Few jobs are as rewarding as nursing, but precisely because it’s so emotionally involving, nurses are particularly susceptible to burnout. Long shifts and physically demanding work also take their toll, and nurses who are also caregivers at home can feel like they never get a break. What can employers do to make the lives of their staff easier?
Pay attention to individual needs
It’s important to follow guidelines when arranging shifts so that you don’t exhaust your staff, but it’s also important to bear in mind that people get worn out by different kinds of things. Some nurses find the physical side of the job relatively easy but quickly get worn down when caring for distressed patients. Others are inspired and energized by the opportunity to help such patients but struggle with work that is repetitive, or they find specific tasks hard to cope with. Listening to nurses and treating them as individuals helps a whole unit to do better.
Develop strong peer support networks
Nobody understands the challenges of nursing as well as those who have experienced them, so peer support networks are a vital part of keeping everybody on the team healthy. Make sure that all nursing staff has access to these and that new arrivals are not shy about reaching out. Simple things like setting aside a space where stressed nurses can take time out to talk to someone can make a big difference to how everyone copes. Access to water and healthy snacks makes it easier for staff to grab relaxing five-minute breaks together at quiet times.
Provide learning opportunities
In any kind of job, burnout is most common when people feel trapped by routine and can’t see a way out for themselves. There’s so much room to develop and explore different avenues in nursing that this shouldn’t be a problem, but it takes a proactive employer to make sure that opportunities are visible. Let your nurses know when Wilkes class registration is opening and see if you can provide funds to help them study or connect them with other finance options. Be flexible about fitting shifts around classes and exams.
Crackdown on bullying
While you can only do so much about the stresses created by nursing itself, you can help to reduce other sources of workplace stress. By far the most common of these is bullying, which can take many different forms and is often connected to forms of prejudice like racism or homophobia. Sometimes it’s carried out by other nurses, sometimes by superiors, and sometimes by patients. Make sure that you have a robust reporting system that keeps whistle-blowers safe and ensures that bullies know their actions won’t be tolerated.
Burnout is a lot less common when nurses feel valued, so even being able to see that you’re making an effort for them will help your staff to cope when times are hard. With your support, they’ll be able to maintain better mental health and find a lot more enjoyment in their work.