A Culture of Caring: Your Guide to Nurses’ Satisfaction
By Liliane de Vries
For most, work always seems to feel like, well, work. Day in and day out, employees embark on a never-ending grind to complete their next task, assignment, project, etc. So, it’s no surprise that a recent Gallup poll found that nearly nine out of ten Americans aren’t engaged in their work.
But what if this could change? Could this epidemic of dissatisfaction be just a matter of perspective? The short answer is yes, but the long answer is far more fascinating.
The science is in on work satisfaction
A study conducted by Dan Ariely (a behavioral economist) consisted of offering factory workers one of three emails to measure motivational impactors. These options included a pizza, a personalized “thank you” note from their boss, and lastly, a cash bonus.
As counterintuitive as it may sound, the bonus provided the least amount of encouragement. Instead, Ariely’s study found that the other two more personal options (pizza and praise) outperformed the bonus because it offered employees encouragement in the form of expressed value.
Although the study displayed a link between gestures such as these improving performance, it’s equally important to note that the increase in productivity leveled out to their baseline after a week, however, there is a lesson to be learned here: genuine statements of appreciation matter.
The cure to dissatisfaction: a culture of caring
Ariely’s study shines a light on an often overlooked but critical function of maintaining productivity within the workplace – employee happiness. As simple as most would wish it to be, pizza and praise aren’t enough to keep engagement up in the long term. But what is? Enter culture of caring.
Establishing a culture of caring redefines life in the workplace by cultivating a space for employees to feel cared for by management and each other. Harvard Business Review details that “a culture that emphasizes caring and order encourages a work environment in which teamwork, trust, and respect are paramount.”
There are three easy steps to create a culture of caring in the hospital.
1. Leaders must set an example
The foundation for a culture of caring begins at the management level. Offering support to employees -or nurses – encourages the modeling of this behavior, transforming them into what psychologist Adam Grant refers to as “givers”. And when nurses “act like givers, they contribute to others without seeking anything in return.” This no-strings-attached approach can be reinforced by management providing help without creating expectations of reciprocating.
2. Emphasize nurses’ contribution
Each step toward developing a culture of caring is a crucial component, but this one really addresses the core issue of lack of engagement in the workplace. It all starts with the management’s vision. With a clearly defined vision and purpose, every task or project completed marks a moment of growth in the organization. This added sense of meaning recontextualizes what was previously perceived as mundane busywork into consequential contributions.
3. Trust and transparency
A study by TINYpulse found that trust and transparency act as the cornerstones to achieving strong working relationships. Trust can be developed through sharing updates ahead of time, disclosing information (when appropriate) to reinforce that nurses’ input is indeed valuable. Also, instilling trust improves happiness, and happy employees are 12% more productive, according to research by the University of Warwick.
The science is clear: gestures that improve nurses engagement, motivation, and happiness are boons to projects big and small.
Hospitals that embrace a culture of caring are reinventing the workplace, building long-lasting structures of support to increase productivity and improve overall happiness for managers and nurses alike.
At ALIVE in Healthcare, we acknowledge the importance of working from the top down so that nurses and frontline staff feel supported by their leaders. We call this Relationship-centred care. We need to do more for our nurses and realize they are often the first impression of an organization. Would you like to continue the conversation?
Discover our Nursing Leadership Circles or contact me.