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Bust Low Morale With These 6 Morale Boosters

With budget cuts and restructuring, it seems everyone is doing more with less. For nurses who are already at high risk for burnout, low morale can be a pervasive pandemic that quickly spreads throughout the entire team.

Try implementing one (or all!) of these morale boosters at your workplace. Make work fun again.

Create A Sunshine Fund

How many nurses do you work with? 20? 50? 100? What if everyone put $1 a month in an envelope and hung onto it until someone has a rough time? Maybe they’ve had a bad run of patient assignments, or a favorite patient passed away. Or they lost a spouse or have an ailing parent. You can give them the cash, send them flowers, or buy them a massage, without feeling like you’re emptying your already shallow pockets.

Implement a Reiki Program

If you work with any nurses who are Reiki certified, you might be able to organize a few hours a week for them to provide Reiki to coworkers. At the hospital where I used to work, one nurse came in for several hours during one day and one evening shift just to provide Reiki to those who signed up. She was paid as part of a healthy employees initiative. Many people, including me, took her up on it. It made me feel like our institution cared about our well-being.

Hand Out “Strong Work” Awards — Often

Create a small area to store scrap paper and aim to write a “Strong Work” award to your coworkers as often as you notice something great. It doesn’t need to be for a heroic measure. It can be for witnessing a meaningful interaction with a patient or for a nurse who never gets to lunch but manages to take a lunch break one day. Help others see the good work they’re doing every day.

Help Put A Positive Spin On Staff Meetings

How often does your boss hear about the good work their staff is doing? They might not always know about all of the great things going on out there. Why not ask if the staff can initiate staff meeting mentions, maybe one of those “Strong Work” awards can make it into that box. In this way, you’re alerting your boss to all of the positive goings on around the unit and encouraging them to give positive feedback.

Start A Mentor Program

That first year as a new nurse is one of the most challenging we ever face. Research shows that having a mentoring program is associated with lower turnover rates and higher job satisfaction for both the mentor and mentee. Keep those new grades and even the new (but experienced) additions to your team feeling supported. It will make you happier at work, too.

Pilot A Morale Committee

Pull a few people together to create a morale team. Let other staff know what you’re doing and ask them for ideas and input. Try to organize some coworker outings every now and again — make sure it’s clear that the event is open to all. And there’s only one rule — no talking about work! Make outings an opportunity to get to know coworkers outside of the usual stressors and complaints you face everyday.

How do you think morale can improve on your unit? What has worked for your team in the past? What hasn’t? Let Scrubbed In and your fellow nurses know!

6 Comments Post a comment
  1. A. A. RN-BC. #

    Times are hard these days and a lot of places are cutting backs not just locally but I think nationwide. With the cut backs, a lot of the burden are placed on the staff members. NOW WE ALREADY KNOW ABOUT THAT. But how do we improve employee morale, to make employees want to come back and work again? Since management isn’t “stepping up to the plate”, why don’t we start asking ourselves what we can do to improve our own work place/environment. Just because they’re management doesn’t mean that they have all the right answers, right? This website is the best place to shop around for ideas on how to improve employee morale. Maybe we can try one for our workplace that doesn’t need management approval. There’s got to be a better one out there. We can not say, “OURS ARE ALL READY WAY TOO FULL!!!!!” Nurses are known to have a lot of ideas. But if we insist on saying that it’s already way too full, sad to say but I think it would be better and healthier for us to hit the road and start looking for our “ideal place” to work. Goodluck!

    February 1, 2013
    • Meaghan O'Keeffe, RN, BSN #

      Yes, A.A.! The bottom line is, staff nurses are in the trenches together–I say think outside the box and find ways to make those trenches fun!

      February 7, 2013
  2. Gia RN #

    I have been a nurse many, many years. I have been on all sides of the job, staff ER nurse to Director of the ER. I currently am working as a staff nurse again, as i do not love the “behind the desk” part of those jobs. One thing I have found is that administration does not purposely do things to upset staff. I personally feel that every job these days is overwhelming and work itself is becoming more and more difficult, however I do know that there are staff members who increase moral just by being there. When things are at their most difficult, those people are the ones smiling, laughing and helping others maintain during difficult moments. I bring candy and when I see someone do something “special” whatever that may be, I hand it out. Not a big expense and I don’t do this in a parental way, I just say something simple…”that was so nice of you…” or a simple “you look beat”.. a tiny piece of candy makes such a difference…doesn’t cure the worlds problems, but it does let others know we can care about each other, which is where morale starts. Sorry if I sound preachy or like a Pollyanna, but I think so many of “our” issues can be cured or at least decreased if we take responsibility for ourselves and those directly around us. If we all did something small everyday and spoke in positives instead of negatives, we would go home exhausted, but satisfied with ourselves and those around us. If we perceive issues as in the note above, PLEASE get involved in the processes that make rules. I know, as a previous member of administration that it would be greatly appreciated and it will open your eyes wider than you may want them opened. Somethings cannot be changed, but if you choose not to be part of the solution, then you continue to be part of the problem and morale will never increase.

    February 1, 2013
    • Meaghan O'Keeffe, RN, BSN #

      Gia, it’s great that you’ve taken the initiative to spread a little positivity around. I’m sure your coworkers are more grateful than you know! We’re all overworked, including management. And you’re right, there are always those who lift your spirits just by being there.

      February 7, 2013
  3. SOMETIMES YOU JUST CANT RAISE MORALE NO MATTER HOW HARD YOU TRY! THE DAMAGE IS DONE WHEN EMPLOYERS CONTINUE TO TAKE THEIR STAFF FOR GRANTED AND THERE IS NO RESPECT THE GOING JOKE AT THE LAST PLACE I HAD WORKED WAS RN STANDS FOR REALLY NOTHING BECAUSE OF MORE FOR PROFIT OUTFITS AND ONGOING CUT BACK OF STAFFING THERE IS REALLY NOTHING MORE YOU CAN DO FOR YOUR PATIENTS YOU HAVE REALLY NOTHING LEFT TO GIVE EMOTIONALLY PHYSICALLY OR A LITTLE EXTRA SUCH AS A JUICE OR COFFEE BECAUSE THEY HAVE TAKEN THAT AWAY ALSO MAKING YOU FEEL LIKE YOU WOK IN PRODUCTION SITUATION SUCH AS FACTORY WORK, HOWEVER THOSE PRODUCTION WORKERS ARE MOST LIKELY BRINGING HOME MORE IN THE PAYCHECK THAN YOU ARE! HOW PATHETIC IS THAT NURSES DON’T LET IT UP TO US TO BOOST MORALE IT IS NOW TIME FOR MANAGEMENT TO STEP UP TO THE PLATE, OURS ARE ALL READY WAY TOO FULL!!!!

    January 24, 2013
    • Meaghan O'Keeffe, RN, BSN #

      Anna Marie, that doesn’t sound like a very healthy work environment. It sounds like you no longer work there and that’s great–I hope you’re happier in your new place of work. You’re right, morale isn’t easy to attain in a bleak work environment, but sometimes small things do make a big difference!

      February 7, 2013