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New job seekers, start by researching workplace culture

Workplace culture is a 21st-century business buzz phrase. While we may choose our workplaces based primarily on salary and benefits, culture is another important consideration when looking for employment. Culture reflects the organizational philosophy, including the approach to human resources, the environment, employee wellness, collaboration and its management style.

Obstacles to a positive workplace culture

For  nurses, policies regarding mandatory overtime and nurse-patient ratios are reflective of a facility’s culture in relation to the management of nursing resources. If nurses feel these policies are not in line with their staffing needs, they may not feel supported by leadership and they may even feel alienated from the organizational culture.

Bullying, also known as horizontal or lateral violence, is a recognized problem within our profession. A workplace tolerant of bullies and aberrant behavior creates a culture where staff feel unsafe and at risk.

Likewise, if collaboration between physicians and nurses is suboptimal, a nurse may feel subservient and less effective. Nurses who find themselves in unsafe or unhealthy environments are smart to move on.

Finding a good fit

A limited amount of information is available to a nurse when sitting in a job interview or reviewing a potential employer’s website. If a nurse interviewee asks about company culture, she will no doubt receive a positive framing of the organization, and a corporate website will put the best face on its mission, values and culture.

An effective way for a nurse to research the practiced culture of a potential employer is to speak with those who have worked for the organization in the past or who are currently employed by the organization. Other nurses are powerful sources of information about practices related to nurses, and no amount of questions to an interviewer will elucidate that which an actual employee can provide.

Certain hospitals or healthcare employers have reputations that are undeniably positive; others’ track records may be somewhat less stellar. If the nurse applicant can find information regarding previous work stoppages, strikes or union activity, this may provide valuable insight. If a hospital is unionized, union leaders and members can be excellent sources.

Researching and asking questions will only reveal so much. Sometimes, we have to go with our intuition, basing our choice of employer on instinct. Once inside, nurses must continue to assess how they are treated, the level of collaboration, the ways in which management interacts with staff and the general zeitgeist of the organization.

Nurses thrive in a workplace culture if they are treated with respect and given a voice. Room for growth and advancement also are signs of a positive workplace culture. It’s important that nurses value themselves enough to find an organization where they are valued and supported and where the workplace culture lends itself to collaboration, nursing excellence and unmitigated support.

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By | 2020-04-15T16:42:10-04:00 September 16th, 2016|Categories: Nursing Careers and Jobs|Tags: |0 Comments
Keith Carlson, BSN, RN, NC-BC
Keith Carlson, BSN, RN, NC-BC, is the Board Certified Nurse Coach behind and the award-winning blog, Digital Doorway. Keith is co-host of, a popular nursing podcast, and also hosts The Nurse Keith Show, his own podcast focused on career advice and inspiration for nurses. A widely published writer, Keith is the author of “Savvy Networking For Nurses: Getting Connected and Staying Connected in the 21st Century.” He brings a plethora of experience as a nursing thought leader, holistic career coach, writer and nurse entrepreneur.

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