The American Nurses Association defines a Healthy Work Environment as three things:
While these terms may seem simple to define, they may have different meanings to different people. We must ask our co-workers how they define these terms so we can have a better understanding of what a Health Work Environment means to them.
American Association of Critical-Care Nurses lists 6 ways to establish and maintain a Healthy Work Environment:
1. Skilled Communication
Just because we communicate everyday does not mean that we are proficient at it. We must constantly be improving our written and verbal communication skills. Have you ever told someone to do something and then they did something completely different than you asked? Well, it may be the way it was communicated. This would be an opportunity to look at how we communicated and assess how we could have communicated it better to achieve the outcome we expected.
2. True Collaboration
Working a 12 hour shift we probably work with numerous different departments. For example, we work with pharmacy when we call them about a missing medication, we work with the blood bank when blood is ordered, and we work with case management upon patient discharge. Just because we work with different departments does not mean that we collaborate with them. Working with and collaboration are two entirely different things. As nurses, we must seek out ways to collaborate with one another and other departments.
3. Effective Decision Making
All nurses at any level of the healthcare organization should be able to influence positive change on the unit level and/or hospital-wide level. We need to ask to be involved in the decision making process.
4. Appropriate Staffing
Healthcare organizations have the responsibility to ensure appropriate staffing to balance patient safety and nurse competency.
5. Meaningful Recognition
All nurses should have the chance to be recognized and respected. While it is important that we get recognized for the good work we do, we must also find ways to recognize those we collaborate with. People may like to be recognized differently so it is important that we know the way they perceive recognition. Some people may just want a simple “thank you” or “good work.” Others may want a certificate or award. If you don’t have one already, start a recognition team in your department and develop creative ways to recognize each other.
6. Authentic Leadership
There is a difference between a manager/supervisor and a leader. There is also a difference in being a co-worker and being a leader. Which one are you? Being able to lead and inspire someone takes openness and honesty.
For example: Turing patients every 2 hours
From a manager/supervisor: “Turn your patient every 2 hours. If you read your emails, you have already seen the memo from administration about this new mandatory policy.”
From a leader: “Here on our unit and at our hospital, we strive to deliver the best patient outcomes and one way we are going to accomplish this is by turning our patients every 2 hours to prevent bedsores.”
Which one sounds better?
Health Work Environments are possible to attain. We just have to be dedicated and passionate to make it happen.