Acceleration Trap: How Organizations Burnout Too!

I have been watching companies inside and outside of healthcare burnout their employees and their organization with their incessant “so-called” need to pile on more projects, initiatives and extra day-to-day work on their already overworked workforce.  No one is getting a break or a breather and everyone from top to bottom of these organizations are stressed out because of the nonstop demands made on them and their departments.  I’m sure you can relate to this scenario at your own place of business.

Healthcare organizations are even more susceptible to what is called an “acceleration trap” due to the Obama mandates (i.e., value-based purchasing, 30-day readmission denials, accountability care organizations, IT “meaningful use” dictates and reduced Medicare reimbursement) that are pushing hospital workers to their limits.  We see this occurrence even in our own software, training and consulting practice where our healthcare clients are pushing us unremittingly to work even faster so they can keep up with their own accelerated pace.

I have seen the effects of this “acceleration trap” in my own family where my son-in-law ended up in the hospital because his Fortune 500 Company kept piling on work beyond his capability to meet their deadlines.  And my daughter-in-law just quit her job at a big pharma company since they had so many meetings on new projects she couldn’t get her day-to-day work done. She even took home her work at night, but still couldn’t keep up with the demands of her ever-increasing workload.  

The little known fact about this constant change in the workplace which is synonymous with overloading your workers to the point of confusion, frustration and burnout is that organizations that have a habit of doing so have lower productivity, substandard morale and higher turnover rates.   In effect, the “acceleration trap” harms an organization on many levels.

Organizations that figured this out have broken free from the “acceleration trap” by abandoning less-important initiatives to focus on one, two or three big goals each year. They also stop projects quickly if they see that they are of little value and then give their employees “a breather” after a big project has been achieved.

The big lesson here is that if your employees are pushed, pulled and beaten-up every day to give the same energy and effort on multiple big, small or minor, projects that are constantly changing, their efficiency will wane and your organizations performance will suffer. 

To avoid the “acceleration trap” you can begin by asking yourself and your managers what’s really important that you and they get done this week, month and year and what can be eliminated above all others.  This would be the first step in you and your organization breaking free from the “acceleration trap” which seems to be an epidemic in our industry.

Robert T. Yokl

Chief Value Strategist

Strategic Value Analysis® in Healthcare

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