The current state of healthcare causes major frustration, mistrust, and low morale among both service users and healthcare staff. Staff morale is an important consideration for any business but especially so in the healthcare service, where positive team morale results in improved patient care and satisfaction. While the issues may seem complex, there are some simple solutions that healthcare managers can implement to boost the morale of their staff, from building a teamwork culture by providing appropriate healthcare uniforms to improving communication systems and managing staff rotas efficiently.
- Create a Positive Team Working Culture
One of the best ways to boost staff morale is to encourage your employees to work as a team. Regular team-building activities should be scheduled, but these need be neither time-consuming nor extravagant to be effective in creating a team-working culture. The activities could be work-related, such as setting a challenge for teams to solve a particular problem or delivering a staff training session, or even just for fun. Why not sign up to a charity run together? What is important is that people are given time out of their day to learn about their teammates and how to value one another. This may seem like a luxury when time and staff are short, but managers who allow this time will reap the benefits. In workplaces where staff value one another and understand their shared purpose, productivity increases and individuals are more willing to “pitch in” during times of need, such as staff absences and crisis events.
Ensuring your team are provided with appropriate healthcare uniforms keeps patients and staff hygienic and safe, as well as serving to develop a team culture and boost morale. Uniforms also allow staff members to be easily identified so that patients and colleagues can get to the right person quickly. This is often vital in healthcare, especially in emergency settings. Staff and patients can become quickly frustrated if they struggle to find the help they need. Healthcare uniforms also make employees feel safe and valued, as they are designed to comply with health and safety regulations. Employees are united by their uniforms — they instill a sense of pride and help employees identify with each other and the organization they work for.
- Implement a Fair and Transparent Staff Scheduling System
As the shortage of nurses and healthcare workers increases, recruiting experienced staff is becoming more and more competitive. Healthcare managers need to put systems in place to retain their staff. A big part of this means effectively balancing staffing needs while respecting their staff members’ external commitments, well-being and working preferences. The biggest cause of low morale in healthcare workers is feeling unable to meet the needs of their patients. If staff rotas are not managed effectively and shifts run on low numbers, patient care suffers along with staff morale. While it may sound complex, predictive analytics can make scheduling in line with staffing needs and patient demand a relatively simple task. If you’re lucky enough to have the technology, automated systems that make use of “big data” can make staff scheduling a dream. Even without this cutting-edge technology, managers can make great strides in boosting staff morale by being aware of the impact of staff scheduling and constantly monitoring and assessing the systems in place.
- Ask Your Staff for Their Thoughts
Provide your staff with a forum for regularly sharing feedback with their peers and senior staff. Understanding what is working and what isn’t from those on the front line can be invaluable for achieving your organization’s goals, delivering on an agreed vision, and allowing managers to identify strengths and weaknesses in systems, teams, and processes. Without this constant cycle of monitoring and feedback, it is hard to move forward and improve. Placing such importance on staff feedback will make your team feel valued and morale will soar.
There are almost limitless means of gaining feedback from staff. At the simplest level, take the time to speak with team members and ask them for feedback. People are often more open about their thoughts and feelings when approached in an informal manner. Obviously, if you plan to use their feedback in an official capacity, it is important to be clear that you plan to do so. If a staff member shares some useful opinions in a casual chat, ask them if they mind you sharing their ideas (possibly anonymously) at a higher level. Setting up a “suggestion box” or scheduling regular one-to-one sessions are more formal methods for gaining ongoing feedback. Your objectives of seeking feedback will drive the means in which you go about eliciting it. Are you trying to assess employee wellbeing and morale, or do you want to understand how a new system is working in practice? However you choose to go about it, your staff will appreciate being listened to — it will make them feel that you value their opinions.
These are challenging times for the healthcare sector and managers and other leaders have their work cut out for them. But there are some simple solutions for boosting morale in your healthcare setting. In the short term, these may seem like a commitment to time and effort you can’t afford, but in the long term, you will have a happier and more motivated workforce, which means better patient care and higher patient satisfaction.