HR and Nursing leaders know the effects of unhappy employees: disengagement, decreased productivity, and ultimately, turnover. Disconcerted staff are not only a financial strain on the organization, but they are also emotionally draining – disrupting team morale and possibly decreasing quality of care. While keeping employees happy may seem like an impossible task, there are steps an organization can take to make sure morale says positive and employees are engaged.
Here are five things you can do to help ensure your staff members are happy:
Setting clear expectations through standardization
It is very common to walk into a hospital or health system and find staffing and scheduling practices varying unit to unit, and even shift to shift. This sets up an ideal climate for chaos right out of the gate. Organizations should have standardized practices that are consistently applied across all departments and should be well communicated to all staff. Employees respond favorably to clear expectations and managers that hold their staff accountable to them. Standardized policies and practices also helps facilitate the ideology that the hospital functions as one cohesive team and not fragmented entities.
Adopt an enterprise staffing culture
Tied to the point above, aligning practices across the organization fuels an enterprise staffing mentality. Hospitals have become conditioned to operating in silos – functioning as “every unit for themselves.” This not only increases an organization’s labor costs, but also creates barriers between units and generates issues when circumstances call for employees to be floated off their home base. If expectations are set from the beginning that staff are a shared resource and will help out all areas in which they are competent, it creates the mentality that the organization is one team working together in the best interest of the patient.
Ensuring your unit is staffed appropriately
While it might sound odd at first, right-sized staffing is one of the greatest factors contributing to staff satisfaction. Staff who are constantly working extra hours or overtime, or being cancelled are quickly going to become burned out and disengaged. Organizations can assess their staffing levels and make sure they have the right resource layering that is appropriate for each unit. While there is no perfect number or ratio of core and contingency resources, each unit should have a mix that allows for core to consistently work up to their FTE commitment with minimal extra hours and overtime. Contingency resources should fill the gaps once all core staff have been scheduled. Finding the right balance of resources will significantly improve the level of staff satisfaction.
Offering a variety of scheduling methods for staff
Individuals working in healthcare like to have a feeling of being in control. And newer generations of nurses appreciate being able to balance their work life with their personal life. With advancements in technology, organizations can offer a variety of scheduling methods for staff while still meeting patient demand. Self-scheduling, open shift management, and mobile technology are ways organizations can enhance user experience and let employees pick up shifts when it fits into their schedule.
Stop seeking consensus for everything
As leaders, we want to make our employees happy, and that often means listening to a variety of opinions. It’s only natural then that when faced with a decision that could bring about significant change, we want to gather opinions in hopes of reaching a consensus before a decision is made. This is a rabbit hole that many managers fall into and typically does not result in a positive outcome. Seeking consensus inevitably means that some people’s ideas were not accepted, which can cause them to be unhappy.
The reality is that a manager cannot bend to make everyone happy all the time. One of the tasks of leadership is to make those tough decisions – no matter how popular or unpopular they may be. Once a decision is made, it should be clearly communicated to all staff with an emphasis on why the change is occurring and how individual accountability leads to organizational success.