In 2022, 72% of employees left a job due to it being a toxic workplace. 51% said that they plan to leave their current job within the next year for the same reason. According to Fortune.com, over 64% of workplaces are toxic. Chances are you have experienced a toxic workplace at some time.
The healthcare system is particularly vulnerable to these situations. People often believe that it is because of the emotional toll of this type of work. That’s untrue. It’s actually because of too much bureaucracy and not enough flexibility; too many rote tasks, such as EHR input; long hours; and high patient counts.
You probably have friends who are nurses. You know, then, that it is routine for them to be scheduled for 12-hour shifts, that are actually 14 hours. They often go without meals or bio breaks during these shifts. Employers don’t necessarily make food available on night shift-no cafeteria, and no healthy choices in the vending machines. Are you aware that physicians in hospitals often work 168 to 240-hour shifts? Are you aware that the average lifespan of these physicians is their mid-50s? Many of them drop dead of a heart attack in a dark hallway in the hospital in the middle of the night. It’s a common story. Many more commit suicide. 400 physicians and over 700 nurses commit suicide every year.
What can you do if you find yourself in a toxic workplace. First, you can leave. However, with these statistics, it’s likely you’ll move on only to find yourself in another toxic work environment. You need to learn to set boundaries with administrators and management. You need to prioritize where you want flexibility and stick to these priorities in your negotiations. Set boundaries: nurses have unions that assist them with hours and workloads. Physicians will soon be doing this as a matter of course. Setting boundaries around such things is not callousness on the part of healthcare workers. It’s a matter of survival.
Culture change is what’s needed. Ideally, that occurs at the organizational level. However, never forget the power of an individual. Culture change can be initiated by the acts and behavior of a single person. Don’t forget what Margaret Mead said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed individuals can change the world. In fact, it’s the only thing that ever has.” My team and I specialize in teaching people how to speak with administrators, and how to set boundaries and negotiate.
To learn more, start here with my communication guide.