In February 2013, U.K. doctors and researchers published a study finding the happier a hospital’s staff is, the more quality care provided. If you work in a hospital or have a degree in nursing education, you won’t find this to be a surprising observation, considering how stressful working in the medical field is. If the staff is calm and tackles challenges with a focused, positive mindset, fewer mistakes are made and the patients feel more comfortable. Four simple steps can ensure a happier hospital staff.
The simplest way to ensure everyone on your staff is happy is to ask them. Rather than sit in a room with other supervisors and decide what’s best for everyone else, involve the staff in new decisions. Supervisors should be open and friendly, and willing to hear about work problems. They should encourage any staff member to not only approach them with problems, but with suggestions for solutions.
You should encourage openness, but recognize some people may be afraid of admitting there’s a problem. If those issues aren’t addressed, you can’t have a happy and productive staff. Have a suggestion box where people can make anonymous comments and then you can address the entire staff.
Keeping a hospital staff happy isn’t as simple as one single effort to get everyone’s feedback and discuss possible solutions, although that’s a start. New issues arise and proposed solutions don’t always work as planned. Regularly examine everyone’s feedback.
While you should still be open to suggestions daily, it can be difficult in a hectic hospital environment to make time every day for issues. Set a weekly or monthly date for a regular check-in. While not everyone can attend since the hospital needs working staff at all times, you should make it so every department is adequately represented. If the staff knows their issues will be addressed on a regular basis, they’ll be more willing to discuss them.
Praise the Individual’s Strengths
Getting feedback is important, but giving it is as important when it comes to your staff’s motivation. Habitually review each employee’s performance individually and focus on their strengths. Let them know why they’re integral to the hospital and how they can use their strengths to make the team function better.
If there are any things you’d like to see an employee improve, be clear about how you expect them to improve. However, don’t forget to praise them. As the Harvard Business School explains, it’s essential you motivate and not demotivate your employees; act like a coach and not a dictator.
Keep Work Schedules Regular
Working at a hospital is rewarding, but it’s also extremely demanding. Most staff members know hospitals are open 24/7, year-round, but that doesn’t mean every staff member wants to be available to work those hours. If possible, give as many employees as you can regular hours unless they sign up to be a substitute. It’s beneficial for patients to see the same staff members at the same time each day as well.
On the other hand, emergencies do come up and you have to account for vacation days. Allow for flex room in your hospital’s staff schedule to accommodate. Rely on substitutes for days where a regular calls in sick or requests the day off, but make the situation less stressful for the substitutes by letting them know ahead of time when they may be on call. For example, you could have a nurse on call for the night shift Mondays through Thursdays and not have her on call for Fridays through Sundays.
Ensuring a happier staff at a hospital may be as simple as welcoming feedback and suggestions from everyone, meeting regularly to address issues, treating staff as individuals and praising their strengths, and keeping schedules as regular as possible with room for flexibility. Overall, the key to a happier staff is communication. Address potential problems early, before they become greater issues. You’ll find the result is a less stressful work environment.
About the Author: Hidemi Fukuoka is a contributing writer and hospital nursing supervisor. She’s witnessed an improvement in her staff’s productivity after she began providing and receiving regular feedback.