healthcare workersHealthcare workers must be able to lead patients by example. The problem is, the very workers who are treating patients can sometimes be left out of the well-being equation, finds a September 2015 Gallup posting, Often Ignored: Healthcare Employees' Well-Being. “This is particularly worrisome as healthcare employees' well-being can affect a healthcare organization's ability to provide the best and safest patient care,” write Gallup analysts Jade Wood and Rebecca Riffkin.

Gallup and Healthways have developed a comprehensive, research-based definition of well-being and how it relates to employees, business outcomes, and living a fulfilled life. This definition encompasses five interrelated and essential elements: purpose, social, financial, community, and physical. Together, these elements provide key insights into individuals' sense of purpose, social relationships, financial security, relationship to their community ,and physical health. 

For the study, respondents classified these well-being elements as: 

  • Thriving: well-being that is strong and consistent in a particular element.
  • Struggling: well-being that is moderate or inconsistent in a particular element.
  • Suffering: well-being that is low and inconsistent in a particular element. 

Only one-third (34 percent) of healthcare workers in the Gallup panel rank their ell-being as thriving in three to five elements. This is not surprising news, as the field of medicine can be quite stressful. Healthcare is “both emotionally demanding and logistically rigorous, which can be a recipe for burnout,” explain Wood and Riffkin. In addition, they add that “regulatory and compliance tasks can create a heavy and sometimes burdensome workload for many healthcare professionals.” 

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The panel confirms that a "care for the healthcare worker" approach is essential to give workers the energy, focus, and adaptability they need. The study finds that healthcare workers who are thriving in three or more elements are more likely to be at work every day, “because they have fewer unhealthy days that prevent them from doing their usual activities than do those with lower well-being.” 

From an organizational perspective, well-being programs can also help improve employee engagement, retain talent, and drive other significant business outcomes. Gallup reports that medical professionals who are thriving in three or more elements are two times less likely to look for a new job than their counterparts with lower well-being. This finding is significant because attendance and retention are crucial components of proper patient care, patient satisfaction, correct staffing coverage, and reduced expenses.

The study is based on a Gallup Panel Web study completed by 24,320 national adults, aged 18 and older, conducted October 8 to November 13, 2014. A subsample of 1,300 healthcare working adults was selected for this analysis.