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CNAs are the backbone of any healthcare facility. They work hard for patients day in, day out. So when CNAs burn out, it can affect everything from quality of care to your bottom line. Preventing burnout can help CNAs have a fulfilling career—and reduce your hiring needs long-term. So how do you go about preventing turnover and burnout? 

What Is CNA Burnout? 

According to the Mayo Clinic, Burnout is “a state of physical or emotional exhaustion that also involves a sense of reduced accomplishment and loss of personal identity.” symptoms of burnout include:  

  • Feeling empty 
  • Feeling mentally exhausted
  • Losing motivation and care 
  • Lack of hope about career or life circumstances

CNAs are at high risk of burnout in healthcare. Not only are they dealing with intense caregiving situations on a daily basis, they’re also receiving low wages—with the average CNA earning $36K. When CNAs are burned out, they may leave the company or the healthcare industry in general. This can leave you short-staffed, leading to far too many open shifts and a decreased quality of care. 

6 Ways to Prevent CNA Burnout 

So how do you prevent CNA burnout (and other forms of caregiver burnout) given the unique challenges that CNAs face? The answer is a multi-step approach that prioritizes the CNAs themselves. Here’s how to get started. 

1. Create Career Paths

CNA burnout can become a lot worse when it doesn’t feel like there’s a path forward. Imagine doing the same duties every day with no way to meet your personal and work goals. To avoid this, create career paths for CNAs so they know they’re moving towards something. 

Here are some strategies to help build professional pathways for CNAs. 

  • Offer in-house training programs so CNAs can further their skills. This can be anything from patient care skills to “soft skills” such as bedside manner. 
  • Curate a speaker series. Invite speakers who started their healthcare journeys as CNAs to discuss how their careers have evolved. This perspective can give current employees a better understanding of how to move forward with their own goals. 
  • Create mentorship programs so CNAs can connect with others who have been in their position and better understand how they can nurture their skills. 

2. Recognize Employees

CNAs deserve recognition for their hard work. Take time to spotlight employees and consider offering rewards to employees who perform particularly well. Try to be specific about why you’re celebrating your employees. Direct managers can be a great resource when it comes to giving CNAs positive and specific feedback—they’re the ones who interact closest with employees. 

3. Offer Flexible Schedules

Flexible scheduling can reduce CNA burnout by allowing CNAs to schedule their shifts in a way that fits their lives. This can include:

Let’s say that you have a CNA who is a working parent and needs to drop their kid off at school. A staggered start time can help that employee finish school pick-up and still arrive at the facility in time for their shift. It can also reduce the chaos of several CNAs starting their duties at exactly the same time.  

Does the idea of flexible scheduling give you a headache? If you invest in an excellent shift scheduling software, you can automatically manage these different schedules without having to do the math. 

Ready to transform shift scheduling? Join the OnCall waitlist. 

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4. Be Flexible With Your Benefits

Flexible benefits can help CNAs approach their benefits package according to their life priorities. Maybe they want to prioritize mental health, and would like to invest in mental health benefits. Maybe they’re a caretaker of children, and prefer family-oriented benefits. With flexible benefits, CNAs will be able to craft a plan that aligns with their goals and benefits their day-to-day lives. 

As of March 2021, 36% of hospital industry workers have a flexible benefits package in some form. You’ll be a competitive employer for CNAs and all other healthcare employees if you offer one as well. Increasingly, you may not be able to attract the best talent without a flexible benefits package. 

5. Consider On-site Childcare 

Did you know that, according to Linkedin, 83% of millennials say that they would switch to a different employer for family-friendly benefits? Meanwhile, 62% of American parents—of any generation—struggle with finding affordable childcare that fits into their budget. 

For CNAs, who often have lower salaries than many others in the healthcare industry, on-site childcare can be an absolute game-changer. When CNAs aren’t able to find affordable childcare, they’ll be able to take on fewer shifts. Not only does this decrease the quality of care provided by your organization, it also reduces the CNAs ability to work and provide for themselves and their families. Subsidized or free on-site childcare can help CNAs come to work more often, spend time with their families, and generally enter the workday worry-free. 

Worried about the logistics of setting up a daycare? The initial costs can be high, but by following our guide to setting up an onsite daycare, you’ll be on your way to a successful program.

Read our comprehensive guide. 

6. Speak Frankly About Mental Health

Mental health shouldn’t be a stigmatized topic in the workplace. People facing mental health issues (including CNA burnout) tend to experience large amounts of stigma already. This includes:

  • Public stigma. Discrimination created by large groups and society. 
  • Institutional stigma. Discrimination perpetuated by institutions, such as government and private organizations. This is the stigma you’re most likely to dismantle as an employer. 
  • Self stigma. Shame, guilt, and other negative attitudes directed towards the self due to mental health concerns. 

As an employer, you’re uniquely positioned to start taking apart stigma on an institutional level. Speak frankly about mental health, host mental health workshops, and implement the other suggestions on this list so that your employees never have to face shame or stigma when they go into work—regardless of their mental or emotional state. 

Talking about mental health isn’t enough on its own, but is a crucial first step. Consider providing managers with training about mental health stigma, so that conversations can become more inclusive across the board. 

Better Hiring With Apploi

Apploi helps you find and recruit your ideal candidates, so you can focus on supporting employees through CNA burnout. Interested in learning more about how you can recruit, hire, and onboard healthcare staff quickly? Contact us today for a free demo of our end-to-end talent management solution.

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Pritma Chattha, DNP MHA RN

Pritma is a Yale-educated nurse executive with 18 years of experience advocating for patients at the bedside and in the boardroom. She currently serves as the Head of Healthcare Innovation at Apploi—healthcare's leading recruitment and credentialing platform. Over the last decade, Pritma has honed her expertise as a health informaticist, building and improving electronic health records and credentialing platforms. She is the immediate former Executive Director of Electronic Quality and Safety for Alberta Health Services, the largest health system in Canada. Pritma enjoys rethinking healthcare processes to provide safer, better, and more accessible healthcare. https://www.linkedin.com/in/pritma/

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