Adapting to Different Work Cultures

Adapting to Different Work Cultures

Our health care system ­today has made tremendous progress in providing care to ­individuals and families. Change is good, but as the health care industry rapidly responds to emerging trends, markets, and ­opportunities, how staff nurses respond to different kinds of work ­culture is important, particularly when work culture highly ­impacts a nurse’s job function.

Work culture is made up of the norms, values, and beliefs that characterize an organization. Several factors, including management, workplace practices, policies and philosophies, ­employees and their interactions, ­leadership, expectations, rewards or ­recognitions, communications, transparency, and ­support within an ­organization, can influence work ­culture. Work culture,which can make or break a workplace, is powerful. It can ­inspire health care employees to be more productive and positive at work, or it can make them feel undervalued and frustrated. Thus, it plays a crucial role in shaping ­behaviors in ­organizations.

Your Work Culture

Ask yourself the following

:

  • What is the culture like in your workplace?
  • Do staff naturally unite and collaborate?
  • Are the leadership and ­executive teams available and transparent?
  • What values and principles does your organization ­express?

Sometimes, you might say “it’s challenging.” Defining work culture can be difficult; nevertheless, it is fundamental to good (or poor) practice. Work culture is not often discussed, but clearly, nurses can be ­negatively or positively ­influenced by their work ­culture.

Work culture in nursing is critical to job satisfaction, nurse retention, and patient outcomes. A toxic work culture can lead to increased sick days, stress-related symptoms, and nurse turnover. It also plays a large role in the ability to provide quality nursing care. Work culture can impact everything from the safety of patients to job satisfaction. If yours is negative and discouraging, you cannot just wait for it to change. The first thing you must realize is that it might not change at all without you taking some kind of action.

Understanding your work culture is key to developing practice that aims to improve care. Although a positive work culture is mostly created from the top down, it often happens from the bottom up. Nurses should not undervalue the power of their work culture. Understanding work culture as a learning environment is ­related to how nurses choose to engage in their workplace and how the workplace normalizes their involvement in activities and interpersonal relations. Nurses can take inspired action, engage in networks, and initiate work culture change. This is not a simple task, but nurses can utilize their own personal power and create cultural transformation in their workplace. Keep in mind that work culture can—and will—change and evolve over time. The first approach is to define and evaluate your work culture—both what it is now and what it should be in the future.

Every workplace has its own work culture. Most of this is unspoken, but a lot can be learned from an employee handbook or company policy. Observation, assessment, and communication are key ­approaches to help you ­uncover your work culture. These key approaches can also be utilized by someone who has unique developmental and ­socialization needs, such as new graduate nurses, international nurses, student nurses, and nurses who are undergoing role status changes or transitioning to a new area. No matter what your status is, here are five ways to help you thrive in your work culture.

  • Watch and learn. Give yourself some time to understand the reasons behind workplace behavior and you will be much more successful in understanding the causes. Observe how things are done. Take notes. Keep track. Building relationships with people in your workplace and connecting with someone on your team who has a good understanding of how the workplace culture works can help you better ­understand and avoid making a mistake.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask questions. You don’t need to know everything. Questions are a great way to clear up differences and get to know people. Also, be sure to ask for help whenever you need it. Asking for assistance or an explanation should not be considered a sign of weakness.
  • Remain motivated at work. Nurse burnout is real, so it is important to recognize the impacts you make on your patients and workplace every day. Focus on yourself and how you can be a positive influence.
  • Be transparent. Let your ­coworkers know about your background and your career goals. Don’t hesitate to share your ideas and let your team and supervisor know what other skills you have to offer.
  • Acknowledge your mistakes. Apologize and laugh it off. Keep your sense of humor and learn from every mistake you make.

Developing the skills and ability to understand and communicate effectively with all your coworkers (including your supervisor) is critical to your success in your own career, as well as the success of your organization. These skills are not innate; they require practice, but anyone can develop these skills. Adapting to a new work culture is an ongoing process. Once you have the skills, you can work more effectively with different groups of people and adjust easily to working in different cultures throughout your career.

Insights from the Front Lines: AMN Healthcare 2017 RN Survey

Insights from the Front Lines: AMN Healthcare 2017 RN Survey

In a newly released national survey of registered nurses, data shows that the long-predicted wave of retirements among Baby Boomer nurses is already underway, a trend that will undoubtedly exacerbate existing RN shortages. The survey also showed that an overwhelming majority of RNs expressed a strong desire to see more nurses in health care executive leadership positions. And, approximately half of RNs don’t feel supported by their leaders.

These were just a few of the key insights found in the AMN Healthcare 2017 Survey of Registered Nurses, health care’s innovator in workforce solutions and staffing services.

AMN Healthcare conducts the biennial RN survey to provide the health care industry with immediate and up-to-date information directly from one of the largest and most influential sectors of the health care workforce.

In this ongoing period of transformation nurses surveyed had a lot to say about staff shortages, the delivery of care, and how they feel about their work environment and leadership. The survey was completed in spring 2017 by 3,347 RNs.

The following are some highlights.

Retirement Wave and Nurse Shortage

The aging of America—10,000 Baby Boomers turn 65 every day, according to the Pew Research Center—is affecting the health care landscape in many important ways. Along with pushing patient demand to new heights, a wave of retirements among Baby Boomer nurses—a trend uncovered in the 2015 RN Survey—has taken hold. Among those nurses who say they are planning to retire, 27%—more than one in four—plan to do so in less than a year. That is considerably higher than the 16% in the 2015 survey.

The Baby Boomer retirements are expected to exacerbate nursing shortages, a situation that many RNs feel has worsened over the last five years. In the 2017 RN Survey, 48% said that nurse shortages have gotten worse, compared to 37% in 2015.

2017 RN Survey Chart

Continuing shortages of nurses and intense competition for quality health care professionals are also fueling a national nurse licensure movement, which the 2017 RN Survey showed RNs heavily favor. The Nurse Licensure Compact, launched in 2000 by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing, gives eligible RNs the ability to practice in other compact states without having to secure an additional license. Thus far, 26 states have joined.

More Nurse Leaders Wanted

The 2017 RN Survey showed a strong desire for more high-level nurse leaders (82% favored), coupled with a relative lack of interest among many of those surveyed in assuming such positions. Central to the desire to see more RNs in leadership positions was the feeling among many nurses that they are not adequately supported by their current leaders, according to the survey.

Despite this desire for greater nurse representation among executives, 61% said they would not consider moving into a leadership position, though 17% said they already were in such a role. A relatively small percentage (22%) of RNs indicated their interest in entering leadership positions. Reasons given for lack of interest included not wanting to deal with the politics of leadership structure and a desire to remain at the bedside.

A slightly different picture emerges when the numbers are broken down by age group. Millennial nurses (ages 19-36) were significantly more interested in moving into leadership positions, with more than one-third expressing interest. This compared to one-fourth of Gen Xers (ages 37-53) and only 10% of Baby Boomers (ages 54+).  However, Baby Boomer nurses had a much higher percentage of RNs already in leadership positions.

RNs had mixed feelings on trust and other issues regarding their leaders, according to the 2017 RN Survey. When asked whether their leaders were people they trust, good at what they do, care about them, and support their career development, the RN responses were split nearly down the middle. In general, about half of respondents responded positively to questions about their leaders, while the other half responded negatively or weren’t sure. The mixed results suggest that health care providers face challenges in ensuring workers feel cared about and supported by their leadership.

Career Satisfaction vs. Job Satisfaction

A large percentage of nurses (83%) expressed satisfaction with their career choice, and two-thirds said they would recommend nursing to others. Pride in their career was also evident regarding patient care delivery as 73% of nurses said they are satisfied with the quality of care they provide.

Nurses are not quite as happy with their current jobs as they are with their careers—60% said they are satisfied with their jobs. More than half expressed concern that their jobs may be affecting their health—not surprising considering the emotional and physical demands of working as an acute care nurse.

However, when asked whether they would encourage others to enter nursing, 66% of all nurses agreed or strongly agreed that they would. And that percentage was even higher among Millennial nurses. In many sections of the survey, data showed stronger positives among the younger cadre of nurses. While nursing may be facing some challenges in the current era of health care change, the energy of Millennial nurses constitutes a progressive force for the profession and the industry.

To learn more about the 2017 RN Survey, and read our full finding, please visit www.amnhealthcare.com/2017-RNSurvey.

How to Weigh Job Offers

How to Weigh Job Offers

Getting a job offer is thrilling, but having two offers on the table can actually heighten both excitement and anxiety. Because nurses are in demand and much needed right now, you could someday find yourself having to choose between two (or even more) job offers at once.

How will you know what to do? What specific parts of each job will make it the right job for you? Nurses should look at each job move strategically and analyze each offer carefully. One job might offer a significantly higher salary, but the other might tempt you with flexible hours and more vacation time.

The process of choosing the right job for you is stressful. You have a lot riding on this choice and the companies you are interviewing with have a big financial stake in choosing the right candidate, too, says Kathy Quan, RN, BSN, PHN, author of The Everything New Nurse Book, and founder of TheNursingSite.com. You don’t want to waste their time—or yours. And if you choose the wrong job, you don’t want to find yourself back at square one looking for another job.

“When weighing job offers, there are financial considerations and work/life considerations,” says Kerry Hannon, author of Love Your Job: The New Rules for Career Happiness and Getting the Job You Want After 50 for Dummies. “And there’s some soul searching.”

Hannon says you should think hard about what makes you love your nursing work and what makes you happy in life so you know what each job can do for you. Are you leaving a position where your shift never ends on time or one where your boss is horrible? “What are your deal breakers?” asks Lisa Mauri Thomas, MS, a job search strategist and author of Landing Your Perfect Nursing Job. List those up front and rank them to give you a sense of what you absolutely won’t accept, she says.

Remember, your dream job could be another nurse’s nightmare, so figuring out what is important to your happiness makes a big difference in finding the job that will suit you. “Like most professionals, nurses can be easily swayed by salary,” says Nancy Brook, RN, MSN, of Stanford Health Care and author of The Nurse Practitioner’s Bag: A Guide to Creating a Meaningful Career That Makes a Difference. “But that shouldn’t be the whole decision if you are trying to establish a career path.”

“Nursing is so stressful,” says Hannon. “Know what will help you balance that stress.” Is time off so you can recharge away necessary? In that case, vacation time might be worth more to you than a higher salary. Do you need a schedule where you can work three 12-hour days so you can have four days off to take care of family? You need flexibility. Will a big jump in pay help relieve your worry over a mountain of bills? Then focusing on your financial goals can help you weigh what’s best for you.

Start Digging Early

How can you find out all this information about a job so you know enough to make the right decision? When you are considering a new position, find out as much as you can during the interview process, but then dig deeper.

“Interviewing is a two-way street,” says Hannon. “You are in the driver’s seat. They think you have something that can make their workplace better.” Both sides are trying to find a good fit, so the interview is when you can ask questions about culture, job duties, and management style, but save any salary, benefit, or flex time questions until you have an offer. Ask your interviewers why they enjoy working at the company, and ask if you can talk to a few people in the department where you would work.

Turn to social media to find out even more. Look up any connections you might have to company employees. See if someone can make an introduction for you. Check out www.Glassdoor.com where former and current employees rate companies.

And if you are hesitant about checking into a company blatantly, you have to ask yourself an important question. “If it backfires, do you really want to work there?” says Hannon. As you gather all your information, think about what might make you want the job. Some common factors include cold cash offers and culture, but there are other ways you can determine if a job choice will make you happy.

Consider Salary and Benefits

Of course, salary plays a huge part in choosing a job offer that’s right for you, and money weighs heavily in most job decisions. “If you’re not being paid what you are valuing your worth, you’ll be resentful,” argues Hannon. Have an idea of your ballpark salary and see if the organization comes close to it. But consider the value of all the other things in the job offer package. Some, like health benefits, might be worth thousands of dollars, while other items might not have a monetary value directly attributed to it (e.g., leadership opportunities), but that might have direct value on your life or lifestyle.

What’s the Work/Life Attitude?

Reflecting on what you honestly want will help you decide if the job is for you, so consider how the job fits into your life and how your life fits into your job—otherwise known as the work/life balance.

“The most important thing when making a decision about the work/life balance is to look at the bigger picture,” says Hannon. “There are things that don’t relate to money but that circle around things that make us happy.”

Flexibility and autonomy are often especially important for nurses. If you have a busy family life, you are probably looking for a schedule that includes flex time to some extent. Although flex time discussions shouldn’t happen until the job offer is made, you can certainly get an idea of how things work by asking other nurses about their typical schedules.

Does the Company Culture Match Your Values?

When you are interviewing, be extra-observant of the people and the surroundings so you can get a sense of what the atmosphere is like. “Does the vibe suit you?” asks Hannon. “Do you think you will fit in there?” Thomas recommends asking to meet with members of your potential team to ask about the leadership style or to describe the mood on the floor.

“Find out who will be your most direct manager,” says Betsy Snook, MEd, BSN, RN, and chief executive officer of the Pennsylvania State Nurses Association. The fit here is crucial to your future job satisfaction. “People don’t leave work, they leave a manager,” says Snook. When you meet with the team, don’t put them on the spot by asking about the manager, but you can ask about the management style and any challenges they have with the style. Or ask them to give some adjectives that describe the style of management. Brook recommends finding out how long the nurses have worked there. If many have years at the company, that’s a good sign that they are satisfied with how things are going.

“Look at the culture,” says Snook. “Their values, their mission, their vision—does it match your core vision?” Snook says nurses might flock to the latest and greatest hospital in the area, but they should also step back and look at the new leadership as well. “What’s the management style of the leaders? Where did they work prior to here?” If you loved your previous job because you felt like you were part of the larger picture, then consider the overall corporation. “Is this a place where you believe in the ethics there or their purpose and mission?” asks Hannon. And is the organization stable, asks Snook. A quick Google search can reveal any merger talks, financial instability, strikes, layoffs, or worker dissatisfaction.

Is There Career Advancement?

For a strategic career move, assess your bigger goals and figure out how each position brings you closer to meeting a specific goal. “Always think of your next step,” advises Thomas. Career mapping, as Thomas calls it, means that while you might accept a position, it doesn’t mean that is where you have to stay for 10 years.

Quan agrees. “If you are looking to move up the ladder, you have to make choices that make sense,” she says.

If an advanced degree is in your plans, a job package that includes some kind of tuition reimbursement for the classes you want to take will be very attractive to you. Look into other opportunities for learning. For instance, will you be able to learn new things through courses and workshops? Some companies will pay for you to travel to conferences in your specialty. Consider what kinds of new challenges will be available and how you can take advantage of those. And as Snook mentions, make sure the timeline aligns with your own. If their nurse managers typically take a decade to achieve a certain position and you have a realistic goal of achieving that position sooner, will you want to wait?

What if you aren’t looking for lots of challenges? Are you at a time in your life where your health or other personal issues are so demanding that you don’t want to be constantly challenged at work? Be honest with yourself. If you are interviewing for a job that sounds ideal, but that requires lots of travel for training or that will give you a fast track to a management role that you aren’t seeking and wouldn’t be comfortable with, then this isn’t the right job for you.

Do the Nuts and Bolts Add Security?

Finally, throw in all the other small things that can add up when you consider taking a job. “In general, pay is important, but you want to look at lifestyle, too,” says Brook. Does the great health plan include your favorite providers? How long is the commute? It is a traffic-jammed mess that you’d have to navigate every day, or is it an easier ride than your current job? How much will you end up spending in gas (and consider fluctuating fuel costs)? Does the company offer smaller perks? Would on-site child care help you? What about things like dry cleaning services or a wellness program? Do you like the idea of frequent company outings and get-togethers, or does that seem like an imposition on your time away from work?

What about the job expectations? Are you expected to sit on committees? Will you work holidays? Will any of these extras help you get closer to your career goals faster? For instance, will committee work, whether part of your job or as an unpaid volunteer, broaden your network or position you for leadership roles?

What Do You Do With Offers in Hand?

Now that you have a couple offers, you have some wiggle room if the offers are close. Before you make any move, it’s essential to have the job offer in writing, advises Thomas. “If they don’t offer one, you should request one,” she says. You can verbally accept a position contingent on receiving everything in writing—including hours, vacation time, and even any job training you’ve been promised. “Anything you have negotiated should be in there,” Thomas says. “Nurses are good at caring for others, but they have to be their strongest self-advocates. If an employer is shaky on that, I would question if that’s a place I want to work for.”

If you need time to consider the job offers, ask for a few days to crunch the numbers, says Thomas, but don’t mention that you are deciding between two offers. If you really can’t decide, determine what information is missing. If you need to spend time with nurses on the floor, ask to shadow someone. Say your intentions are good, but you need this information to help you make a solid decision, says Thomas. Show respect for their time as well and schedule anything right away.

Saying No Thanks to an Offer

When you do choose one job over another, decline the other position with grace, says Thomas. “You don’t want to burn bridges,” she says. Instead, be very gracious and thank the company profusely for the interviewing opportunity. You can let them know it came down to certain variables—like the shorter commute time or the tuition assistance—the other company offered. As the job market changes so often, you want to keep the doors open and tell them you would like to remain in touch.

As Snook says, you have to do your homework so you know the hard facts, but if you’ve taken the time to figure out your needs and you have all the details on the table, you’ll probably find yourself leaning toward one company. “When all is said and done, you just have to go with your gut,” Snook says.

And take pride in your accomplishments. “You are coming in with value,” says Brook. “Be confident in your ability to bring a good deal of value to the organization and make a decision that is right for you.”

Improving Job Satisfaction and Lowering Turnover Rates

Improving Job Satisfaction and Lowering Turnover Rates

Health care organizations are complex and face a myriad of challenges. Maintaining a cadre of well-qualified, dedicated employees is one of the greatest challenges faced by an organization. All organizations experience both voluntary and involuntary turnover, which, for the most part, will have a negative effect on the organization. This is particularly true in health care—and especially in the nursing profession, which has experienced very high rates of turnover, historically and cyclically.

Turnover is a voluntary process where an employee decides for whatever reason that he or she no longer wants to be employed at a particular organization. In the book The 7 Hidden Reasons Employees Leave, author Leigh Branham defines turnover as a process of disengagement that occurs over a period of time and that ends with voluntary termination. This definition is significant, giving the organization an opportunity to stop the process if they can figure out what is causing the person to want to leave. Although there are many reasons why individuals leave their jobs, Laureen J. Hayes and colleagues identified job satisfaction as being a significant factor for nurse turnover in their 2006 literature review published in the International Journal of Nursing Studies.

Because there are many factors that influence a person’s job satisfaction—such as leadership support, autonomy, and positive work environment—it is quite challenging to develop a comprehensive retention program. However, knowing the most common factors and what nurses value can be very helpful for the nurses and the organization. The journey to becoming a nurse is challenging, and once you become a nurse the challenges remain, but the rewards often outweigh the challenges. Certainly, no one goes into nursing believing that they will eventually become disenfranchised to the point where they want to leave their position, or in some cases, the profession. Unfortunately, this is exactly what happens to many nurses, especially new nurses.

Why is Turnover So High?

Turnover has been particularly problematic in nursing. In 2007, Christine T. Kovner and colleagues reported in the American Journal of Nursing that within the first year of transition turnover rates were as high as 50%. New nurses face countless challenges as they transition into practice. Reality shock affects all new nurses to some degree, with some leaving their organization and others leaving the profession altogether. It’s very overwhelming to leave the cocoon of support in nursing school and suddenly be on your own. Being autonomous, developing time management, critical reasoning, and organizational skills, and becoming clinically competent are just some of the challenges faced by new nurses.

Experienced nurses often leave due to a negative work environment, which leads to job dissatisfaction and burnout. Not only does turnover have a negative effect on patient outcomes, but it may result in more turnover as units become understaffed and more nurses experience burnout. Furthermore, turnover costs to society are estimated to be between $1.4 and $2.1 billion, according to a 2013 study published in the Journal of Nursing Management.

Turnover has been the subject of multiple studies since the mid-1900s—several theories and models have been developed to explain why turnover occurs. For example, William H. Mobley and colleagues developed a conceptual model in 1979 that considered individual, organization, and environmental factors. Another model was developed in 1994 by Thomas W. Lee and Terrence R. Mitchell—the “unfolding model” of turnover, which has four paths. The first path describes a “shock,” which leads to the second path where the employee evaluates his or her fit. In the third path, the employee analyzes his or her fit within the organization, and in the fourth path, the employee leaves the organization.

More recently, Amy L. Kristof-Brown and colleagues described how person-environment fit has been utilized to explain organizational turnover in a 2005 article published in Personnel Psychology. The general premise being that when an employee’s (person) needs are met by the organization they will have a good fit, which will result in greater job satisfaction and lower turnover. The model has been further developed into categories of person-supervisor, person-organization, person-group, and person-job fit. In my doctoral dissertation on job satisfaction and turnover, I utilized person-supervisor fit and found a relationship between value congruence on leadership support and job satisfaction in registered nurses. Although there were several different antecedents of job satisfaction, leadership support was a significant factor. It is helpful to have a basic understanding of turnover and the various theories, especially when developing orientation and retention programs.

Why Job Satisfaction Matters

Interestingly, salary was not identified as a significant factor in job satisfaction in many studies, yet job satisfaction is one of the most common factors that influence an employee’s decision to leave an organization. Some of the most common predictors of job satisfaction are: autonomy, work environment, supervisor support, and work stress. Nurse-physician collaboration, nurse-patient ratios, ability to deliver safe patient care, interpersonal relationships, and recognition can also have an effect on job satisfaction.

Although very few studies have been conducted on job satisfaction and minority nurses, Ying Xue published a study on job satisfaction among racial and ethnic minority nurses in the International Journal of Nursing Studies in 2015. The results revealed that a majority of nurses were satisfied with their jobs; however, black, American Indian/Alaska Native, and multiracial nurses had lower job satisfaction in comparison to white nurses. Xue recommends further studies be undertaken in order to develop programs to improve job satisfaction and decrease turnover in minority nurses.

The need to be autonomous is something most nurses value, but this increases as a nurse becomes more experienced. Experienced nurses value their autonomy and ability to use their knowledge, critical reasoning, and expertise when caring for their patients. New nurses, on the other hand, recognize their limitations and the need for support by their peers, mentors, and supervisors during their transition into professional practice. Unsurprisingly, both new and experienced nurses want to be supported by their manager—just in varying degrees.

Nurse-physician collaboration varies among organizations, and even nursing units. Although there are many supportive physicians that have developed positive working relationships with nurses, there are some physicians who are very disrespectful to nurses, unfortunately. Suzanne Gordon wrote extensively about this issue in her book, Nursing Against the Odds: How Health Care Cost Cutting, Media Stereotypes, and Medical Hubris Undermine Nurses and Patient Care. Still, physicians are not the only ones who are problematic. Many nurses, especially new nurses, are victims of workplace bullying by their peers and supervisors. This issue is so serious that the Joint Commission issued a Sentinel Event Alert in 2008 requiring organizations to have a “zero tolerance policy” against “intimidating or disruptive behavior.” Your organization is required to have policies to address this issue, so please reach out to the appropriate people if you are experiencing any type of bullying. There is no need to suffer in silence.

A negative work environment is among the top reasons why nurses leave their jobs. Although there are many factors that influence the work environment, the nurse manager plays a pivotal role in creating a positive work environment. Many nurse managers are promoted from within and may not have the experience and/or education required of an exemplary leader. There are many different styles of leadership, and a true leader knows when to use the various styles. For example, in an emergency situation one might have to take an authoritarian approach; however, in most other situations, a democratic or participatory approach might be best. Transformational leadership, which is often seen in Magnet hospitals, has frequently been cited as the preferred style of leadership by many nurses.

Leadership support plays a significant role in turnover and is frequently cited as an antecedent of job satisfaction. Furthermore, value congruence on leadership support is positively related to job satisfaction among staff nurses. I measured the difference in scores of nurse managers and their staff nurses by using Kouzes and Posner’s Leadership Practices Inventory®, and the results were published in the Journal of Nursing Management. Notably, when value congruence increased, job satisfaction also increased. This is an important finding as it supports the influential role of the nurse manager and can be used to develop training programs for nurse managers so they can become expert leaders.

Nurse-patient ratios have recently been a major topic of debate among staff nurses, administration, professional organizations, and the collective bargaining units. There are compelling arguments for both sides of this issue, and the main goal is to enable nurses to provide safe and quality care. The American Nurses Association (ANA) recommends legislation that empowers nurses to collaborate on staffing plans and that is flexible to allow for changes in acuity and census. They also posit that establishing a minimal state staffing level could be beneficial. According to ANA, only 14 states currently have laws or regulations on staffing. Although there is a lack of consensus on whether or not to mandate nurse-patient ratios, nurses want to work in an environment that allows them to provide patient-centered care. Nurses also value recognition from patients and administration in the form of letters or just a simple “thank you.” Naturally, nurses expect to be paid at a level commensurate with their education and experience; however, these other factors are more important to many nurses. It is important to note that job satisfaction is different for each individual, so it is best to have each employee complete a questionnaire on job satisfaction and tailor retention programs accordingly based on the individual needs of the nurse, unit, and organization.

Improving Your Work Environment

There are many things you can do to improve your work environment and job satisfaction. Finding the right “fit” can take time, so it is very important to learn as much as you can about an organization when applying for a new position. It is helpful to visit your potential unit and meet the nurse manager and the staff during the interview process. Be sure to inquire about the orientation program, mentor/preceptor programs, and staff development. Communication and interpersonal relationships are key to a positive work environment. Completing a self-assessment of your skills and developing a self-improvement plan can be quite helpful. Being proactive will also serve you well.

If you are having difficulties, be sure to reach out to your manager for support. And if you are having difficulties with your nurse manager, follow your chain of command and seek assistance from his or her superiors. Cultural differences can often lead to miscommunication and misunderstanding; therefore, it is of the utmost importance to continue to learn as much as you can about the various cultural beliefs and values of your colleagues and patients.

Stress is another common issue that can lead to burnout and job dissatisfaction. Engaging in self-care is very important, especially when caring for others. There are many strategies for dealing with stress—yoga, meditation, aromatherapy, healthy eating, exercise, and deep breathing exercises, just to name a few. If your organization offers a program, be sure to take advantage. If not, perhaps you can make a suggestion that a program be created. Moreover, if you feel that your particular nursing unit is having any of the issues discussed in this article, you might want to explore the possibility of a task force comprised of various staff members to identify strategies for improving the work environment.

In summary, job satisfaction is related to turnover. While there are many factors at play, taking a proactive approach can make a major difference in lowering turnover rates. Create a positive work environment and it will benefit patients, employees, and the organization alike. 

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