How Managers Manage Stress
Advice for reducing job pressure and burnout—for yourself, and for others
Part of a manager’s job is to look at the big picture—and job stress and burnout are usually part of the picture in health care. Operational leaders from two regions share their thoughts on keeping workplace energy and morale high.
Wendy Watson (Northwest)
Regional vice president, Professional, Clinical and Continuing Care Services
There’s very little downtime in our work. We want to deliver great service, quality, affordability. The pace is fast, as our industry is changing rapidly. That can be a formula for stress. No one can do this work alone—we all need to support one another.
Build strong teams
High-performing unit-based teams are part of the solution. Solving even one problem at a time can help a team increase job satisfaction and get results, and that reduces stress. If you are leading teams you have to be very purposeful—making time with your team, creating space to talk and making our meeting time productive and solution-focused.
Some of our facilities have Living Room huddles, where people from all departments gather before the start of business, and one department presents a topic. It’s an opportunity to learn and build relationships across the facility. The more connected we are, the more we can support each other.
Make time for yourself
Running is my No. 1 antidote to stress. I try to run regularly—early in the morning before the workday, and longer on weekends. It’s my way to expend physical energy and feel mentally reenergized.
You have to make time for yourself, and that includes exercise. It’s not easy to do. But when you make exercise a priority, you create energy to be able to deal more effectively with stress.
Corwin Harper (Northern California)
Senior vice president, Area Manager, Napa-Solano
It’s hard to generalize about stress because everybody has a different stress meter. We all handle things differently. It’s an issue of work-life balance, and we’re in an industry where we all invest our personal energy, because health care is about caring for others.
People have to be aware of that and think about what they can do to manage their energy and stress levels. We should proactively manage things at work that sap energy and invest in things that raise our energy.
How do you help others?
As a leader, I have to be aware of what I can do to minimize energy-wasters and reduce job stress.
We talk about stress in our workplace safety conversations. I address it as part of leadership rounding. And rounding is not just checking the box. It’s focused on engaging with people about how they’re doing, letting them know you care, encouraging them to spend time with their families and calling out work-related issues that are barriers to performance.
We focus on creating a culture where we understand and respect one another.
I hate sitting all day long. I do core exercises at work in my spare moments. You have to know when to step away and recharge. I try to eat right, exercise, listen to music and pray. I’m still working on getting enough sleep.
Rounding for results
Rounding is a powerful tool for creating a culture where employees are free to speak. Having a short list of open-ended questions to ask each person on a regular basis makes it easier for staff members to raise concerns—and that, in turn, helps reduce stress levels.