Each year, the American Nurses Association declares a week of appreciation for the dedicated providers in the nursing field. 2017’s National Nurses Week is May 6-12, and this year’s theme, “Nursing: The Balance of Mind, Body, and Spirit” promotes the health and well-being of these devoted caregivers. Provider organizations can support this initiative by taking steps to ensure their workplace is positive and enjoyable.
All employers should be concerned with their level of staff satisfaction in the workplace. Impacting their quality of life, unhappy employees can easily slide down a slippery slope of disengagement and decreased productivity, often resulting in turnover for an organization.
As we know, turnover can have costly consequences for an employer. For provider organizations facing the current nursing shortage, turnover not only impacts their bottom line, it also affects their delivery of care. For that reason, hospital leadership should be keyed in on their employees’ satisfaction.
There are many factors that may play into an employee’s level of satisfaction with their job. For an organization to focus on what they can do to improve the workplace environment for nurses, they must look for items that are measurable and trackable. Staffing and scheduling often ranks high as an area that impacts staff satisfaction, and is within an employer’s realm of control.
Vacancy rate is a major driver in staff satisfaction. An increase in vacancy rates results in increased contingency staffing, including core staff in extra and overtime, float pool and agency usage, and charge nurses taking patients. In short, core staff is stretched too thin to cover these vacant shifts, causing frustration and burning them out.
Strategies and tools that help plan and adjust staffing needs are valuable resources a provider organization can implement to effectively improve staff utilization. Scheduling software fueled by predictive analytics forecasts patient volumes, highlighting staffing needs weeks in advance. This clarity of needs across the organization identifies areas of under or over staffing, allowing the deployment of resources to be adjusted in real-time.
Establishing the proper size of core staff per unit helps reduce instances of cancellations or nurses in extra and overtime – circumstances that frustrate staff. The development of contingency layering enables resources to flex up and down with sudden changes in patient volume or staff behaviors, like call-ins.
As nurses are already at high risk for burnout due to the long hours and physical and emotional demands of the job, provider organizations are encouraged to do what they can to maintain positive staff satisfaction. Nurses who feel appreciated for the work they do, are supported, and have access to the resources they need are able to provide better patient care than those who may feel frustrated and overworked.
The nursing field draws a certain type of person and requires a particular level of patience and altruism. Nurses love what they do and most selected this career path from an early age or through a personal experience that impacted their decision to become a nurse. For many, being a nurse is more than just a job – it’s a part of who they are. Employers who appreciate the value in what nurses do and nurture their well-being not only keep their staff happy, but positively impact the care they provide to patients.