Resilience has become a buzzword among healthcare leaders over recent years, and it’s easy to see why. With the COVID-19 pandemic ongoing, showing resilience in the face of upheaval has taken on new significance. Wellness—both physical and mental—also has grown in importance for healthcare leaders, as the logistical challenges of treating scores of COVID-19 patients continues to take a toll on healthcare workers. See below for five leader-specific recommendations for fostering resilience and helping your healthcare teams thrive.
1. Build a great team and let it succeed.
Resilience is only likely to take hold if team members have confidence in one another, so make sure your team is capable, reliable and inclusive. Keep in mind, a team is only as great as its leader’s willingness to delegate. Trusting your team members to do what they do is key to instilling confidence (which happens to be key to instilling resilience).
2. Have a plan but stay flexible.
Leaders are defined by the ability to plan, and the most effective leaders have a way of establishing a clear pathway from a plan’s early stages through its completion. Part of good planning is anticipating what could go wrong. Identifying these potential pain points and how to overcome them—conducting a pre-mortem, for example—often necessitates feedback from team members. Seeking this feedback not only helps to avoid setbacks, it empowers your team members with knowledge of the company’s long-term goals. Knowledge is power—and a key ingredient for creating a culture of resilience.
3. Lead by example.
Most effective leaders share two key characteristics: optimism and focus. Optimism equips them with the ability to stay upbeat and energetic, and focus keeps them calm and solution-driven. And what is resilience if not optimism plus focus?
Best of all, optimism and focus can be contagious. When leadership exemplifies these characteristics, the team is more likely to internalize and reflect them, staying motivated through challenging times.
4. Know their limits (and your own).
It’s no secret that the healthcare industry has long been plagued by burnout—that harmful combination of physical exhaustion, cynicism and inefficiency that results from long-term job-related stress. And with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic ravaging hospitals over the past year, the situation has grown dire.
A healthy work-life balance helps employees stay within their limitations. Out-of-office activities like exercise, pursuing hobbies, and spending time with family allows team members to recharge and recognize there is life outside of work. Encourage this freely, as this can lead to better overall job performance, a clearer perspective and a renewal of optimism.
5. Consider a Chief Wellness Officer.
While a number of measures—onsite counseling for staff, scheduling social activities outside the workplace, the allowance of flexible hours—have been shown to work in improving employee morale, leaders interested in proactively mitigating workplace stress might consider hiring a Chief Wellness Officer. If a new position is out of the question, you could also assign a fractional role to a wellness champion already in the organization.
This CWO would be responsible for maintaining a culture that prioritizes wellness (and destigmatizes mental health disorders) by promoting and supporting staff well-being. Duties include working with mental health professionals and department heads to improve awareness of mental health disorders and keeping tabs on employees’ professional fulfillment.
In order to do their jobs well, healthcare leaders themselves must be resilient and healthy, inside and out. Creating a culture of resilience and wellness starts with you.