When I was a young nurse in my twenties, I once worked in an environment that was truly toxic.
We only worked 7-hour shifts; the work itself was not difficult because all I had to do was help recover patients after surgery. But I remember going home with a throbbing headache every day.
I tried to cope as best as I could, but one day my husband told me to quit that job and trust God to bless me with a better one. I finally quit and got another job where the environment was happier and healthy.
Set this as your end goal
A safe and healthy work environment is not about to create itself. You have to make a deliberate effort to ensure that it happens. Short of which, nothing can be sure.
Creating a healthy work environment is not as difficult as it may seem.
If you are in a position of leadership, you need to set this as your end goal.
A happy, healthy and comfortable work environment is necessary for your staff, and can be achieved without spending a fortune. It boosts productivity and morale, and you spend less time on solving disputes. This gives you more time to focus on your patients and your tasks.
The American Nurses Association (ANA) describes “A Healthy Work Environment [as] one that is safe, empowering, and satisfying.” A healthy work environment “is not merely the absence of real and perceived threats to health, but a place of ‘physical, mental, and social well-being,’ supporting optimal health and safety.”
Nurture a team spirit
Working in teams has been proven to return exponential results. It has been named as synergy. Synergy is the sum-total of the output generated by the people who are working together. Interestingly, their production does not operate in the sense of mathematical addition like; 2+1=3 surprisingly; you will find that 2+1=9 under synergies. Channeled well, the numbers get even higher, there is no limit.
Working well as a team can and does bring out the best in the members. It also helps promote as well as nature unity while developing a sense of being individually valued as opposed to competing against each other.
Open communication channels
Communication is paramount as it acts as the glue to most things. Note that two people cannot walk together unless they are in agreement. Proper communication is what it would take to make it happen. Communication is not imposed; otherwise, it fails to accomplish its objective.
It involves getting the message across and ensuring the recipient understands what is being communicated. The Message has to be modeled such that it is not taken out of context.
Getting feedback necessitates paying attention to their responses and responding to or resolving any hiccups. Communication is not a one-way street, for it to be functional it has to be treated as a street with traffic from both left and right lanes.
The trust factor
Trust is an important aspect too. Without trust, it’s hard to develop a healthy environment because the people cannot rely on the outcomes. Trust is earned; it is not automatic. With systems in place that are consistent and fair, people can develop comfort in the outcomes.
Trust is also like a two-way street. To gain people’s trust, you have to equally trust them. Mistrust generates mistrust and creates a negative atmosphere with many challenges.
Recognition as a culture
Recognizing people and giving credit where it is due should be a given. It encourages people to come out and be their wholesome selves. This reduces the competitive spirit that has the tendency to break apart people on the same team working for a similar outcome.
Encourage the team to recognize each other individually and collectively for their contributions. The example should be set by the team leaders and organization. As a culture, recognition brings people together and dampens selfishness and hoarding within the team, while increasing the element of enjoying what they are doing as one.
Everyone is accountable to everyone. As long as people are accountable they are more likely to be at peace. Knowing that if anything happiness to one, it affects the whole team adds to their level of responsibility. The members look out for one another because the responsibility is collective.
I find that positive reinforcement delivers better results over negative reinforcement -which is usually the preferred option. Positive reinforcement gives people a reason or cause to work toward achieving success.
Attaching results to reinforcement will ensure people are not only progressing but also getting a feel-good result from doing what they do.
Pain has a way of putting people off. We generally steer clear of pain related scenarios, thus making pain a hurdle other than a help. If anything has to be negative, for example getting a point for arriving late, -it has to be fair. Avoid giving some workers you don’t care for late points while favoring others. Soon, everyone will notice the favoritism going on, which will kill their morale.
Top down effect
Having a work environment that is healthy plays a major part in what we can expect from the people in that environment. It minimizes possibilities of conflict because people will respect and appreciate one another.
It is best generated from the top down as that is how it would be meaningful and appreciated. This will result in respect across the board. Short of that, things may turn disastrous very fast.
Leadership has nothing to do with controlling people. If anything, it gives people their freedom and calls on them to be in control of their roles. This builds and generates trust and creates a calm, healthy and peaceful work environment.
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How do you create your healthy work environment?