Healthcare leadership and the illusion of transparency

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As we discussed last week, physician burnout is a pressing issue in healthcare right now. Doctors have cited a lack of recognition and appreciation as a contributing factor to the growing problem. Having a strategy in place for demonstrating appreciation might be more important than many healthcare leaders realize. 

 

A recent Harvard Business Review article cited the psychological phenomenon known as “the illusion of transparency” as a possible obstacle when it comes to expressing employee appreciation. “The illusion of transparency” refers to our tendency to overestimate the extent to which our feelings and mental states are known to others. The article suggested that employers often assume that their appreciation is known, while employees need tangible evidence of appreciation in order to feel valued.

 

For the past fifteen years, we’ve worked to build effective compensation programs for physicians. During this time, we’ve noticed that healthcare leaders often assume that their appreciation is inherently understood, and this is reflected in their compensation programs. There are creative strategies that can be used to turn compensation into a tangible expression of appreciation. 

 

Make it meaningful

Creative compensation isn’t about paying physicians more money. It’s about making their compensation more impactful in their lives. For example, our Call Pay Solution turns on-call compensation into a powerful retirement planning tool. Implementing the program communicates an organization’s desire to make sure that the burden of taking call is worthwhile for its physicians. 

 

Provide a platform for participation

When physicians participate in decision-making processes, they feel heard by their administration, and they’re given a sense of confidence that their compensation arrangements have been determined in a fair manner. Our Physicians’ Call Committee gives physicians a voice in the process of defining call compensation arrangements. It brings together representatives from a wide range of specialties and gives them an opportunity to share the realities of their call burdens. Providing a platform for participation and authentic transparency shows doctors that their point of view is valued and that it’s important to administration that their compensation properly reflects their workload. 

 

Account for physicians’ unique needs

It’s important to build compensation programs that take into account physicians’ unique financial situation. Due to regulations that limit the amount of money highly-compensated individuals can contribute to their qualified plans, it is difficult  for physicians to replace their income after retirement. And the more money a physician earns, the harder it becomes. By choosing to offer a benefit that will help physicians combat this reverse discriminationon, a hospital can demonstrate its desire to have a positive impact on the lives of its doctors. Our Physicians’ Advantage Plan provides a way for physicians to accumulate wealth on a pre-tax basis, giving them a way to supplement their qualified retirement plans. 

 

When physicians are dissatisfied, it often comes down to feeling disrespected and undervalued by their administration. Giving them the sense of appreciation they crave could be the key to preventing burnout and enhancing your working relationships.

 

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