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Published on May 1, 2024

Supporting a Positive Working Environment for Nursing Staff

The inadequate nursing levels in the US remain at a crisis point with a nationwide shortage. There are differing views on this, with many institutions saying there are not enough nurses to fill positions while some nurses suggest there are plenty of qualified nurses; organizations just don’t want to pay them, resulting in more leaving the field.

Nursing shortages can be harmful to both patients and the nurses themselves, with nurses skipping breaks, not eating enough, being unable to use the bathroom, and working longer shifts and more days, pushing them to the brink of exhaustion. In turn, this can lead to demoralized nursing staff under too much pressure to properly do the job they are trained for and love. After all, nursing is often seen as a vocation, not just a job, and those who perform this role do so because they want to and enjoy helping patients.

If improving your organization’s nursing staff and working environment is a priority, these tips to help you on the right path.

Fill Those Roles

As mentioned, staff shortages are detrimental to the care your current nurses and the nurses themselves can provide. Before making many other changes, you need to fill any vacant positions and bring all of your nursing staff in line with current pay, conditions, and benefits to make your organization the one they want to work for. Anything you use to onboard new hires needs to be offered to your existing staff to allow them to benefit from the same perks and wage levels as new nurses, and all pay structures should be based on experience and qualifications.

Improve Scheduling

Scheduling can often be challenging for any nurse as there needs to be a strict rota in place for organizations to provide the level of care required by staff. However, by using nursing staff scheduling software, you can improve shift pattern flexibility within roles and departments and ensure that you have the right people in the right places when needed, regardless of the care you offer. The better you can utilize your staff and redistribute them, the more efficient they will be able to work and the more improved your workplace will be.

Involve Nurses

If you are serious about improving, you must involve your nurses in decisions that directly affect them. Ask them to participate in committees that help improve standards and nursing care. For instance, a committee could address patient care, procedures, and policies impacting their work. Ask them for thoughts on safety in the workplace, patient safety, and workplace violence, for example, and provide them with autonomy to make decisions that improve patient care and not have to seek permission to make clinical decisions within the scope of their work and skill set.

Encourage Communication

Nurses need to communicate with each other to offer optimal care and ensure that everything is running smoothly. People often state that it’s the nurses who keep things running, and this is actually true. They are the ones on the ground making decisions and supporting patient care, and if they can’t communicate efficiently with each other, their patients, doctors, or reception staff, then you’re going to have major issues.

Encourage them to communicate effectively, offer communication training and troubleshooting to help them improve how they work and talk to each other, and encourage everyone the chance to voice their concerns and issues in a safe, comfortable, and welcoming environment.

On top of this, you also need to improve communication channels and how management communicates with nurses. There needs to be a reciprocal channel of communication in which information is shared freely and efficiently to avoid confusion or resentment in the workplace.

Employee Benefits

The more employees feel valued in the workplace, the more likely they are to stay with you, and the better they will perform day in and day out. While you need to start with creating a healthy workplace culture for your nurses, offering benefits will also sweeten the deal. Childcare services, additional paid-for training to boost their skills or specialize in niche nursing areas, paid time off, 401K, pension, health insurance, cross-training programs, paid maternity leave, volunteer days, and access to wellness programs and mental health support are all great non-salary benefits to offer your nursing staff and help them feel appreciated and valued in the workplace.

Advocate for Career Development

There are so many ways you can support your nursing staff to be at the top of their game, but by allowing them to develop their careers, you can invest in them and your facility to offer the best care possible. The more your staff know and can do, the better service you can provide. Whether you have nurses looking to go into management or more administrative roles such as HR, or they want to specialize in more specific areas such as neonatal nursing, end-of-life nursing, or working with those with specific illnesses or health conditions such as cardiac nurse, nursing for cystic fibrosis or psychiatric nursing, support their career goals and training and advocate for them to branch out and push themselves for increased career satisfaction.

Recognize Hard Work

While nursing might be a vocation, and they do this work because they love it and enjoy helping people, it doesn’t mean they need it to fade into the background. Acknowledging good work and rewarding it can help you to create a positive working environment and one in which people know they are valued. If you want to improve nursing workplace culture, then recognizing a good job or hard work being put in to make improvements is vital, and feeding this back to those involved will help you to make people feel more positive about working for you.

Whether you simply thank them and let them know you are aware of their work and appreciate it or offer incentives, bonuses, or rewards for outstanding work is entirely up to you. The key is to identify instances of a job well done and push for a more positive working environment. This will help you stay on track.

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