Increasing Nursing Workforce Engagement

September 8, 2022 Kimberly Anderson-Mutch

Increasing nursing workforce engagement

Employee engagement in the healthcare field has been a topic of study for several years, and the COVID-19 pandemic has added new stressors to healthcare workers. Long shifts, understaffed facilities, and low communication levels contribute to burnout and decreased involvement. Work engagement in nursing is an essential metric for improving retention rates and ensuring staff satisfaction. 

Healthcare facility managers need to improve workforce engagement. Healthcare facilities can encourage more involvement from nurses with focused attention from leadership, feedback from staff, and an all-in approach to making advancements. These improvements can positively impact nurse satisfaction and patient care outcomes.

What Is Workforce Engagement in Nursing?

To manage their workforce efficiently, nurse managers should consider improving employee engagement. Workforce engagement in nursing is the degree to which nurses' daily work inspires and engages them. Employee engagement is more complicated than job satisfaction, as it involves several factors like workplace camaraderie and commitment to the company.

A study from the National Institutes of Health demonstrated that greater nursing engagement results in a host of benefits for staff and patients.

  • More personalized patient care: When nurses feel motivated to perform their best at all times, they are more likely to provide personalized care for each patient.
  • Greater job satisfaction: There is a direct correlation between high engagement and increased job satisfaction among nurses.
  • Improved cost of care: When patients receive more personalized care, their health improves faster. Better patient outcomes also lower the healthcare facility's cost of care.
  • Lower turnover: Nurse burnout and turnover rates both decreased with higher engagement. 

Nurse engages with an elderly patient

High workforce engagement creates positive outcomes, but facilities struggle to engage nurses to improve retention rates. One survey found that nurses in 25% of hospitals reported being "somewhat" or "least" engaged in their work. In another study, only 48% of healthcare executives perceived high engagement among nurses, while 8% thought engagement was low. 

How to Increase Nurse Engagement

Nurse managers and facility administrators have an outstanding opportunity to improve nursing engagement. However, before you can begin addressing workforce engagement issues, the administration must be on board with finding practical solutions. Effective workforce management involves creating employee programs, managing schedules, and tracking attendance to optimize engagement. 

Consider the following nursing employee engagement ideas to improve involvement at your facility.

1. Prioritize Feedback

It is vital to develop a system for communicating about operations to access your nursing staff's full experience and talent. In the NIH study, more engaged nurses were more likely to discuss strategies for preventing error and reported feeling comfortable questioning hospital authority. The study concluded that higher levels of nursing engagement and better nurse-to-patient ratios consistently correlated with favorable patient safety ratings. 

Encourage accountability by setting clear expectations, so staff members know how to meet key performance indicators. Schedule times to provide employees with feedback and encourage their work while helping them find ways to improve. It is also vital to collect input from nurses. Conducting regular employee engagement surveys can make nurses feel heard and seen when they experience issues. 

After you gather feedback, evaluate it closely and address the issues. You can also involve nurses directly in the decision-making process by encouraging them to voice their opinions to leadership. Developing a culture of constant communication is critical to increasing engagement. 

2. Cultivate a Positive Environment

Nursing can be emotionally draining work that receives little recognition. Nurture a positive work environment that allows social connection, collaboration, and even fun. Define your facility's core values and emphasize its mission. You can also create department-specific values to unite teams around shared goals. Modeling common values can help get nurses connected to the principles they share with the company. 

Another way to encourage positivity is to plan company social events between departments. Spending time together outside work can be an excellent way to strengthen relationships among the staff and improve their commitment to the facility. Schedule outings and provide volunteer opportunities to get nurses involved. 

3. Encourage Self-Care

Physically and emotionally demanding jobs can cause fatigue and exhaustion. In a survey from the American Nurses Foundation, more nurses reported feeling exhausted, overwhelmed, and irritable than any other emotions. Encouraging your employees to care for their mental and physical health can go a long way toward improving their satisfaction and performance. 

Regular exercise boosts overall well-being and can improve job performance, too. Some healthcare facilities offer incentivized programs to encourage nurses and staff to work out at a nearby gym before or after work. Provide wellness perks to promote fitness and launch company-sponsored support or counseling for emotional issues nurses frequently experience, like trauma and compassion fatigue. 

4. Engage Leadership

If you're wondering how to improve nursing engagement, the first place to look may be the top. A facility's leadership is crucial to encouraging staff motivation. A lack of senior leader visibility leads to decreased engagement from nurses and other staff. When nurses believe their senior leaders are unaware of daily operations, they can feel undervalued.

Executives and leaders can promote vertical engagement by visiting departments and engaging with nurses at social events. Leadership must engage with employees more often than during evaluations or feedback meetings. Nurses benefit from positive interaction and communication with administration, and leadership can also develop a better understanding of a nurse's perspective. 

5. Provide Training

Ongoing career development can improve workforce engagement by demonstrating to nurses that the administration values their professional skills and expertise. Continuous learning opportunities allow nurses to take control of their careers. Implement continuing education programs to help nurses develop skills outside their daily operations. A program could include classes in hospital management or an extended advancement program for nurses who want to change departments. 

In today's technology-driven society, long-term care facilities and hospitals constantly update their software to keep up with a faster pace of work. Frequent changes in computer systems can be overwhelming to many nurses. When implementing new software, provide nurses with complete training and user support to become comfortable with the program. 

6. Recognize Achievement

Recognition is a crucial tool leaders can use to improve employee morale and increase commitment to the company. Implementing a rewards program can improve employee retention and job satisfaction. 

Recognize achievements in productivity and involvement. Your facility can implement a rewards program to incentivize activities like participating in shared governance and attending events. You can also show your appreciation and encourage staff members to do the same by launching an award nomination program that allows nurses to recognize one another for hard work. Regular contests, meals, and snacks for special occasions can effectively celebrate wins. 

7. Optimize Workflow

Long, understaffed shifts can be draining for nurses. To optimize your staff's time at work, improve scheduling to ensure adequate coverage for all shifts. Consider limiting overtime and shift lengths. Schedule-optimizing software can let nurses view and claim open shifts, track pay stubs, and more. When possible, it may also be helpful to allow nurses input into their scheduling. Scheduling practices like these can give nurses greater autonomy.

Nurses perform various tasks throughout the day, and they shouldn't have to waste their efforts and energy on time-consuming busy work. Automate whatever you can to give nurses more time to perform higher-quality work. Workforce management software can take unnecessary burdens off employees and streamline daily processes to improve workflow. 

Optimize nursing workflow with SmartLinx

Optimize Nursing Workflow With SmartLinx

Even in a challenging work environment, workforce engagement can significantly improve a nurses' experience and satisfaction with their work. SmartLinx provides workforce management software solutions to help the nurses at your skilled nursing facility thrive. We designed our full suite of product solutions to optimize and streamline healthcare facility operations. 

With the capability to manage time and scheduling, track payroll, initiate reports, and ensure compliance, SmartLinx software reduces the stress on nurses and helps staff accomplish more. Learn more about our solutions and services, or schedule a demo today

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