There’s no doubt that healthcare workers have endured a lot over the past few years between the pandemic and staff shortages. What is often overlooked has been the threats to their physical safety: healthcare workers are five times more likely to be physically attacked than those in other industries.
"Many of our co-workers have left, and more are considering leaving as we continue to endure the emotional toll of the pandemic and a sense that our safety is not protected at work."
We conducted a survey to understand what’s happening with safety in the workplace across all kinds of frontline roles – healthcare, retail, consumer banking and more – and the emotional toll it takes on these workers. When we looked at healthcare workers specifically, the data reveals a worrying reality: more than three-quarters (79%) of healthcare workers said they experienced a security incident in the last year. Their biggest safety concern on the job? Aggressive or erratic behavior among patients.
Despite these threats and risks, many healthcare organizations have lagged in addressing safety. More than half (53%) of healthcare workers said their employers have made no improvements to security measures in the past year.
This lagging investment in security has real implications for healthcare employers who are already struggling to attract and retain talent: 54% of healthcare workers said they will likely resign in the next 12 months if conditions don't improve.
It's clear that healthcare employers must take action. Here are two things leaders at hospitals and healthcare providers should keep in mind:
Prioritize communication and visibility. More than half (63%) of the workers we polled said that the more security measures that are in place at work, the safer they feel. As you invest in security and safety measures, make sure that you’re also investing in training and communicating how they can use these new tools – whether it’s how to use new panic buttons installed bedside or visitor screening.
Listen to your team. When we talked to frontline workers broadly, we found a clear disconnect between workers and their managers: 67% of leaders and managers said they thought their direct reports felt safe at work. But when we asked frontline workers, just 37% agreed. Before healthcare employers can truly address the safety issues facing their workers, they must first truly listen and understand what’s happening on a daily basis.