Bleeding Staff

*Recommended Post: Preventing Burnout (practitioner tips)

If you're an ABA peep working in this field and you haven't experienced burnout yet, it's likely that you will at some point in your career.

The way I see it, there are 2 main prevention strategies when it comes to professional burnout:

  1. Proactively prevent it at the employee/practitioner level
  2. Proactively prevent it at the business owner/employer level
Let's talk about option #2.

People who work in human service fields such as counseling/mental health, psychology, social work, in general often report high levels of stress, mental strain, and burnout, but there are also multiple factors outside of the direct control of the practitioner that can worsen this issue.

In my position, I regularly recruit, hire, and onboard new staff. I regularly observe that many of the new hires are seeking a position with quality supervisor/management support, clear channels of communication, and a liveable wage, which were all lacking in their previous positions.

I also regularly observe that multiple applicants come to me from a handful of agencies in my local area. I refer to this as places that are "bleeding staff". Meaning, their employees are quitting in droves
Ever wonder why some companies/agencies seem to have a revolving door when it comes to ABA staff? Glad you asked.

There could be pervasive, unresolved issues with:

  • Inconsistent hours which = inconsistent pay
  • Hard to reach or chronically unavailable supervisors
  • Lack of goodness-of-fit (company culture is lacking)
  • Insufficient program eligibility requirements (clients being accepted are not on board with treatment/abrasive to staff/highly resistant to change, etc.)
  • Lack of variety in your role/position or Lack of advancement opportunities beyond your position
  • Lack of proper training and/or low-quality training

For employers or agency owners, what can we do to ensure that we put systems in place to help prevent burnout from occurring, and also to quickly identify and address burnout that is already occurring?

Focus on quality right from the start - Quality recruiting practices, quality training, quality onboarding. Ensure that people are properly prepared for their role, understand the demands of their position, and have been trained to competency to perform their role with excellence.

Leadership training yields professionals, not workers - When leadership training (accountability, initiative, critical thinking skills) is built in to the staff training process, what this produces is future leaders who will produce high-quality work. Leaders add value to organizations, versus just holding a position.

Create company policies and procedures of operation ... and actually enforce them - Speaking from experience, the only thing worse than working for an employer that lacks appropriate policies, is working for an employer that has policies but never enforces them. This may sound odd, but a lack of appropriate operating systems can hinder effective employee performance. For example, when the illness policy is not enforced, clients get sick. When clients get sick, employees get sick. When employees get sick, they cannot work. When employees cannot depend on reliable, consistent income, here comes job dissatisfaction and stress. 

To put it simply, the work that we do is far too important to approach it from a space of frustration or mental fatigue. We have to guard our own emotional well-being, as well as hold low-quality employers accountable for consistent business practices that contribute to lowered levels of job satisfaction. It's NOT okay.

* Professional Burnout Resources:

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