CQ Partners logo
Beat the Burnout Presentation

Beat the Burnout: Managing Stress in Hearing Healthcare

Beat the Burnout - Blog Banner
Don’t let burnout take over — beat it! Overwhelming feelings of stress, anxiety, and fatigue are becoming all too common in hearing healthcare. In fact, Beat the Burnout was the most attended class at Reconnect ’24! Not only can burnout have a major impact on your mental and physical well-being, but it can also lead to negative business outcomes. With the right strategies, however, you can identify the causes of burnout and support the mental health of both you and your staff. Keep reading to hear from CQ Account Manager, AJ Cauterucci, about his personal experiences with burnout and how he beat it!

Key Takeaways:

  • Signs of burnout include fatigue, isolation, procrastination, and unhealthy coping mechanisms.
  • Burnout appears in the workplace after experiencing an unmanageable workload and a lack of recognition.
  • Burnout can lead to poor business outcomes, like turnover and low productivity.
  • Self-care is important to avoid burnout.
  • A well-run daily huddle can be a solution to mitigate burnout.

What is burnout?

Burnout is a psychological syndrome emerging as a prolonged response to chronic interpersonal stressors on the job or in your everyday life. In other words, the more stress you take on, the greater chance you have of experiencing burnout. It leaves you in a state of complete emotional, physical, and psychological exhaustion.

What are the signs of burnout?

It’s important to recognize the signs of burnout so you can overcome them. It typically appears in three different categories:

Physical signs of burnout:

  • Fatigue
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Frequent illness
  • Weight changes
  • Hives or chronic condition flare-ups

Emotional signs of burnout:

  • Feeling defeated
  • Feeling isolated
  • A sense of failure
  • Self-doubt
  • Becoming burdened by the things you enjoy

Behavioral signs of burnout:

  • Withdrawing from social settings
  • Withdrawing from responsibilities
  • Procrastination
  • Unhealthy coping mechanisms like food and alcohol

When discussing the physical symptoms of burnout, I think about my own journey and the signs I saw in myself. I realized that I was tired all the time, and I couldn’t fall asleep at night because I’d lie awake thinking about the things I could’ve done differently at work. I also noticed that I started to get sick more and more frequently and I was ordering food delivery five to six times a week. It got to the point where I actually had hives, which was a very unpleasant experience.

On the emotional spectrum of burnout, I think about the experience of my girlfriend, Tara. Tara is a full-time ICU nurse in San Diego and as you can probably imagine, she really battled burnout throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. It was a very stressful experience for her and at the same time, she was going to school master’s degree. Tara was overloaded with work and the emotional signs of burnout began to hit her. She felt defeated and alone. She was doing her best and giving it her all, yet she had this sense of failure and self-doubt. She was accomplishing her goals, yet it all just felt like a burden to her. We both had to realize what was occurring, burnout, and take steps to take care of ourselves and better our mental health.

How does burnout appear in the workplace?

When figuring out how burnout appears in the workplace, the thing I think about first is workload. If you are working long hours and have little opportunity to rest and recover, or even just focus on something non-work related for a time, then you’re likely to become less efficient and effective throughout the day.

Lack of recognition is another common reason to spark burnout. Personally, recognition is my top motivator. If you’re managing employees, you know how time consuming and expensive it is to replace them, so if you have an employee that responds to recognition, accommodate them. If they’re doing a great job and setting the business up for success, let them know! If you’re not recognizing their efforts, they will feel like everything they do is for naught and might stop trying.

Another reason many of us may experience burnout is the lack of a sense of community in hearing healthcare. Many of us work in or own small businesses of just one to three people. If so, you might get the feeling that you’re alone and don’t have the support that bigger companies do. One of the things I personally love about CQ Partners is our sense of community. Practice owners and staff have access to amazing networking opportunities like Reconnect, owners’ meetings, and weekly teletrainings that help everyone come together and share their experiences and strategies for growth. Every meeting and call we facilitate is designed to give everyone in the practice a sense of support and community.

What are the outcomes of burnout in the workplace?

You can see a progression of outcomes in employees experiencing burnout.

  • Job dissatisfaction — you’re not as happy as you were when you first began your job. You’ve lost your “why.”
  • Absenteeism — you’re not showing up to work as much. Maybe you’re finding more reasons to leave early or come in late.
  • Quiet quitting — you’ve lost your organizational commitment. Even when you are at work, you’re mentally checked out. You have probably started to look for other opportunities.

What are strategies to mitigate burnout?

Taking intentional steps to reduce stress, manage your workload, and practice self-care can help you reduce the likelihood or severity of burnout. There are tools you can use both in the workplace and at home to help. These strategies can also help you mitigate burnout for your team.

Outside of the Workplace

Something that helped me overcome my struggle with burnout was promoting good health and fitness. If you can make a little bit of time, even just half an hour, try to focus on your physical health. Exercise reduces your stress hormones and stimulates endorphins, so it can greatly improve your mental well-being. Other areas to focus on are eating a well-balanced diet and getting the proper amount of quality sleep. You also went to try to develop health coping skills. I like to simply take a walk when I’m feeling stressed or overwhelmed. Putting on some music or a funny movie can help you get into a better mood and briefly focus on something other than work. Relaxation strategies like yoga, meditation, and deep breathing practiced on a regular basis have also been shown to decrease your stress and anxiety.

When you do feel yourself getting overwhelmed, it’s important to recognize that you are helping people hear better. As a hearing care provider, you get to change people’s lives in a really impactful way. Sometimes that reminder can help you to feel motivated and remind you to take pride in yourself.

In the Workplace

In the workplace, we need to focus on engagement to reduce burnout. We know that a lack of community, lack of control, and lack of social support can lead to burnout. What if we could mitigate that by implementing a couple strategies that don’t take up much time of your day, but lead to a fully engaged staff? One-on-ones and daily huddles are the solution.

In my experience, one-on-one meetings with my manager were what pulled me out of my burnout. If you are a mange, you have to dedicate time and energy to listening, offering and receiving feedback without bias, and building trust with your employees. By doing so, you create a safe work environment where employees can feel heard and bring new ideas to the table. You inspire the confidence to share thoughts, challenges, and innovations. You let people share their career goals and the skills they’re hoping to build.

What if we could invest 15 minutes of our day to have everyone rowing on the same boat? That’s where daily huddles come in. These discussions get everyone is moving in the same direction. Practice leaders, you can feel confident knowing that the staff understands expectations and they have a plan to make sure everything runs efficiently. Not everything needs to be on your shoulders. For staff, you’re given clear direction and control. You control your known outcomes, so you can have that feeling of reward every time you’re hitting your goals. You’re getting the job done and setting the clinic up for success, so using that 15 minutes a day for a daily huddle can really help you empower each other and avoid burnout.

Why is a daily huddle important in relation to burnout?

A daily huddle creates a team environment where we establish expectations and increase the communication in the practice. This leads to efficiency and productivity. You’re focusing on capturing, coordinating, and maximizing every opportunity appointment and that results in increasing the number of patients the practice helps. Ultimately this ends in more hearing aids sold and more revenue, allowing the business to be profitable and continue to do what you do in helping others throughout the community.

During the daily huddle, we focus on KPIs. What has happened over the last three days? What’s on the schedule for the next three days? Where do we have openings? We’ll look at your outbound calling strategy, discuss patients that have cancelled, and focus on all the ways we can help patients and bring success to the practice.

How does CQ help practices implement a daily huddle?

Daily huddles start with the clinic owners one-on-one meeting with the account manager to look over tracking, but getting the buy-in from the staff is also important. My first step is to talk it through with a clinic owner and then ultimately provide them with an outline of what they need, and what they should cover within it. From, there it’s on you. You have to make sure that you stick to this. Something we encourage to help you is block scheduling. When it comes to setting up that schedule, make sure you have the first 15 minutes of the day dedicated to setting yourself up for the rest of the day. On my weekly one-on-one meetings with you, I’ll check in to see how these huddles are going. We can follow it with your KPIs, and as soon as you see those improve, you’ll know that your efforts are worth it.

Whether you’re experiencing burnout yourself, or making sure your team is well cared for, it’s important to recognize the signs and take the necessary steps to manage your stress and overcome burnout. At CQ Partners, we know how difficult it can seem to accomplish your day-to-day while still reaching for your long-term goals, but we’re here to help. Reach out to us to see how we can make your life easier so you can help more people hear better.


About the Author

AJ Cauterucci

AJ Cauterucci joined CQ Partners in 2021 and served on the new business acquisition team. In 2023, AJ transitioned to an Account Manager, supporting our members on the West Coast. AJ holds a bachelor’s degree in business management from Iowa State University. With over 15 years of experience in medical sales and practice management, AJ brings valuable leadership experience to help guide hearing healthcare practice leaders in achieving their business goals.