Will 'quiet quitting' reach Israeli healthcare? -opinion

Workers understand the importance and significance of their jobs, and the need to dedicate themselves to helping patients in their hardest moments. But nothing lasts forever. 

 A healthcare professional prepares a dose of AstraZeneca (COVID-19) vaccine at the Narok County Referral Hospital, in Narok, Kenya, December 1, 2021. Picture taken December 1, 2021.  (photo credit: BAZ RATNER/REUTERS)
A healthcare professional prepares a dose of AstraZeneca (COVID-19) vaccine at the Narok County Referral Hospital, in Narok, Kenya, December 1, 2021. Picture taken December 1, 2021.
(photo credit: BAZ RATNER/REUTERS)

COVID-19 disrupted labor economics. The pandemic led many to rethink the significance of work in their lives.

Today, in the post-COVID era, workers are in high demand in many fields, changing jobs has become easier than ever and, in recent months, a new term was coined: “quiet quitting” – workers who decided to limit their work to their work description and refuse to work beyond long hours.

The quiet quitting has not reached the health system yet. Health workers in Israel bravely faced the many challenges of the COVID pandemic. Unlike a small yet noisy minority of workers in the hi-tech industry, which employs a total of 8% of the Israeli workforce, our health workers continue to invest in their work, day after day, unhindered by the exhaustion following over two years of facing a global health crisis.

These workers understand the importance and significance of their jobs, and the need to dedicate themselves to helping patients in their hardest moments. But nothing lasts forever. 

As the residents’ protest to shorten their 26-hour rotations shows, even the most dedicated health workers begin to draw a line in the sand about their willingness to sacrifice themselves and damage their own health for the health system. 

We, as health system executives, have an important role of protecting our workers, instilling their daily work with renewed content and meaning and listening to their aspirations for a work-life balance. Health system executives are limited in their ability to motivate their workers with higher pays, especially compared to what hi-tech companies can offer.

 Female doctor looking at x ray film of patient head injury while working with another doctor at the hospital. Medical healthcare staff and doctor service. (credit: INGIMAGE) Female doctor looking at x ray film of patient head injury while working with another doctor at the hospital. Medical healthcare staff and doctor service. (credit: INGIMAGE)

However, we can and should think outside the box and adopt innovative and creative ways of offering our workers the balance they seek between their important work and no-less-important private lives, thus vaccinating the health system against the spread of quiet quitting.

The COVID era fueled a fast adoption of new technologies into the health system, and significantly widened the importance of telemedicine services. These technologies improve the services given to patients and shorten waiting times for appointments for many medical services. 

Creative and innovative managerial thinking can harness these tools also towards the improvement of the working conditions of our health workers. 

New ways for healthcare professionals to thrive

Health system executives need to keep an open mind in the new employment era we are entering. The growing use of telemedicine services allows us to offer many of our workers, whether they are doctors or administrative workers, the possibility of flexible job models.

Hybrid jobs can give our health workers the freedom to do their online responsibilities in their preferred times, work part-time from home next to their families and find the right work-life balance that fits their personal needs. 

Today, it is our responsibility to clarify to our workers what is expected of their work and performance, but as long as they do their jobs as required from them, we shouldn’t care when and how long they are working. 

Today, and in the foreseeable future, working in the health system will remain highly meaningful yet full of challenges and pressures. To survive in such a job, one has to be dedicated to it and believe in its importance.

Adopting managerial flexibility and utilizing the technological changes to improve the working conditions of our health system will contribute significantly to limit the exhaustion that comes with working in such a stressful system and keeping workers going to work, day after day while remaining motivated and dedicated, and also happy and satisfied with their work conditions.

The writer is CEO of Femi, Israel’s largest telemedicine company, providing online and on-demand healthcare solutions that benefit patients where they choose: remotely, at home or in the clinic.