Employers know and understand that occasionally workers become sick and need to request the day off. Those that employ nurses have an added challenge. When a nurse calls in sick, employers must face that patients have one less person to take care of them.
If another nurse can’t cover the sick nurse’s shift, each patient gets substantially less time with a healthcare professional. Even worse, if a sick nurse still reports for their shift, patients who may already be overly susceptible to contracting a cold or flu are now receiving close care from someone who is infected.
The best way employers can avoid the scenarios described above is by actively working toward keeping their nurses healthy. It may cost employers more money short-term, but the effects of having healthy workers in a medical environment more than pays for itself in a few months.
How to Create a Healthy Work Environment for Nurses
Keep Their Work Space Clean
The easiest way to keep nurses healthy is by ensuring they have the cleanliest, most germ-free work environment possible. Nurses can often suffer from compromised immune systems due to the extreme amounts of stress they’re under. Keeping their workspace clean protects them from contracting what they’re exposed to in their day to day work caring for patients.
Encourage those who clean the building to take extra time wiping surfaces near the nurse’s stations with disinfectant, provide nurses with proper sanitary gear and ensure all bodily fluids are removed and cleaned up after as soon as possible. A clean workspace cuts down on spreadable germs, which in turn then cuts down on employee sickness.
Incentivize Their Health
Nurses spend so much time caring for other people’s health that they often neglect their own. According to a study done by the University of Maryland’s School of Nursing, 55 percent of the female nurses they surveyed were considered obese. The reasons? The nurses in the study cited job stress, lack of sleep and irregular work hours.
Being obese is linked to causing weakened immune systems, increased risk of infection and a lower absorption rate in vaccines.
Encourage nurses to take control of their own health by giving them incentives for doing things that are proven to increase their health: Things like losing weight, quitting smoking or exercising at least three days a week. Virtual health challenges help keep nurses healthy by rewarding them for putting their best foot forward in the workplace.
In addition, consider providing your nurses with healthy snacks and drink options while they’re on duty. Their long work days don’t give them a lot of time to sit down and eat a meal, meaning they’re more prone to grab whatever heavily-processed, high-calorie snack is nearby paired with a sugar-heavy coffee to keep them awake. A snack like that can easily take up a large percentage of any person’s daily calorie amount. Make sure nurses have filtered water near their workspace and think about purchasing granola bars or sandwich crackers to have in the break room. A little bit of caring goes a long way in keeping nurses happy and healthy.
Recognize Their Hard Work
It’s important for employers to keep nurses mental health in mind as well as physical health.
One of the easiest things employers can do to keep their nurses happy at their job is to recognize them for their hard work. It takes five minutes – if even – to thank a nurse for picking up an extra shift, volunteering to take a notoriously difficult patient or providing excellent care that exceeds expectations.
That “Thank you” or “We appreciate you!” really goes a long way.
Keep a Full Staff
Nurses get sick just like the rest of us! There are plenty of times when employers tell their nurses they don’t have the resources to afford a nurse calling in sick. This means nurses come into their workplace infected, exposing other nurses, patients and staff members to their sickness.
Having a nurse come into work sick is extremely dangerous for the patients they’re taking care of. In addition, it adds an extra layer of stress to all nurses involved. The sick nurse knows they’re spreading disease by being at work, but also knows that it will cause a lot of stress to the other nurses on staff if they call off. Those nurses would have to pick up the sick nurse’s work, which means each patient gets less individual time from their assigned caretaker.
So instead, the sick nurse comes into work and risks spreading the cold or flu to their patients and coworkers. It’s a lose-lose situation.
The situation becomes much better for everyone when the employer tells their nurses that they shouldn’t come in when they’re feeling ill because there will be a nurse on call willing to take their place. In this scenario, a sick nurse can call off, knowing that a healthy co-worker will be there to help out the remaining staff. The disease isn’t spread and the nurse will be able to rest up, resulting in a faster recovery.
Having a full, trained staff is the most impactful way employers can keep nurses healthy.
However, the budget for keeping a full staff can be tight. PRN Funding understands that — which is why we offer nursing staffing factoring to businesses that need it.
With nurse staffing factoring, your company can ensure it has a steady cash flow available to hire more nurses and meet payroll. Interested in learning more? Give us a call!
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