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Building a Good Working Relationship: A Key to Reducing Increasing Stress Levels Amongst Nurses

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Nurses can reduce stress through a variety of means. One of the ways nurses can reduce workplace stress is by developing and maintaining a good working relationship. This article shows how nurses can maintain a good working relationship and the benefits that they'll get doing that.

by Maxwell Kpeem Maxwell Kpeem (New)

Specializes in OPD, Ward, General Nursing Practice. Has 4 years experience.

How do YOU develop and maintain a good working relationship?

Building a Good Working Relationship: A Key to Reducing Increasing Stress Levels Amongst Nurses

Working in the health sector can be so demanding and as such very stressful in this 21st century. No matter the category (Doctor, nurse, lab technician, etc.) in which you find yourself, you will most likely sail through some moments to forget. It is even more stressful for nurses because we form the majority of the health care profession and spend more time with the clients.

Stress

Nurses are often faced with two main stressors which include emotional or psychological stress and physical stress.

Emotional / Psychological Stress

The emotional or psychological stress, mostly, comes in the form of suffering or empathising with the client. There are times that nurses have to soak themselves in the very pool of pain and distress their clients are going through in other to understand the sort of care they need. This can be sometimes refreshing when you are dealing with simple clients or emotionally draining when dealing with a complicated client. Another thing that can make this encounter stressful is when you have to consider each patient individually and deal with them as such. It’s just like having different personalities at a time.

Physical Stress

The second type of stress nurses suffer is the physical stress which often occurs when nurses are overwhelmed by the sheer number of clients they care for in a day due to either a shortage in the number of staff or an increase in the number of clients which may be as a result of a pandemic, the like of which we are facing in the world today. There are other times, too, when too much improvisation makes the work tedious to deal with. Working with the right tools and equipment, on the other hand makes the work much less stressful physically.

Medical-Legal Issues

Present day enlightenment has made medico-legal issues, which are now on the rise, add its weight to these stresses. A nurse will have to judge well before taking a particular action since he or she may not want to be found in the middle of any legal issues. With modern day nursing, nurses perform their duties with caution while paying attention to the slightest of details even in an event of being tired and extremely stressed because the legal structures that exists seems to protect the client’s rights more than that of the nurse and the judge will not hesitate to whack the gavel that will collapse the nurse’s entire career and to add insult to injury, pile a jail term on his or her life.

Nursing Profession is Demanding

With all the above submissions, which are just the little of the lot that nurses face, it will be fitting to say that this profession is one of the most holistically demanding in the world today and here are a few statistics to prove why:

  1. According to a study in 2017 by Kronos Incorporated involving 257 RNs working in US hospitals, 98% of nurses said their work is physically and mentally demanding, 85% reported that their nursing job makes them fatigued overall and 44%  worry that their patient care will suffer because they were so tired.
  2. Another research carried out by Baye et al in government hospitals in Harar, Eastern Ethiopia showed that, out of 398 nurses who participated in the study, two-thirds of those nurses had work related stress.

Reduce Stress

Establish Good Working Relationships

In the midst of all these storms, which are most of the times out of our control, there is actually one area that nurses can do well to excel in and that’s the area of establishing a good working relationship amongst themselves. Good working relationships amongst nurses can actually reduce stress levels to some extent and we will see why by the end of this article.

We are all humans coming from different walks of life. We are different in terms of how we behave towards people, how we approach people who have wronged or offended us and how we accept other people’s approach towards us when we wrong them; this can actually affect our relationship with other nurses or staff at work. First of all, we need to put workplace relationship into comprehension. Workplace relationship is a valuable, positive and interpersonal relationship that enables colleagues to work in harmony for a better end results with regards to productivity. A good workplace relationship prides itself in the following values; trust and respect.

Trust and Respect

As Phil Jackson rightly puts it, "Good teams become great ones when the members trust each other enough to surrender the me for the we," and so for there to be a good working relationship, trust must be developed amongst the working staff. Then comes respect which is another key motivational factor to building a healthy working relationship amongst staff. There is the factor of good and open communication that also serves a catalyst for growing a good working relationship at the workplace.

Increased Productivity

Good working relationships can lead to a happy working environment and a happy working environment means happy workers which in turn leads to increased productivity, all of which occurs through the following means:

1 - Improvement in team work - When there is a good working relationship, teamwork becomes the norm. Workers are able to brainstorm on critical issues, help each other when stuck, move together in one direction and have a common understanding on issues. The nature of a nurse’s work does not give room for individual thinking and solving of issues. Any nurse who tries to do it all alone may end up losing it if care is not taken. However, when there is that tendency to allow other nurses or members of the health care team extend a helping hand, then stress levels are reduced because you go from carrying everything on your shoulder to sharing the responsibility on other team members’ shoulders.

2 - Better customer engagement - Good working relationship results in a better customer engagement, in that, when workers are in good talking terms and are more of friends than enemies, there is an accepted way of approaching and engaging clients instead of everyone using his or her own way to engage the client. For instance, when nurse Apollonia and nurse Olivia are not in good talking terms, nurse Apollonia tries to win the client's trust by saying bad things about nurse Olivia to the client but unfortunately nurse Apollonia has got that completely wrong because that’s not how to win a client’s trust. You don’t win a client’s trust by spreading negative things about your colleague to the client. You win his or her trust by giving the best of care; the sort of care that will result in a quick recovery. Even recommending that your colleague can do a great job as well in your absence can go a long way to win the client’s trust since that gesture will show the client that the staff is united and winning the very heart of the client. And, who wouldn’t want to join a winning team of nurses full of smiles and togetherness? Even the patient being cared for would love to, at least for the moment, be a part of that success story.

Now let’s see how this can also reduce stress levels. With the above scenario, it means nurse Apollonia will always be called upon by the clients if they need anything done because she appears to be the better nurse in their eyes. This would be physically stressful to her and emotionally draining to nurse Olivia because nothing she does for the clients will be appreciated since she is seen as the bad nurse. However, when all the nurses are considered good and their work is always being appreciated in the clients’ eyes, the work is shared, meaning no physical stress for anyone, no emotions are called into play and hence no emotional stress on any nurse as well.   

Improved Employee Retention Rates

Last but not least, a good working relationship also leads to freedom that comes with responsibility, and hence improves employee retention rates. Nurses get the freedom to explore but with the utmost caution when there is that good working relationship amongst staff. There is that freedom to want to learn new things and experiment with procedures that the nurse wouldn’t have gotten the chance to exercise in an otherwise tense working environment; a tense working environment that is as a result of a poor working relationship amongst staff. This makes it easy for workers to want to stay at that post for as long as possible. After all, it is every nurse’s dream to be in a place where he or she feels loved, welcomed and is free to explore his or her potentials.

In Conclusion

There are a lot of issues that the health sector is battling with. Some are wholly administrative problems or none of the workers’ business where as the others are issues that workers can deal with. This article shows that a good working relationship, which is majorly the responsibility of the individual workers to develop, can reduce psychological stress levels and to some extent physical stress ... even in the most tense of working environments.

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References

Well-being index team 2021, Is burnout on the rise? Startling statistics on Nurse Well-being, accessed 20th May, 2021.

Baye et al 2020, Nurses’ work related stress and associated factors in government hospitals in Harar, Eastern Ethiopia: A cross section study, accessed 20th May 2021.

References

Maxwell Kpeem RGN (Diploma); Loves writing and watching soccer.

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