10 Ways Nurse Leaders Can Make Work Enjoyable for Staff

  1. Nursing leadership should not be all about work and no play! Learn ways to make your unit more enjoyable for the nurses you with with every day.

    10 Ways Nurse Leaders Can Make Work Enjoyable for Staff

    Being a nurse leader is stressful. You lead a team of nurses who have hard jobs. They deal with death and sadness on the daily. Oh, and let's not even start the discussion about staffing issues.

    It may seem that every time you step out of your office, you are only there to deliver bad news. Well, let's change that (at least for today)!

    Let's talk fun. Yes, fun and nursing do go together, it is just hard to remember it sometimes. Let's replenish your nurse leader "fun bucket" with some ideas to bring fun back to your unit!

    HOW TO MAKE WORK FUN

    1. Team Building Activities

    Most people, will scrunch their noses up at the idea of playing games in meetings, but they work! Let's face it, your staff are busy and may find it hard to connect with other members of the team. Team building activities push their hand at learning more about the people they serve with every day.

    2. Nurse Centered Culture

    Do everything you can to make your unit about your nurses. They will appreciate it more than you may know. Plan events and be intentional in recognizing success both at work and in life.

    3. Give Back as a Team

    Nothing builds camaraderie quite like volunteering together. Here are few ideas:

    Adopt-a-Family at Thanksgiving or Christmas - Find a local family that needs a little help during the holiday season. Create a fun bulletin board to list the items they need or decorate a tree with ornaments with gift ideas written on them. Let the staff buy gifts and then deliver them together to the family.

    Health Fairs - Represent your hospital at the local health fair by organizing a small team of nurses to work together. You can provide health screenings and enjoy some stress-free time together as a team.

    Support Others - Organize a team for a local 5K that aligns with your unit, such as a breast cancer walk for an oncology unit or diabetes walk for a clinic. Events like these allow your team to work together to raise awareness while building relationships.

    4. Food

    Nurses love food, this is no secret. And, you barely get it most days. So, organize a potluck once a month and let them eat!

    5. Fun Awards

    You don't have to be serious about stats and surveys all that time. Create some fun awards that you can give out at staff meetings. Here are a few creative ideas:

    Flexibility Award - Got a nurse who will bend over backward to help others? Give him or her play-doh or a slinky.

    Bright Idea - Foster creativity by asking for bright ideas. When you chose one, give them a pair of cheap and fun sunglasses for their "brightness."

    Keep a running supply of sweets - Everyone having a rough day? Hand out a pack of lifesavers or crack open a bag of bite-size candy bars and add a little sweetness to their day.

    6. Motivate

    You don't have to have a meeting to offer encouragement. Hang motivational quotes around the nurse's station, in the staff bathroom, and on locker doors. Make sure to have a variety of fun, serious, and downright hysterical quotes to keep them smiling!

    7. Celebrate

    Don't miss the opportunity to celebrate with these lovely people. Have a list of birthdays and plan a monthly cake and ice cream day. If you have staff going back to school, getting married, or having babies: plan a celebration!

    8. After Work Adventures


    Yes, someone will always have to work in this crazy 24/7/365 world of yours, but that is no reason not to plan outings. Plan a trip to a local sporting event, casino, amusement park, or bowling alley. Whatever sounds like fun for the majority of your nurses, plan it.

    Oh, and attend! Nurse leaders often feel like an outsider when staff gets together. The only person that can change that is YOU! Go with them. Get involved. Connect with these people that help you meet unit goals every day.

    9. Build Community

    Yes, you can recognize them all you like, and they will appreciate it. But, nothing says recognition quite like getting it from your peers. Facilitate their ability to thank one another with a simple "Pat on the Back" bulletin board.

    Decorate a bulletin board. Cut out some brightly colored hand shapes, buy some fun colored pens and let them give each other a "pat on the back" that others can see. It will be everyone's favorite place to spend a few minutes each day for encouragement.

    10. Ask for Feedback

    No matter what activities you do, ask for their help and feedback. It is their unit too, and they can tell you what they like and don't like. You may even find that everyone participates more if you have a "Fun Committee" that plans activities for each shift.


    Nurse leaders have stressful jobs and can get lost in the rules, data, and goals. Don't forget to have fun with your nurses. Do you have a great idea to share with other nurse leaders who need a new way to add fun to their unit? Share in the comments below and get the creative juices flowing!
    Last edit by Joe V on Jun 14
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    20 Comments

  3. by   Wuzzie
    1. No! No! And did I say, no!
    2. Yes!
    3. C-yes!
    4. Definitely yes!
    5. Yes!
    6. NO!
    7. Yes!
    8. Yes!
    9. Yes!
    10. Yes!

    That is all.
  4. by   NightNerd
    I actually do like 5 and 7. It means a lot to know that my manager sees my contributions, even (especially?) when the recognition is cheesy. It is also really nice to be seen as a whole human being and to celebrate milestones with the people I see more than my own family.

    For 8, YMMV, but this past year, my manager arranged for our float pool to cover our unit so everyone could attend our holiday party. I thoughtit was awesome to give us all the chance to go, even for a couple hours.
  5. by   klone
    Quote from NightNerd
    For 8, YMMV, but this past year, my manager arranged for our float pool to cover our unit so everyone could attend our holiday party. I thoughtit was awesome to give us all the chance to go, even for a couple hours.
    I so wish we could do that.
  6. by   pixierose
    Is it me, or am I the only one who dreads team building activities? They do a number on my social anxiety. I think I'm a good team member, throwing in my muscle and giving it my all even when unasked. But gah, I freeze when walking around a room trying to find someone who grew up halfway around the world or who might have a sister whose name starts with the letter "Z."

    Plus, at meetings? I want to use my time to talk about issues about the unit. There is always something to discuss ...
  7. by   Pepper The Cat
    Quote from pixierose
    Is it me, or am I the only one who dreads team building activities? They do a number on my social anxiety. I think I'm a good team member, throwing in my muscle and giving it my all even when unasked. But gah, I freeze when walking around a room trying to find someone who grew up halfway around the world or who might have a sister whose name starts with the letter "Z."

    Plus, at meetings? I want to use my time to talk about issues about the unit. There is always something to discuss ...
    I hate team building stuff. It is not fun for me.
    Pot lucks are great for the people on first break, second break gets the food already picked over.
    After work activities are great if you can afford them. But sometimes people may not be able afford a night out. And will get be accused of not being a team member if they don't participate.

    You want me to be happy at work? Staff the unit correctly. Make sure I have the supplies and equipment we need. And deal with the pts and families that abuse us.
  8. by   Leader25
    Make work fun? since when is short staffing not going to the bathroom for hours and no meals fun?

    As for feedback ? as if you really care and can you handle the truth?

    ZZZZZZZZZZZZZ
  9. by   VivaLasViejas
    Quote from Pepper The Cat
    I hate team building stuff. It is not fun for me.
    Pot lucks are great for the people on first break, second break gets the food already picked over.
    After work activities are great if you can afford them. But sometimes people may not be able afford a night out. And will get be accused of not being a team member if they don't participate.

    You want me to be happy at work? Staff the unit correctly. Make sure I have the supplies and equipment we need. And deal with the pts and families that abuse us.
    This. ^^ I hated team-building activities, not because I was shy or introverted (I'm not), but because they all seemed so silly. I'm with the PP, I wanted proper staffing, adequate amounts of supplies and backup when patients/residents and their families were being unreasonable or abusive. Didn't get it most times. Oh well, one can always hope.
  10. by   ponymom
    Oh good lord, honestly this is so embarrassing to even read, and I haven't even been a practicing nurse for a few years now..

    1. Team building activities: Here's an idea for one...how about physically building the team by adding more staff? And those games? Really stupid and insulting. Nurses would rather eat instead. Team-building activities don't last past a couple weeks, adding staff is the only thing that works.
    2. Nurse centered culture: If you really care about your staff, you'll add more of them on..enough said.
    3. Give back as a team: This works only if nurses don't feel pressured to engage. Overworked nurses just don't want to volunteer private time to a work-related outing.
    4. Food: Fresh and hot for all shifts, plus get the suits out of their caves to serve and staff the unit so the nurses can have proper time to actually enjoy their meal.
    5. Fun Awards: oh for the love of all things holy you can't be serious here, you just can't. The special awards in my factory job are more appropriate than this. For Christ's sake, your advocating handing out cheap kids toys to understaffed licensed medical professionals. What a slap in the face..Good God...
    6. Motivate: The only quote nurses really appreciate seeing is "please welcome our new nurse(s) ___________(____) who will be starting today...As far as hanging a quote in the staff bathroom, your wasting your time as understaffed nurses don't get to see the inside of one..
    7.Celebrate: All well and good, but I'll gaurantee the only thing any nurse really wants to celebrate is the addition of extra staff.
    8.After work adventures: See #3 Overworked nurses are tired and frustrated. Besides they're mandated because of poor staffing policies. Focus on that for an adventure instead.
    9. Building community: I did this bulletin board thing with a bunch of kindergartners once and it was great fun. I would never treat my professional coworkers this way. Build the community by adding more staff to it. Save the money on the pens for their new-staff-welcoming potluck meal, which the suits all serve so all the staff can enjoy.
    10. Ask for feedback: When (and if) you ask for feedback, really listen to the only thing that truly matters, proper staffing, and just forget about all this other insulting and maddening silliness.

    Oh, and as far as having a "Fun Committee", ain't nobody got time for that.
  11. by   Pepper The Cat
    Quote from ponymom
    Oh good lord, honestly this is so embarrassing to even read, and I haven't even been a practicing nurse for a few years now..

    1. Team building activities: Here's an idea for one...how about physically building the team by adding more staff? And those games? Really stupid and insulting. Nurses would rather eat instead. Team-building activities don't last past a couple weeks, adding staff is the only thing that works.
    2. Nurse centered culture: If you really care about your staff, you'll add more of them on..enough said.
    3. Give back as a team: This works only if nurses don't feel pressured to engage. Overworked nurses just don't want to volunteer private time to a work-related outing.
    4. Food: Fresh and hot for all shifts, plus get the suits out of their caves to serve and staff the unit so the nurses can have proper time to actually enjoy their meal.
    5. Fun Awards: oh for the love of all things holy you can't be serious here, you just can't. The special awards in my factory job are more appropriate than this. For Christ's sake, your advocating handing out cheap kids toys to understaffed licensed medical professionals. What a slap in the face..Good God...
    6. Motivate: The only quote nurses really appreciate seeing is "please welcome our new nurse(s) ___________(____) who will be starting today...As far as hanging a quote in the staff bathroom, your wasting your time as understaffed nurses don't get to see the inside of one..
    7.Celebrate: All well and good, but I'll gaurantee the only thing any nurse really wants to celebrate is the addition of extra staff.
    8.After work adventures: See #3 Overworked nurses are tired and frustrated. Besides they're mandated because of poor staffing policies. Focus on that for an adventure instead.
    9. Building community: I did this bulletin board thing with a bunch of kindergartners once and it was great fun. I would never treat my professional coworkers this way. Build the community by adding more staff to it. Save the money on the pens for their new-staff-welcoming potluck meal, which the suits all serve so all the staff can enjoy.
    10. Ask for feedback: When (and if) you ask for feedback, really listen to the only thing that truly matters, proper staffing, and just forget about all this other insulting and maddening silliness.

    Oh, and as far as having a "Fun Committee", ain't nobody got time for that.
    I can't like this enough. Well said
  12. by   VivaLasViejas
    Quote from ponymom
    Oh good lord, honestly this is so embarrassing to even read, and I haven't even been a practicing nurse for a few years now..

    1. Team building activities: Here's an idea for one...how about physically building the team by adding more staff? And those games? Really stupid and insulting. Nurses would rather eat instead. Team-building activities don't last past a couple weeks, adding staff is the only thing that works.
    2. Nurse centered culture: If you really care about your staff, you'll add more of them on..enough said.
    3. Give back as a team: This works only if nurses don't feel pressured to engage. Overworked nurses just don't want to volunteer private time to a work-related outing.
    4. Food: Fresh and hot for all shifts, plus get the suits out of their caves to serve and staff the unit so the nurses can have proper time to actually enjoy their meal.
    5. Fun Awards: oh for the love of all things holy you can't be serious here, you just can't. The special awards in my factory job are more appropriate than this. For Christ's sake, your advocating handing out cheap kids toys to understaffed licensed medical professionals. What a slap in the face..Good God...
    6. Motivate: The only quote nurses really appreciate seeing is "please welcome our new nurse(s) ___________(____) who will be starting today...As far as hanging a quote in the staff bathroom, your wasting your time as understaffed nurses don't get to see the inside of one..
    7.Celebrate: All well and good, but I'll gaurantee the only thing any nurse really wants to celebrate is the addition of extra staff.
    8.After work adventures: See #3 Overworked nurses are tired and frustrated. Besides they're mandated because of poor staffing policies. Focus on that for an adventure instead.
    9. Building community: I did this bulletin board thing with a bunch of kindergartners once and it was great fun. I would never treat my professional coworkers this way. Build the community by adding more staff to it. Save the money on the pens for their new-staff-welcoming potluck meal, which the suits all serve so all the staff can enjoy.
    10. Ask for feedback: When (and if) you ask for feedback, really listen to the only thing that truly matters, proper staffing, and just forget about all this other insulting and maddening silliness.

    Oh, and as far as having a "Fun Committee", ain't nobody got time for that.
    I wish it were possible to Like this post 1,000 times. Thank you!
  13. by   Rocknurse
    No to all the above. I can't stand all this Ra Ra stuff. How about they fix staffing, give us a raise, stop floating us and treat us with a little respect. I take that over these poorly disguised moves to pretend they're doing something when they actually give us nothing.
  14. by   That Guy
    You wouldn't have to do any of this nonsense if you had the staffing right. This is all just gimmicks of pulling wool over the eyes.

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