Nurse leaders often struggle to keep up with the high demand for nursing staff and maintaining employee job satisfaction. If your nurses are dissatisfied, abundant nursing employment opportunities may threaten to increase your turnover rate. One method that might help increase retention is to ensure that your organization supports employee engagement. An engaged employee is more likely to stay with your organization.
Employee efforts to find the right job by changing jobs more frequently is one factor that has contributed to an increase in employee engagement in the workplace. But short-term job satisfaction doesn’t seem to be the only factor affecting engagement. According to the Gallup poll, the number of U.S. workers reporting being more engaged in their work is the highest since Gallup began reporting in the year 2000 at 34 percent. Many nurse leaders recognize the value of employee engagement and list focusing on increasing it as a priority this year.
Looking for a Long-Term Relationship
Competition for nurses, the nursing shortage, and varied employment options that extend outside of the hospital floor, keep recruitment and retention issues foremost in the minds of nurse leaders. The challenges accompanying recruiting staff may make improving employee engagement seem less important, and perhaps even a vague term. Employee engagement is linked to organizational culture. A positive culture can result in higher levels of engagement and contribute to being an organization that’s desirable to work for.
Engagement is especially important to support efforts to recruit and retain newer generations of nurses. Many may have the work to live mindset that places more value on flexible schedules, technology, and engagement. This has many employers making efforts to increase employee engagement, and for a good reason.
Why Is Employee Engagement Important?
Highly engaged employees are often:
- More committed and enthusiastic
- More productive
- Absent less
- Linked to improved quality of care and patient satisfaction
Engaged employees want to help the organization succeed because they care about the organization and they aren’t just going through the motions of performing their job. They’re more willing to invest in themselves to help meet organizational goals. These employees are worth working to keep, and one reason why it’s important to focus on increasing engagement with all your employees.
Methods to Improve Engagement
Although employee engagement is often linked to organizational culture, which can require long-term efforts to see results, there are opportunities for nurse leaders to initiate, or encourage, building employee engagement. Some tasks can be delegated to the nurse manager or supervisor, although it can often be more empowering to the employee if the nurse leader is the one making the extra effort. A few suggestions include:
- Ask employees if they’d like to be involved in projects and committees – to feel as if they’re part of a bigger team
- Recognize employees for good work- recognition is often tied to finding meaning and purpose at work
- Show appreciation ongoing and celebrate successes – praise can be a powerful motivator
- Ensure nurse leaders are visible and connect on a personal level with employees – authentic and engaged leaders can contribute to increasing employee engagement
- Encourage development – show that you care about them as people, and their career success
- Ask for, and accept, feedback – allow expression of ideas and include in decision making to help determine what incentivizes your employees
Engagement Is a Shared Responsibility
Collaborating with employees, and setting clear expectations that nurture employee’s strengths can contribute to positive employee engagement. To be successful, employees want to know what’s expected from their leaders. Ensure that employees know, and managers are conveying, their expectations. Not knowing what’s expected can confuse the employee and can lead to disengagement and job dissatisfaction.
Improving employee engagement isn’t just the organization’s responsibility or that of the nurse leaders. Nurse managers, and employees, also share in the responsibility.
Nurse Managers– Gallup research indicated that often managers are only slightly more engaged than their staff. Consider evaluating the job satisfaction of your managers and nurse leaders. Employees will be less likely to be engaged if their manager is not. You may need to change leadership focus to improvements in communication to build trust and develop authentic relationships.
Employees- If you notice that one unit, or most of the employees from another department, are more engaged than another, instead of getting discouraged, view it as an opportunity for growth. Encourage increased employee involvement, and support, of each other. This may help build an environment, and culture, that can promote joy and meaningful work.
Work Toward Positive Outcomes Together
Increasing employee engagement isn’t usually a quick fix. It should be viewed as an ongoing process that involves efforts to observe and nurture the culture. Nurse leaders who make improving engagement a priority, and consistently communicate their desire to work toward a shared, common goal may develop a more positive employee, and organizational, outcomes.