Jump to content

Tips to improve morale

Posted

Has 1 years experience.

I'm a floor nurse starting with a team at work to improve morale.  With our high turnover at baseline amplified by the pandemic..We need help! Any tips for things that have worked on your respective units?

MunoRN, RN

Specializes in Critical Care. Has 10 years experience.

I don't think you can address low morale without first assessing for why morale is low, otherwise it's like asking "what can I do to help this patient get better?" without saying why they aren't well.

Sour Lemon

Has 9 years experience.

19 minutes ago, travellingnurse1 said:

I'm a floor nurse starting with a team at work to improve morale.  With our high turnover at baseline amplified by the pandemic..We need help! Any tips for things that have worked on your respective units?

I'd bet one trillion zillion dollars that your team does not have the power to make any sort of meaningful changes.  😉

If I'm wrong (doubtful), then ask the employees what they want and give it to them.

travellingnurse1

Has 1 years experience.

Although some issues have to do with our leadership team, some things we are facing are a super junior crew with a pretty acute floor.  Another thing is that I think people feel underappreciated. 

 

Some things I was thinking of include quick access to key meds/situations we deal with on our unit to address the junior crew.  And to address the under appreciation, some type of shout out corner where we can shout each other out.

 

I know there are a lot of issues on inpatient units where the floor staff can't make meaningful changes, what I'm looking for is things we CAN do to help the situation.  Im not okay with allowing this sinking ship to continue without some effort on my part!

TheMoonisMyLantern, ADN, LPN, RN

Specializes in Mental health, substance abuse, geriatrics, PCU. Has 14 years experience.

I think it's great that you want to take action on your unit. I think the most important thing that you can do is to have a positive attitude when you go into work and as your encounter challenges in your day. I know it sounds like as though that is useless, but dispositions are contagious and it can be uplifting to others to see you calm and helpful even when chaos has taken over the floor. To be the calm within the storm is not easy but it can provide a lot of support to those around you.

There have been other threads on AN about different things to lift morale, including what you suggested, having a shout out corner. A lot of the threads came to the conclusion that short of fixing the systemic issues that degrade morale in the first place, other interventions can be like placing a band aide over a gaping wound. I know that sounds disheartening, and by all means maybe on your floor something will help, but in my experience anything other than providing proper staffing and equipment is nothing but lip service.

Good luck.

Davey Do

Specializes in around 25 years psych, 10 years medical. Has 42 years experience.

I wanted to throw this situation in just for consideration:

My medical nurse wife Belinda worked at Wrongway Regional Medical Center in med surg for well over a decade. Her floor was always short of supplies and staffing was not up to par. Belinda is a very good nurse and made the best of it.

At my suggestion a few years ago, she applied and got a position at a better facility closer to home, Anomaly Memorial Hospital, in IMU. Supplies were plentiful and staffing was better.

However, there were two bad apple nurses, one being charge, who were real b*****s. Belinda was generally pleased with her new job, but there wasn't the old umph there anymore.

Some time ago, a nurse was pulled to the floor, the charge nurse rode him, and he filed complaints with HR. A lot of things happened, seemingly together. The supervisor was replaced and the bad apple nurses were called on the carpet.

Belinda has her old umph back, not having to deal with a laissez-faire supervisor and the bad apples. I think it all drained her energy and lowered her morale.

Like I said, just a thought.

 

17 hours ago, TheMoonisMyLantern said:

I think it's great that you want to take action on your unit. I think the most important thing that you can do is to have a positive attitude when you go into work and as your encounter challenges in your day.

Agree with this.

Be an example of someone who just purposely operates on a different plane, or with a different narrative, the core of which is to stay focused on taking good care of patients. (Which, in case it needs to be said, actual good care is not necessarily comprised of all the same things management might value).

People become downtrodden because they are constantly being told, in numerous ways, that they aren't doing good enough. Nothing is independently going to improve that situation except writing it off as BS that needs to be completely ignored (rejected) so that good things can be accomplished in spite of the wrong/abusive narrative. 

Often what happens when some well-meaning people are charged with fixing this is that their efforts are not appreciated since they aren't what people really need, and then they (the fixers) end up getting mad at the group for not appreciating their efforts.

It's better to go at this more organically.

There is a lot that won't "work" like some sort of magic fix. But doing your part to lift others up instead of getting sucked into the quagmire is doable. THAT is something you can choose to do.

18 hours ago, travellingnurse1 said:

Although some issues have to do with our leadership team, some things we are facing are a super junior crew with a pretty acute floor.  Another thing is that I think people feel underappreciated

The root of both of those things is people other than your target audience. 🤨😉

Merrie82, RN

Specializes in Medical Surgical.

So, obviously my experience is more from working in psych than as a nurse bc I'm new to nursing....But, morale is morale, and there is a lack or staffing, support, experience,  etc in psych as much as in nursing. (Insert sinking 🚤 meme here 🤣). So, here are my thoughts:

While I agree that the root causes of low morale may be outside of your group's control, there are always things that can help make the day better that ARE in your control. Obviously #1 would be that good attitude that was mentioned,  but that can be easier said than done when you're gasping for breath like Rose from the titanic movie (I hated that movie btw, but still hanging with that sinking ship analogy).

I feel like in every high stress job the team relationships were the reason I either loved or hated my job. If I could rely on my coworkers, and they could rely on me, we usually had a pretty good day.

Sure we were drowning, but we were doing it together! 

The other key? Food and caffeine, LOL.

In all seriousness though, silly things like having planned themed pot lucks on weekends where people bring in, say, Mexican food dishes, and have them in the break room to share among the crew, can help a little. Or making a point of bringing in coffees for the whole team, and everyone takes turns doing this (coffee is LIFE imo). Hanging funny comic strip in the lunch area, or on the doors inside the bathroom. Music playing real low in the med room. One time at one of my old jobs we painted a mural on the wall in the entryway.  At my very first job in mental health working in a staff intensive group home we used to have dance party breaks during "quiet time" (quiet time for the clients, they were in their rooms, we danced in the kitchen 🤣🤣). Small things is my point. Small things can make a huge difference. 

IDK how your team does with helping each other, but if one person starts it with a simple "hey, what can I help you with right now?" It tends to be catchy. We are all always busy, and with an inexperienced team, y'all probably feel even more so than normal, but once that dynamic of helping each other when u have a second starts to take hold, it can really make the day a little bit better. Now everyone may be drowning,  but there's a bit of driftwood in the water to hold on to. I'm not saying you all don't already do that, just saying what has worked for me.

And lastly, IDK if you have either a) gossip issues, Or b) the shift wars thing happening? Those both can be huge morale murderers. Trying to change those can be murder too...but sometimes successful. 

Anyhow, I wish you all the luck in your group and I hope your work morale gets a tiny bit higher as you rock your new mission ❤.

SmilingBluEyes

Specializes in Specializes in L/D, newborn, GYN, LTC, Dialysis. Has 24 years experience.

I agree with being an example and being kind/helpful. Some environments are toxic, however, and nothing we can do can change that.  Yours sounds like there is hope in that you say you have a good crew. But is your management/admin toxic? If so, good luck.

Davey Do

Specializes in around 25 years psych, 10 years medical. Has 42 years experience.

11 hours ago, Merrie82 said:

One time at one of my old jobs we painted a mural on the wall in the entryway. 

We are, Merrie, Cosmic Cousins.

The Director of the Psych Side at Wrongway Regional Medical Center commissioned me to paint the doors inside of the unit to appear as a wall. Having had commissions for Anomaly Little Theatre to paint murals for plays and musicals, I had quite a bit of experience with trompe l'oeil

I painted a stone wall with arches and a couple more windows that matched the two actual windows. The door handle became a salamander climbing the wall with its twin painted on the opposing side.

Not only was I paid my nursing salary for the artwork, I received accolades from many of the staff. My work wife Eleanor commented that patients with dementia and Alzheimers did not stand at the door rattling the handle as before.

On 2/17/2021 at 12:31 AM, Sour Lemon said:

I'd bet one trillion zillion dollars that your team does not have the power to make any sort of meaningful changes. 

In this instance, even the Director did not possess the power to keep a meaningful change.

An agent from some surveying entity was on the unit checking out some complaint. He saw the doors I had painted to look like a wall and said, "There's an exit sign there, but it doesn't look like an exit" (Well, yeah, duh, that's the point!) and demanded the doors be painted over.

We can only do so much.

For some reason, I am not always motivated to take pics of my artwork, as in this instance, but here's painted rough of the stonework:

 

wall.thumb.jpg.80fc0458b1b55e40e0b4ea6828cc413f.jpg

JBMmom, MSN

Specializes in Long term care; med-surg; critical care. Has 9 years experience.

I think it's very admirable that you and some coworkers are undertaking this task. I was on a similar type of team a few years ago and I was increasingly frustrated when none of my suggestions got off the ground.

One of the problems is that everyone has their own motivations and their own idea of the best way to show appreciation. We tried something like the shout out corner and some nurses viewed it as a popularity contest and some were frustrated that others appeared to be congratulated for doing *just* their job when they felt they were going above and beyond with no recognition. You can't please all the people all the time.

I know that for me, I don't expect or respond to much outside acknowledgment related to my job. And I fast at work, so food is out for me. If I walk out in the morning knowing in my heart that my patient is at least a little better off than when I punched in, that's good enough for me. I try to be generous with my compliments of others because I know that other people appreciate recognition and I hope that I can do my part to provide that kind of feedback. 

I agree with other responses that being a positive force on your unit is the single most important thing you can do. I try not to engage in any of the gossip that occurs, but I admit sometimes I can get dragged down into it as well. I know you were looking for ideas and you're already aware there are challenges. I don't want to rain on your parade, I guess the best you can do is ask the nurses what they want and see what you get for responses. 

Good luck, I hope you find the magic potion!

I find that good pay, adequate staffing, sick leave, paid vacation, and good health benefits correlate directly with good morale.

On 2/17/2021 at 12:35 AM, travellingnurse1 said:

  And to address the under appreciation, some type of shout out corner where we can shout each other out.

 

 

That is a good example of patching holes on the worn out denim, when you need a new pair. If the underlying cause of lack of morale is understaffing and high turnover, it would be an insult to any intelligent RN to offer a shout out corner as remedy. I remember having the burden of getting 3 patients in the ICU once when one of the patients qualified to be 1:1 on more than 1 factor (fresh Impella/balloon pump and CRRT w citrate) additionally, the pt. was on an insulin infusion and 3 vasopressors/inotropes, heparin gtt etc).

The powers that be saw it fit to give me a psych patient and a post-CABG day 2 pt that needed to get lines D/C'd and transfer. Torturous task, because I "could handle it". I expressed my concern about patient safety, but to no avail. The tone-deaf, unencumbered, and in no uncertain terms, imbecilic manager bought pizza as solace. Talk about lack of leadership.

How about you put on scrubs and get your hands dirty rather than patrolling the unit, combing through irrelevant details like who's doing bedside report and who did not write their names on the white board. The pizza gesture irritated all fibers of my anatomy. Work me like a mule then feed me swine. Ugh! 

Edited by cynical-RN

Pepper The Cat, BSN, RN

Specializes in Gerontology. Has 35 years experience.

Here’s how Shout Out Corners work.

At first they are OK.

But then, someone from the not popular crowd will get a Shout Out.

This will annoy the Popular Crowd. So the Popular Crown will give Shout Outs to each other. And post things like “ Great team today “ when there is a shift of all Popular Crowd people. 
in the end, the result is a bunch of hurt people because their efforts are over shadowed by the Popular Crowds self congratulations 

 

 

 

 

 

SarHat17, ADN

Specializes in CVRU, Intermediate. Has 9 years experience.

My first reaction to previous posts was 1. every reply is negative, and 2. I agree with most of it.

We were all asked for similar ideas regarding morale and resiliency recently, and while I am more in the Susie Sunshine camp, I know they were asking for little bits like food days and co-worker compliments, when really, CONSISTENTLY staffing the unit fully is one of the best ways to boost morale/show respect for our work I can think of. (There has been major turnover on my unit, with significant change from cardiac/CVRU focus to ICU stepdown with BiPap/AirVo Covid patients. We have 10 rooms that often have those patients in every part of their journey from crashing and moving up to the ICU, transitioning to comfort care and passing on our unit, and long-haulers that are waiting for a spot in a LTACH to open because they can't go anywhere else with the amount of O2 they need. Honestly, it's emotionally and physically exhausting. And angering. But that's a rant against Covid for another post. ) Add together the staff turnover, (which necessitates much of the shift staffed with float and agency staff instead of a more consistent core team), high acuity/high emotional stress of and from our patients, multiple orientees, AND 1st year nursing students twice a week, sometimes 2 to a RN, because they can't take Covid. Sigh. 

*I'm not against/negative about orienting or students, but as one of the only qualified preceptors for my unit, we are tapped to precept a lot, and students on the floor change the dynamic of the shift a little as well. It all adds up.

Some things that help morale in my opinion are smiles and acknowledging each other throughout the day. Everyone pitching in to help. Cleaning up around the nursing station/supply/break rooms. Peep your head in to isolation rooms when you see another staff member in there and ask if they need anything. Say Thank You and Please! Grab the VS/BG on your patients when you have time, instead of waiting for the CNA to do it. Best of Luck!