If the throes of recent health emergencies have taught the healthcare industry anything, it’s that healthcare workers deserve better. According to a recently published Shift Work Report, 96% of workers, including healthcare workers, agree that shift workers deserve more respect. Whether working on the frontlines, in emergency departments, or attending to patients in a family care clinic, nurses deserve more.
As a modern healthcare worker, you should fight for the benefits that you deserve. And as an employer, you should know what your employees want and need in a workplace in order to reduce turnover. Continue reading for four key work benefits that nurses should demand.
In Demand: The Current Climate of Nursing
Although nurses are indispensable, they are often unsupported. Unfortunately, the issue of undervaluation for nurses is worse for women and, even more so, women of color. Nearly 1.7 million female healthcare workers live below the poverty line with their children.
Many nurses continue to make minimum wage, even though their jobs require a high skill set and at least some education. This is not the only problem that nurses face today. With employers discouraging unionization, non-unionized nurses are missing out on an extra $128 per week.
In addition, nurses experience dangerous working conditions with little protection. Exposure to chemicals and illnesses due to a lack of Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) causes millions of healthcare workers to get sick or injured on the job.
Other than pay and safety, hospital healthcare workers endure inflexible schedules and long working hours that lead to quick burnout, whereas nurses that don’t work in emergency departments are facing job insecurity due to COVID-19.
The culmination of these issues have made one thing especially clear: it is time for a change in the way that nurses are treated.
On-Demand: 4 Value Drivers for Nurses
Beyond the bare minimum of a livable wage and accommodating work arrangements, it’s important that administrators implement key changes to incentivize productivity and loyalty.
Here are four value drivers for nurses, and how employers can implement better practices.
1. Moral Support and Job Security
Many say that nursing is a great career to go into because there are always jobs available. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has projected 175,900 nursing jobs to open each year. However, according to the report cited in the intro of this article, 69% of shift workers—including healthcare workers—are concerned about job security even with high growth projections.
With so much insecurity in the healthcare industry, employers should work hard to ensure that their nursing staff feel supported. Here are ways in which employers can do this:
- Empower staff by allowing them to swap shifts.
- Provide clear expectations about hours and job tasks.
- Make hours visible to staff so that they know what to expect on payday.
Although employers can’t control job security industry-wide, they can control whether or not they are morally supporting their nurses.
2. A Safe and Healthy Workplace: Fair Working Conditions
COVID-19 has brought about new concerns in healthcare workplace safety. Nurses are forced to take the brunt of health hazards as they care for the most vulnerable patients, with or without proper PPE. Although it may seem hopeless, nurses can fight for stronger ethics and workplace safety.
Here are ways that employers can make a safer environment for nurses:
- Double-checking employee health through temperature screenings and symptom logs.
- Use videos to share new safety protocols.
- Implement touchless clock-in features, such as apps or keycards.
- Ensure that employees know about fair working regulations.
It’s important for nurses to follow CDC and WHO recommendations. More importantly, employers should optimize PPE according to CDC guidelines, so that nurses don’t have to work without it.
3. Flexible Schedules
Many nurses love shift work, with 66% of workers seeing flexible scheduling as the top benefit of their job. There are some types of nursing that offer more flexibility than others. For example, telehealth nursing offers excellent schedule flexibility due to the work-from-home aspect.
Schedule flexibility is especially important to mothers and caregivers. In fact, 40% of nurses are mothers with children under the age of 18. Without schedule flexibility, nurses may have a difficult time securing childcare or working around school schedules.
4. Communication and Care
Above all, employers need to prioritize communication with their nurses and working towards their benefit. Healthcare shift workers should feel comfortable talking with their employers about issues like safety, pay, scheduling and benefits. Here is how employers can develop soft skills and make nurses a priority:
- Build schedules based on employee needs.
- Ensure that payroll is accurate and on time.
- Connect with your team to encourage a more friendly work atmosphere.
- Provide opportunities for promotions and raises.
Essential Workers Deserve More
Nursing and healthcare facility staff have quite literally saved the day in the past year. Their tireless efforts have mitigated major risks and helped families through a global pandemic. Many of them had more to do than ever before which caused more stress at work and at home too.
It’s now more important than ever to care for nurses as employees. It will result in higher productivity, low turnover and burnout rates, an overall higher degree of job satisfaction and, in the end, better patient outcomes. All it takes is a few changes in the workplace to make this happen.