Unhappy employees not only put a strain on workplace morale, they are also financially draining their organizations. Dissatisfied staff can easily slide down a slippery slope of disengagement and decreased productivity, impacting their quality of life and having costly consequences for their employer – including turnover.
As the shortage of healthcare professionals continues to loom over provider organizations, turnover not only impacts their bottom line, it also affects their delivery of patient care. For that reason, hospital leadership should keep a pulse on their employee satisfaction.
While there are several factors that may play into an employee’s level of job satisfaction, there are often items that are within an employer’s realm of control that can drastically improve the situation for the staff member and organization.
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 manageable by an employer.
A major driver of staff dissatisfaction is working a shift that did not have the right amount or mix of resources. When resources are short for any shift, it results in increased use of contingency staffing, including core staff in extra and overtime, resource pool and agency usage, and/or charge nurses taking patients. In short, core staff is stretched too thin to cover these vacant shifts, causing frustration and burning them out.
The heavy workload that many RNs are experiencing can often be eased if provider organizations take a hard look at their staffing and scheduling practices. While the nursing shortage is a very real concern, many health systems are shocked to learn that their scheduling practices are often perpetuating the problem.
A nursing unit that feels they are constantly running short staffed could be a result of not utilizing their available resources appropriately, instead of being severely understaffed like they believe. Establishing the proper size of core staff per unit and scheduling staff to patient volume help reduce instances of cancellations or nurses in extra or overtime – circumstances that frustrate staff if it occurs frequently. Developing appropriate contingency layers is an important strategy that enables resources to flex up and down with sudden changes in patient volume or staff behaviors like call-ins.
Strategies and tools that help plan and adjust staffing needs are valuable resources a health system can implement to effectively improve staff utilization. Scheduling software fueled by predictive analytics accurately forecasts patient volume up to 120 days in advance of the shift. Having greater clarity into future staffing needs allows for resources to be utilized appropriately, ensuring the right person is in the right place at the right time.
Because nurses are already at a high risk for burnout due to the long hours and physical and emotional demands of the profession, health systems 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.
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 support their nurses and nurture their well-being not only keep their staff happy, but positively impact the care they provide to patients.