(Editor’s Note: Today’s post is brought to you by our friends at Kronos, a leading provider of workforce management and human capital management cloud solutions. For the third consecutive year, Forbes has named Kronos one of America’s Top 15 Places to Work in technology. Congratulations to Kronos! Enjoy the post.)
While this blog tends to talk about employees in general, we have shared in the past some insights about specific industries such as restaurants and public service. Today we’re going to talk about health care. Specifically, nursing. Because nursing affects everyone.
Earlier this month was National Nurses Week, which we’ve written about before. Kronos recently conducted a survey of nursing professionals titled “Employee Engagement in Nursing” to find out how they handle the on-the-job stress. The results are interesting and noteworthy.
Nurses are Committed to Their Profession
The survey results indicated that 90 percent of nurses are satisfied with the work they do. That’s really good news. I think we all realize nursing is a difficult job. And keep in mind there are two types of nursing jobs. The first is the one we traditionally think of in hospitals and doctor’s offices. The other is in corporate settings and other non-hospital employers.
The downside of a nurse’s tremendous commitment to their work is stress and burnout. The survey shared a few of the reasons that nurses are fatigued on the job:
- Increased shifts and workload (60%)
- Skipping meals and breaks (42%)
- Not being able to leave work on time (21%)
Add to those findings that 44 percent of nurses say their manager doesn’t know how tired they are and 43 percent hide how tired they are from their managers. Not good. Managers aren’t able to help alleviate stress and fatigue when they don’t know it exists.
This dynamic of managers not knowing that their employees are tired and stressed should make hospitals very concerned. More than eighty percent (80%) of registered nurses would consider jobs outside of a hospital because it offers better work-life balance.
Four Ways Organizations Can Engage Nurses
Organizations that employ nurses need to consider adding programs and policies that will reduce stress and fatigue in the workplace. Four suggestions that surfaced in the survey are:
Improved Scheduling. This includes shift swaps, self-scheduling, and flexible shift lengths between eight and 12 hours. More than half (55 percent) of nurses surveyed said that gaining more control over their schedules would be the top factor to reducing work fatigue.
More rest breaks. Organizations need to make sure that they are properly staffed so nurses can take breaks. In addition, managers need to make sure that employees actually take their breaks. It might not seem like a 10- or 15- minute break is much, but research has shown taking breaks makes employees happier and more productive.
Wellness programs. Employee wellness is a business issue. Today’s wellness programs include features like nap rooms, Uber/Lyft rides when employees work late, and counseling. And if you’re wondering about the return-on-investment, a Mercer study cites a correlation between wellness programs and bottom-line performance.
Better employee-manager relations. Managers touch each of the first three things – scheduling, breaks, and wellness. While we’re not implying that managers are to blame, organizations need to create an environment where managers are empowered to handle these issues without question.
It’s Time to Care for Caregivers
The good news is that nurses are satisfied and inspired by their career choice. Given today’s labor market, organizations understand the challenge in recruiting and retaining such dedication.
Susan Reese, DNP, MBA, RN, CPHIMS, director of Kronos’ healthcare practice group, summed the survey findings up perfectly. “What this survey shows us is that it’s time to care for the caregivers. It also confirms what we instinctively know – nurses are compassionate, hardworking professionals who love what they do. This is the crux of employee engagement and it’s hard to achieve if employees are fatigued. Nurses today want more control over their schedules along with additional breaks, health and wellness programs, and better overtime management. These benefits will ultimately help nurses, patients, and hospitals.”
Hospitals and health systems need to invest more in nurturing and retaining nurses. It’s time to engage them by increasing their emotional commitment toward their employers’ goals. Because when nurses are engaged and healthy, everyone wins.
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