3 Ways to Create a Positive Work Environment for Nurses

The pandemic may be over, but the healthcare industry — and long-term care facilities in particular — have continued to struggle to source and hire the nursing talent they need to provide the best patient outcomes.

Predictions from the United States Health Resources & Services Administration project that there will be a shortage of 63,720 full-time registered nurses by 2030, compounded by a shortage of 141,580 full-time licensed practical nurses by 2035.

What’s causing these qualified workers to leave the healthcare industry?

In short: caregiver burnout. Studies have shown that there are prevalent mental health struggles reported by nurses weathering the ongoing nursing shortage. These issues, in turn, lead to higher turnover rates. In fact, only one-third of respondents indicated that they wanted to stay in the nursing profession, while about a quarter said they plan to exit the industry in one to two years.

In order to keep top talent on your team, you need to focus on taking care of your staff so they can provide better outcomes for your patients.

3 ways to take care of your nursing staff

Caring for your staff doesn’t have to be complicated. Below, we’ve outlined three ways you can create a workplace culture that supports your staff and allows them to bring their best selves to work every day.

Encourage them to work with their friends

Working in the healthcare field comes with a lot of stress — but compound that with the ongoing nursing shortage, and the workplace becomes a source of anxiety. One way you can take care of your nursing staff is by turning your long term care facility into a work environment that they want to work at by encouraging them to work with their friends.

Good people typically know good people. All you have to do is set up an employee referral program to tap in your employees’ existing networks of former colleagues, friends, and family members. After that, take your time to feel out the referred candidates and, if you decide to hire any of them, be sure to pay the employee who referred them on time and in the amount you promised. In the long run, this recruitment strategy helps administrators take care of their nursing staff by contributing to a better workplace culture between team members.

Give them the time they need to recharge

Healthcare workers have been on the frontlines for quite a while; they know better than anyone how to pour from an empty cup so they can care for patients. Between rushing from one patient to the next, skipping bathroom breaks, and scarfing down snacks as quickly as possible, healthcare professionals barely have time to breathe. This ongoing adrenaline and demanding schedule can wear down even the most resilient nurses — which is why it’s so important to give your team the time they need to recharge.

When you offer additional PTO or mental health days, you’re not just giving your workers a day off: you’re giving them permission to take that deep breath that they’ve been holding. Giving your employees the time during the week to do what they need to do outside of work allows them to come into your facility with a clear mind, ready to take on their duties. But if they’re distracted from lack of rest, worrying about when they’ll have time to cross tasks off their personal to-do lists, you run the risk of impacting your patient outcomes. You can also let employees have more say on their schedule so they can have the flexibility that most healthcare job seekers want from their employers.

Open the door for regular feedback

No one knows your team better than they do — so be sure to ask them what you can do to help take care of them. Studies have shown that even when employers provide access to mental health resources, staff are unlikely to use the materials available to them. If you feel like you’re putting effort into taking care of your employees but you’re not seeing any change in morale, take the time to solicit feedback from your team.

Ideally, you want to gather commentary from every step of the employee lifecycle so you can take a more holistic approach to solving the issue. While you’ll likely receive a vast array of responses, honing in on similar threads can help you take better care of your teammates. Plus, be sure to include the changes you make based on this feedback into your job descriptions since there’s likely job seekers on the market looking for what you’re offering.

Taking care of your facility’s healthcare team starts with the way you recruit new talent, how well you listen to your existing team, and how often you let your employees pour into their own cups so they can provide the best care for their patients. To see how the right applicant tracking system can help your facility recruit and retain the right people, schedule a demo today! 

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