The COVID-19 pandemic saw many healthcare workers make the difficult choice to leave their healthcare professions for safer and healthier work environments. This mass exodus was felt across the county and across the world.
In a report by the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI), the overall supply of healthcare professionals increased in 2020, with Nurse Practitioners seeing the largest increase, growing by approximately 8%. By April of 2020, nearly 6000 nurses, occupational therapists, physiotherapists, and pharmacists responded to the call and re-entered the workforce to provide support across Canada. In order to support this re-entry to the workforce, many regulatory bodies waved or modified license reinstatement requirements allowing for the quickest return to work for healthcare professionals answering the call to return.
Now that healthcare workers are starting to return to the workplace, the question becomes how do we keep them?
Let’s start with your clinic/office’s physical space. Ensuring that the environment your employees work in all day is well lit with natural light and plants will create a more inviting atmosphere. Make sure your space is well organized – everything in its place – and walkways are clear of clutter. You want to set your employees up for success and as much enjoyment during their day as you can. Making sure that your front desk area is spacious enough for the number of employees that will be using the area, that the desks and chairs are good quality, and even offering the option of a standing desk or two will go along way to promoting the physical and mental health of your employees.
When you go to hire new employees, it is worth talking to your current employees about the work environment and the qualities that the new employee(s) should have to fit in with the existing culture in your office. Making sure that your employees will work well together will go a long way towards retaining the employees that you have and the ones you hire in the future.
Another suggestion would be to ask a current employee to attend interviews with you. They will be able to help you assess your applicants and whether they will be a good fit for your workplace. Plus, having a say in the hiring process will show your employees that you are listening to them and that you value their input. The workplace is like a big family environment, and everyone should have the ability and freedom to speak up about their needs and wants.
Caring Support has spent some time over the last few weeks polling our social media followers to see what they look for in job descriptions. It was found that the majority of job seekers are looking for job descriptions to include: wages, mention of benefits, bullet points instead of run-on paragraphs, the distinction between must-have skills and desired skills and last, but certainly least, good online reviews of your workplace and business.
Nothing is more frustrating than equipment that doesn’t work the way it should. This goes for the computers your employees will use to log data all the way to medical and/or surgical equipment. This can mean that you will have to make an investment in your office/clinic, however, updating your computer systems would be a ‘cheaper’ place to start. Upgrade your computers, software, and printers and make sure that your WiFi stretches across the whole building/office will go a long way in relieving stress from your employees. You don’t want them to be in the middle of filling out paperwork or forms and have their computer be slower moving than molasses in December.
All work environments can get stressful at times. Providing your employees with a specific place to sit down and destress on their breaks or when needed is important and one of the best ways you can combat stress and mental burnout in your workplace.
Making sure that a space is relaxing and de-stressing is not as hard as it may seem. Pick a room big enough to set up a small kitchenette area where employees can warm up food and keep their meals cool in a refrigerator. This space should have a place where they can sit and comfortably enjoy their meal(s) and where they can be comfortable and able to shut the door to distractions that may interrupt their break time(s).
It is also important that employees are encouraged to take their small break(s) and their meal break(s) on schedule and that they are allowed to complete those breaks with as few work distractions as possible.
If you feel like stepping up the enjoyment opportunities for your break room, try setting up a TV with cable or Netflix, a couple of decks of cards, quick-to-play board games, or another enjoyable item that you think your employees would like and use on their breaks.
Also, don’t forget to fill the break room with healthy snacks and drinks and occasionally bring in pizza or another delivery food to really show your employees how much you appreciate them.
In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, there is more pressure on healthcare workers to not bring home any sicknesses with them. One of the ways you can help with this is to provide a space where your employees can change their clothes and shower (if they want to) before heading home. Ensure that there are lots of sanitization stations and clean bathrooms for employees only to wash up when needed through the day.
Support is not simply getting your employees to read the employee manual and stating that they are aware of the support that is available to them. Support is making sure that you remind your employees of that support and if you see someone struggling, reaching out to talk or offer positive encouragement goes a long way. We are all humans, and we all have bad days. It is hard for some to “leave their home life at the door” (we have all been there before) and a simple check-in might be the difference between a bad day and a decent day.
Instead of letting complaints or frustrations fester within your office, Try setting aside an hour every other week to promote a “Co-Worker Support Group” where you get everyone together to chat about how things are going, what improvements or changes are needed, and to iron out any grievances that your employees may have. Provide a warm, fresh lunch for your employees and don’t forget to listen to what they have to say.
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Staffing issues will require ongoing attention as we continue to deal with the fall-out from the pandemic, but by taking the advice listed above and heading over to caringsupport.com to post your open healthcare jobs, you will be well on your way to hiring quality healthcare employees and keeping them long-term.
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