Staff burnout in the health and social care sectors is a major factor in the wellbeing crisis affecting nursing and other healthcare professions. Long hours, heavy workloads and stretched resources are all contributing to unprecedented levels of stress, anxiety and burnout among staff. Workload and working conditions have a huge effect on nurses’ happiness and motivation. According to the Royal College of Nursing’s most recent Employment Survey, found that 74.1% of nurses surveyed are working beyond their contracted hours at least once a week, with 61.5% saying that those extra hours left them feeling unable to provide the level of patient care they would like.
The survey also found that over three quarters of nurses reported working whilst unwell and nearly 67% said that they had worked while experiencing illness related to stress and 27% had continued to work while suffering from mental health issues. Because of a perceived lack of support and work intensification many nurses are considering leaving the profession all together. As managers we need to do more to improve our nurses’ wellbeing to support individual health, team dynamics and organisational success.
The value of employee wellbeing
Developing a positive workplace culture and supporting employee wellbeing initiatives isn’t just good news for your staff. Doing so can also have a huge impact on retention and the ability to bring in fresh talent. Here are some of the biggest benefits of healthier, happier nursing staff:
A more inclusive culture
Supporting the different challenges your staff might face makes your workplace a more open, inclusive, and accepting space.
- Greater productivity and better patient outcomes
More engaged employees who are happier and more present are less likely to make mistakes and affect the quality of patient care.
- Better employee morale and engagement
67% of employees who work for organisations with wellness programmes say they like their jobs more because of the wellbeing support
- Increased employee retention
45% of employees say they would stay at their jobs longer if their employers offered better wellbeing support
- Lower rates of absenteeism
Healthy, happy staff means fewer days lost to sickness and absence. Investing in health can also reduce the number of staff engaging in presenteeism, that is working while ill.
- Greater staff attraction
60% of employees would recommend their workplace if they felt their employer was taking steps to support mental wellbeing.
5 ways you can support your nurses’ health and wellbeing at work
How can management support health and wellbeing in a way that brings the most benefits to your nurses and to your business? Try these five strategies:
1. Invest in wellness planning
Wellness action plans can be a great resource for nurses, but it’s important not to position mental wellbeing planning as an extra piece of work they need to complete. Wellness plans work like risk assessments for stress, helping you identify problems and implement solutions before things get out of hand. Take an organisational approach and sit down with your nurses one on one to develop individual wellness plans that consider business needs alongside their personal circumstances.
2. Encourage open communication
Your nursing team themselves should be your first port of call to discover what steps need to be taken to improve their wellbeing. Provide plenty of opportunities for your nurses to give you open and honest feedback and suggestions. Above all commit to acting on this feedback and gathering responses to your improvements. These feedback loops will help you to create a continually-improving environment.
3. Prioritise wellbeing and model healthy behaviours
Make wellness a central element of your culture by prioritising it everywhere. Encourage staff to take their allocated breaks and holidays, provide healthy snacks and drinks, make space for wider discussions surrounding work-life balance or offer quiet spaces for reflection, meditation or just relaxation.
Senior nursing and admin staff should also be modelling healthy behaviours for their teams. That means you need to practice what you preach! Take your holidays, don’t eat at your desk, and have conversations with others about wellbeing and other ways you support your mental, emotional, and physical health.
4. Secure buy-in from senior stakeholders and members of staff
A positive workplace culture that emphasises the value of nurses’ mental, emotional, and physical health can only be achieved with the full engagement and support of every staff member, from senior management and stakeholders all the way down to the nurses themselves.
When senior staff are fully committed to the idea it becomes easier to implement new policies and procedures and encourages nurses to prioritise their well-being with the full support of the organisation.
5. Monitor schedules and workloads
In healthcare there are always seasonal peaks and holiday cover to consider, but nobody should regularly be expected to sustain heavy workloads or unhealthy hours. Doing so can be dangerous not only for an individual nurse’s wellbeing but also patient care. Make sure you regularly review workloads and keep a close eye on scheduling. Many high-demand periods can be planned and budgeted for allowing you to bring on board temporary help.
It can be useful to build a relationship with a specialist staffing agency like Vetro so you can ensure you have the right levels of staffing to reduce workloads and access temporary nursing staff when you need to.
Access temporary and permanent nursing staff quickly and easily with Vetro
Whether you are looking for temporary nursing support or searching for exceptional permanent nursing staff we can help. We support NHS hospitals, secure forensic services, nursing homes, CAMHS, and rehabilitation services, helping them find the nurses they need and at Vetro we put safeguarding at the heart of our nursing recruitment service meaning you can be sure the nurses we work with are fully compliant.
If you are having trouble with staff absences or need help in attracting skilled nursing professionals in your region we can help.