With budget cuts and restructuring, it seems everyone is doing more with less. For nurses who are already at high risk for burnout, low morale can be a pervasive pandemic that quickly spreads throughout the entire team.
Try implementing one (or all!) of these morale boosters at your workplace. Make work fun again.
1. Create a sunshine fund
How many nurses do you work with? 20? 50? 100? What if everyone put $1 a month in an envelope and hung onto it until someone has a rough time? Maybe they’ve had a bad run of patient assignments, or a favorite patient passed away. Or they lost a spouse or have an ailing parent. You can give them the cash, send them flowers, or buy them a massage, without feeling like you’re emptying your already shallow pockets.
2. Implement a Reiki program
If you work with any nurses who are Reiki certified, you might be able to organize a few hours a week for them to provide Reiki to coworkers. At the hospital where I used to work, one nurse came in for several hours during one day and one evening shift just to provide Reiki to those who signed up. She was paid as part of a healthy employees initiative. Many people, including me, took her up on it. It made me feel like our institution cared about our well-being.
3. Hand out “Strong Work” awards — often
Create a small area to store scrap paper and aim to write a “Strong Work” award to your coworkers as often as you notice something great. It doesn’t need to be for a heroic measure. It can be for witnessing a meaningful interaction with a patient or for a nurse who never gets to lunch but manages to take a lunch break one day. Help others see the good work they’re doing every day.
4. Help put a positive spin on staff meetings
How often does your boss hear about the good work their staff is doing? They might not always know about all of the great things going on out there. Why not ask if the staff can initiate staff meeting mentions, maybe one of those “Strong Work” awards can make it into that box. In this way, you’re alerting your boss to all of the positive goings on around the unit and encouraging them to give positive feedback.
5. Start a mentor program
That first year as a new nurse is one of the most challenging we ever face. Research shows that having a mentoring program is associated with lower turnover rates and higher job satisfaction for both the mentor and mentee. Keep those new grades and even the new (but experienced) additions to your team feeling supported. It will make you happier at work, too.
6. Pilot a morale committee
Pull a few people together to create a morale team. Let other staff know what you’re doing and ask them for ideas and input. Try to organize some coworker outings every now and again — make sure it’s clear that the event is open to all. And there’s only one rule — no talking about work! Make outings an opportunity to get to know coworkers outside of the usual stressors and complaints you face everyday.
How do you think morale can improve on your unit? What has worked for your team in the past? What hasn’t? Let Scrubbed In and your fellow nurses know!