Magnet® is a prestigious designation, but the Magnet journey, which is the path hospitals take to earning Magnet status, can be challenging. Hospitals with Magnet status share several, desirable characteristics among their workforce. Chief among them are engaged and highly satisfied nurses. Achieving these characteristics doesn’t just happen; it requires making workforce management an organizational priority.
Focus on nurses. Human resources technology can be used to fully understand the role and position of nursing within an organization. By recognizing and rewarding good nursing talent, organizations foster a positive work environment where staff is fully engaged in the delivery of high quality care.
Advocate for employees. Understanding the vision and incorporating it into the strategic plan is important. Staffing and scheduling, human resources, payroll and patient classification technology all work together to support a positive, empowered working environment.
Demonstrate commitment to empowerment. Self-scheduling tools allow employees to control their own work/life balance and demonstrate trust between employer and employee. Mentoring and role development are also important.
Demonstrate commitment to professional development. Employees should be made to feel like they control their own professional destiny. Encouraging a culture of safety gives employees pride in ownership of their organization’s quality care goals and metrics. Self-service competency testing and management also gives employees more autonomy over their professional development.
Don’t settle for the status quo. Keep innovating. Technology continues to evolve and so should healthcare organizations. Evidence-based practices get better with innovation. Organizations should invest in research and leverage their workforce management tools to the fullest extent. Tapping into integrated technology ensures complete optimization of the workforce.
It goes without saying that prioritizing the workforce is something that doesn’t just benefit hospitals seeking to achieve Magnet status. In this new accountable care-focused environment, engaged, satisfied and highly qualified nursing talent is critical to long-term success.
GE Healthcare is proud to serve many clients with Magnet status. These clients have made workforce management a priority by investing in technology that supports strategies that focus on managing, developing and deploying the healthcare workforce. Hospitals with successful workforce management strategies may realize many benefits, such as attracting and retaining top talent, experiencing low turnover rates, improving patient care metrics, reducing labor costs and elevating staff satisfaction.
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.