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Building Workplace Relationships On A Strong Foundation Is Important When The Initial Excitement Of A New Job Begins To Fade.

Happy Workers Stick Together

It takes commitment and hard work to form lasting bonds with your team

To some of your staff members seem disen- gaged or distracted? Is someone suddenly showing up late to meetings and unwilling to share their thoughts and feelings with you? Are they complaining about some aspect of work they had no problem with doing before? This could mean they’ve become detached and are preparing to quit, leaving you high and dry and looking for someone significant to fill the void they leave behind.

With the healthcare industry facing a dire nursing shortage and facilities everywhere struggling to keep the quality nurses they have and attract new nurses to a career in the OR, building lasting bonds with top talent is imperative. Your facility’s ability to survive and thrive depends on preventing staff turnover. Luckily, despite what scores of business relationship experts want you to believe, hanging on to your high performers isn’t all that difficult — as long as you remain committed to nurturing your workplace relationships.

Put yourself out there

As a leader, the best way to ensure your staff is happy and satisfied is by simply asking them. Keeping the lines of communication open and constantly touching base with members of your team to find out what they do and don’t like about their jobs is key. Of course, not everyone feels comfortable telling their managers what they really think. One alternative: Put a comment box in the hallway on a quarterly basis and encourage staff to voice their comments, concerns, and griev- ances anonymously.

Talk about your problems

You’ll be surprised at what happens when everyone speaks openly about their likes and dis- likes. I worked with a director of nursing at a sur- gery center who felt like her entire staff was going behind her back about challenges they faced. She brought her concerns to her administrator, who denied knowing anything was amiss. The cycle con- tinued, but the director knew something wasn’t adding up. To resolve the problem, she held a meet- ing and asked her staff directly about the issue.

Turns out, she wasn’t overreacting. Her team was avoiding her because the administrator had said, “If you have a problem for the director, just bring it straight to me.”

The director was understandably upset, but didn’t overreact. She simply moved the discussion forward and the entire staff had an open and pro- ductive conversation, which revealed the issue was due to high turnover in this position, and the staff wasn’t sure they could trust the new director. The administrator was simply trying to create some sta- bility for her staff to prevent them from jumping ship. In the end, open communication was the first step toward fixing a toxic, high-turnover facility.

Nurture ongoing growth

There are only so many available positions to fill, but that doesn’t mean you can’t provide addi- tional opportunities for motivated people. If you have a top-performing staff nurse who shows tremendous management potential, you shouldn’t allow her to grow bored with her job or she’ll leave when a better opportunity becomes available. Instead, create opportunities for this staffer to learn the management side of things. Let that nurse serve as the team lead for the week when your director of nursing is out of town. Then, when that director retires, you’ll have the perfect person to transition and promote. At the same time, recognize that some staff have no desire to move into a management role. If you have an OR nurse who wants to come in, work her 12-hour shifts and go home to her fami- ly, don’t push extra responsibility onto her plate.

Every facility has a variety of personality types and it’s your job to get the most out of each and help them achieve the success they want to attain.

Keep things fresh

Reach out to local nursing schools or the nursing department of a local college and ask to speak to the graduating RNs about a career in peri- operative nursing. You’d be surprised at how little attention a career in the OR gets from nursing stu- dents these days. If students express a genuine interest in working in surgery, consider bringing them into your facility for a training or intern pro- gram, which could lead to a job interview for a full- time position. Then, once you’ve developed relation- ships with local schools, you can fine-tune the pro- gram and training with the nursing students so you have access to the best and brightest RNs who can fit your facility’s needs. Here’s how one facility made such a program work: osmag.net/hPE7Db.

Built to last

People’s relationships with their jobs aren’t that dif- ferent than their relationships with their significant others. In the beginning things are new and excit- ing, but as time goes on and you experience more bumps than bliss, it takes work and attention to remain committed to each other. The difference between good and great facilities often comes down to the ability to retain staff. When you create a loyal, satisfied workforce, you’ll be able to grow together as a close-knit team.

Ms. Venezio (andrea@sapphirehg.com) is the CEO of Sapphire Health Group, a recruiting search firm in Lewisville, Texas, that serves ambulatory surgery centers and surgical hospitals.

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