Focusing on nurse engagement to achieve higher care quality

Patricia Dorgan

Staff engagement is essential to organizational success regardless of industry, but in healthcare, it is especially crucial. Strong workforce management strategies help hospitals and health systems achieve better workforce outcomes, which can lead to better patient outcomes. It can also help navigate everyday challenges and encourage continued focus on improving the patient experience.

One strategy for improving engagement is the deployment of a ‘Collaborative Staffing’ model. In this model, nurses work cooperatively with their managers to create schedules and fill open shifts across the organization, freeing more time for managers to spend on the floor coaching other nurses and addressing patient issues. Empowering and encouraging staff to become more engaged by actively participating in the scheduling process can ultimately translate to better clinical quality and better patient satisfaction.

If nurses aren’t engaged in their job or satisfied in their position care quality can suffer. High stress due to increasing workloads and low staff levels can cause nurse engagement to drop, putting patient care at risk. Fatigue and stress as a result of nurses working extensive periods of overtime can result in serious and potentially life-threatening medical errors. Having the optimal number and skill mix of nurses ensures that they are not handling too many patients or being assigned to patients outside of their training/expertise, which can increase mistakes, stress and burnout.

According to an article for Harvard Business Review written by Towers Watson Talent and Rewards Healthcare Industry Lead Rick Sherwood, Towers Watson research found only 44% of hospital staff in the U.S. are engaged in their jobs. This means the vast majority of nurses and hospital employees may be feeling disconnected from their work and may even feel as if they should look for other career opportunities.

In addition to collaborative staffing strategies, CNOs and nurse managers can track nurse performance through a complete and integrated workforce management system, which can include various types of software, such as hospital staffing and scheduling software and human resources management solutions.

Engaged nurses are committed to their peers, workplace, and delivering better patient care. As the most patient-facing representatives, nurses are in a position to heavily influence the quality of patient care, which is something that cannot be ignored. It’s not enough to simply recognize the importance of staff engagement. Organizations that leverage the power of a truly engaged workforce are in an optimal position to realize better workforce outcomes, and deliver high quality care.

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