Is Healthcare a Satisfying Career Choice?

Poll Reveals How Satisfied Nurses, Doctors, and Technicians Are in Their Jobs

How Happy are Healthcare Workers at Work?
How Happy are Healthcare Workers at Work?. TinyPulse

Are healthcare workers happy with their careers, as compared to workers in other industries? How satisfied are nurses, doctors, and technicians with their health career? How likely are workers to leave for more money or a better work environment?

In a survey conducted by TINYpulse, a company that helps measure employee engagement, company revenue, financial returns, and productivity, over one thousand healthcare workers were polled with questions regarding their workload, career satisfaction, burnout, communication, management issues, compensation, turnover and more. The poll results may be surprising in some aspects but are more predictable in other areas. 

How Happy Are They?

Healthcare workers report a slightly higher level of workplace happiness on a scale of one to ten, than other industries. 

Healthcare employees rate their happiness level at 7.49, compared to 7.37 for other industries.

"Being happy with your job isn't just a fluffy sentiment; there are concrete outcomes," the TINYpulse report states. The report goes on to cite a nurse workforce study from the National Database of Nursing Quality Indicators which shows that nurse job satisfaction directly correlates with one's intent to stay in their current job, and also correlates with quality of care, though at a smaller level.

How Balanced Are They?

While healthcare workers feel happier than the benchmark, they definitely feel that they have less of a work-life balance than their counterparts in other industries.

On a scale of one to ten, healthcare workers ranked their work-life balance at 5.87, compared with 7.02 ranking among professionals in other industries. 

Heavy workloads are likely a factor in this imbalance, as 50 percent of respondents report attending to at least 21 patients weekly, while another 13 percent tend to over 100 patients per week! 

Naturally, the heavier the workload, the greater the burnout, according to the poll. 

When asked to rank how burnt out they feel on a scale of one to ten, ratings ranged from 4.21 at zero patients weekly, to 4.77 for those who see 21 to 50 patients per week. Healthcare workers who treat over a hundred patients per week rate their burn out level at 4.98.

How Valued Do They Feel?

Even though healthcare workers are relatively happy, extremely busy and in high demand, they do not feel as valued as workers in other industries, unfortunately.

Healthcare employees rated their value scale at 6.46, while the benchmark across all industries is 7.20. 

"These responses paint a picture of a workforce that feels satisfaction with their work, but also struggle with being stretched too thin" and not feeling valued, the report concludes.

Because they don't feel valued, healthcare workers are more likely than workers in other industries to leave their current job for a ten percent raise.

On a scale of one to ten, healthcare workers rated their likelihood of leaving for a ten percent raise at 5.78 percent, compared to the 4.27 benchmark across all industries.

Administration vs. Clinicians

Although their objectives are the same, professional relations among clinicians and healthcare administrators are often challenging. The poll reveals the following correlations:

  • Employees who report being blocked by management are more likely to be burnt out.
  • Employees who report being blocked by management are more likely to leave for a ten percent raise.

"The divide between patient caregivers and administration cannot be ignored. There are significant consequences for employee retention," the report states.

Despite these issues, healthcare workers give themselves positive ratings when it comes to their own job performance (8.47 on a scale of one to ten, compared to 7.96 benchmark rating.) Also, they rate their service level to patients highly, at 8.53.

Additionally, the report reveals a "troubling" contrast between the performance ratings employees give themselves, compared to how they rate the performance of their organization.

Who's Happier: Nurses or Doctors?

When the responses are broken out for nurses and doctors, nurses rated some aspects of their careers more favorably than doctors, while doctors feel more positive about other factors.

Doctors report being generally happier at work, with a rating of 7.67 to nurses' 7.34, even though they report almost the same level of burn-out as nurses. (4.90 to 4.84 respectively.) Moreover, female nurses are even less happy (7.31) than male nurses (7.65), while male and female physicians reported the same level of happiness.

Nurses rate their pay slightly higher than doctors. When asked to rate their pay compared to the market standard, nurses ranked their pay 6.11, to doctors' 5.85. Male nurses rate their pay even higher (6.59) than female nurses, which could be because male nurses reportedly earn more than female nurses. Nurses also rate their benefits higher than doctors.

Nurses gave themselves slightly higher ratings on service to patients, 8.48, to physicians' 8.25. There was minimal difference between male and female ratings on this question. Nurses also rate themselves more favorably (8.45) on their overall performance, over doctors who rated their own personal performance over the past six months at 8.17. Among nurses and doctors, females gave themselves a slightly higher rating for personal performance. 

Both nurses and doctors seem to experience the same level of frustration with administrative issues. For both professions (nurses and doctors), females reported feeling slightly more "blocked" and impacted by administrative issues.​

Work-life balance was rated higher by physicians, at 5.96, compared to 5.64 for nurses. In fact, physicians rated their work-life balance above the healthcare workforce rating of 5.87. Not surprisingly, female doctors and female nurses reported a lower level of work-life balance than male doctors and nurses. This is likely because many women still often shoulder the bulk of household and child-rearing duties, in addition to managing full-time careers.

Questions about turnover yielded some seemingly contradictory results. Nurses reported a higher likelihood of working for the same employer a year from now (8.36 to physicians' 8.01). However, nurses also indicated a slightly higher likelihood of leaving their employer for a ten percent raise (5.78 to physicians' 5.60).

Doctors and Nurses Rate Employers

Questions regarding the healthcare organizations and employers of nurses and doctors also produced mixed results which seemed contradictory at times.

For example, physicians gave their employers higher ratings on communication and being in touch with patients' needs. Conversely, physicians indicated a lower likelihood than nurses of doing business with their employer, if they were to find themselves in need of healthcare services.

Nurses feel that they have more professional growth (6.76) than doctors feel they do (6.08). However, despite that, physicians feel slightly more valued at work (6.45) than nurses do (6.25).

Additionally, men seem to feel better about the growth opportunities available to them. Male nurses rate professional growth opportunities much higher (7.14) than female nurses (6.72), and male doctors slightly higher than female doctors.

Interestingly, male nurses feel much more valued at work (6.81, compared to female nurses' rating of 6.18), but female doctors feel slightly more valued than male doctors. Perhaps because male nurses are in the minority, and female physicians are as well, they feel more valued because there are not as many of them in the workforce or candidate pool. 

Where Leadership Can Take Action 

According to the study, there are four areas of concern where leaders can take action to rectify possible problems with their staff:

Communication: Ensure open channels of communication between administration/leadership and patient caregivers. From providing clear direction and instruction to recognizing performance and a job well-done, communication is a key to maintaining a satisfied workforce.

Prevent Burn-Out: Be sure to moderate patient loads and offer a competitive compensation and benefits package, while maintaining a conducive, balanced schedule for the staff.

Organizational Effectiveness: You've hired great people, now make sure that you provide an environment that optimizes their strengths so that you can achieve the highest level of efficiency and effectiveness. 

Minimize Turnover: By keeping all of the above factors in check, this will help you prevent attrition within your workforce. This saves overhead/hiring costs and loss of productivity.

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