottom line.
There has been a good deal of discussion about customer service and how to deliver the best service to grow your business. A crucial aspect of delivering amazing customer service is ensuring that your employees are properly trained, supported, and engaged in performing their work. Businesses that focus on employee well-being and engagement have seen more than 20% increase in productivity.
Monitor employee satisfaction/signs of burnout
A good management team will be able to decipher when their team is struggling, but there are some early warning signs that can help even the most astute managers identify a small issue before it becomes a full-blown problem.
- Looking lax not relaxed
A day here or there could just be a bad day, but a series of low-productivity days or a steady trend downward can clue you in to some employee dissatisfaction. Before productivity and quality plummet, look for subtle backslides and monitor these trends to catch problems early.
- The disengagement anomaly
Are you greeted with crickets when asking for input? If not, your employees may be telling you something. When employees stop engaging in workplace processes, it’s a likely sign there’s something amiss.
- Moaning Myrtle
Who can forget the Harry Potter character who pined for her lost life in the girls’ bathroom at Hogwarts? Is your office starting to sound like Myrtle? When complaints become a regular occurrence around your office it’s a good bet that at least one of your employees is burnt out and in need of relief.
- Absent and accident-prone
Call-offs and goof-ups are a sure way to torpedo your customer service standards. People make mistakes but when you see a trend in errors where there were none before or an employee is habitually taking sick days, it’s a warning sign that your employee may be stressed out and struggling.
- Second (guess) that emotion
Emotions run high in high-stress situations and that may be the case on Wall Street but is that what you’re looking for? When you start seeing over-sensitivity or extreme, even irrational ideas, from an employee, it’s time to talk about what’s really going on. Life stressors aside, this behavior can alert you to a pervasive issue.
Accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative
Negativity can spread like wildfire and drag down the morale of an entire office if given the opportunity. Identifying the problems are only a part of a manager’s job in dealing with employee burn out. What do you do when you know what you’re dealing with?
- Don’t fight fire with fire
Perhaps this would be a good philosophy on the playground but it has no place in an office. Getting angry at employees or icing them out (the silent treatment) aren’t going to work with adults. You aren’t a parent; they aren’t your children. Remember, it’s probably not personal, it’s burnout.
- Don’t mix and match
You aren’t a pick-a-mix station and neither are your employees. Keep your messages consistent across the board and your employees will respect you more for it. Think of this as building that loyalty with your employees so they will in turn build it with your customers.
- Take responsibility
Again, this is a part of earning respect. If you make a mistake, own up to it. Modeling for your employees that “the buck stops here” is a great way to encourage ownership at every level of your company. Taking responsibility for your actions helps build a culture of accountability.
- Fact check, don’t jump to conclusions
Office rumor mills are notorious for juicy gossip but not necessarily the whole truth. Beyond that, difficult customers (more on this later) can provide you with partial truths to get what they are seeking. Hold off on reprimanding employees until you have all the facts of a situation.
- Do what you say and say what you mean
Make your word mean something. If you are going to do something, do it and do it timely. Telling an employee that you are going to meet with them after lunch and following through with that is going to make him or her feel important and respected. Conversely, if you push that employee off until the next day or later in the week, they will remember that and if it happens regularly it becomes a pattern that makes him or her feel unimportant.
- Be responsive
Interact with your team. If you are asked a question, answer it. Listen to employee feedback and take it to heart. Even if you can’t deliver on everything that is asked of you, be open and honest about what you can and cannot do.
- Praise is Pavlovian
Humans crave praise. Your employees want to know when they are doing well and they are more likely to continue performing well when praised. Publicly acknowledge and support your team. Try small rewards, a pizza party, or even donuts on occasion to let your employees know that their hard work is not going unnoticed.
- Turn that frown upside down
Having fun at work is as crucial as working hard. Laugh a little, tell jokes, and smile at your team. Laughter has a place in the office, it really is contagious, and more than that, decreases stress.
Training opportunity: Dealing with difficult callers
One of the most difficult aspects of customer service is dealing with difficult callers. It’s not difficult to imagine employee burn out being highly correlated with an influx of challenging customer service experiences. This provides a fantastic training opportunity to help your employees cope and lower the chances of burn out.
Angry or distraught?
- Stay calm
It’s best to keep your voice even, but if the caller raises his or her voice, lower yours.
- Nothing personal
Keep in mind that your patient is not angry at you as much as the situation or something else altogether. Of course, it can be difficult to not take it personally when somebody is screaming at you, but practice makes perfect.
- Use your listening ears
Listen for cues as to what the underlying issues may be or what resolution the caller may be seeking. You may also be able to discover things you can do in the immediate future to de-escalate the situation.
Actively attempt to identify with your patient. Let them know you understand they are hurting, upset, or frustrated and that you are committed to doing whatever possible to help alleviate the troubles.
- Solve the problem
Follow through. Do what you can to resolve the issue, even if it does not result in a complete victory in the patient’s eyes.
- Disconnect and breathe
It is important to take a moment after a difficult call. As a manager, it is crucial to allow employees a few moments to deal with the emotions following an angry or distraught caller. Collecting your thoughts and processing the call before starting another is in the best interest of everybody involved.
It should be on your computer
How often have you heard this? How many times per day do you think your employees receive this response from a patient? Is it that big of a stretch that people think computers are omniscient? They can do a great many things but sadly, mind-reading and delivering all pertinent information in the blink of an eye are just not possible.
Poor historians and uneducated patients make good customer service challenging in a very different way. It’s hard to imagine how people can know so little about themselves and the medical process. Even in the absence of a mental disorder, patient information can be inaccurate and incomplete which presents a problem for your employees. Patience is key here, take it slow, breathe through the frustration, and get creative!
Past medical history is necessary but people may not remember everything. Ask if there are other people who may remember past hospitalizations, past illnesses, or immunizations.
Simply noted “cold symptoms” doesn’t go very far to help your patient, does it? The more details, the better, but how can you get there if you’re customer isn’t forthcoming or is struggling to define the source of their woes?
- “It began a few months ago.” That doesn’t really help much, does it? This is where you ask more questions, what was the weather like? Was it around a holiday? Was it near your birthday?
- “It’s in my head.” Narrow it down with descriptive terms that can help identify more clearly what you’re dealing with. Is it around your eyes? Does it feel like a crown around your head?
- Insurance information
This may be the most difficult to obtain if the patient truly doesn’t know what they have. If it’s not on file, it may be time to ask the customer if they’ve got somebody else to call to find out, another physician or a family member who can help them locate the information needed.