The COVID-19 pandemic is causing unprecedented anxiety and stress for much of Americans. For healthcare workers on the front lines, the burdens are incredible – fear for their personal safety, stress of increased demands, financial challenges and the pain of witnessing lives taken too soon.
“The emotional toll is high,” says Hank Drummond, Chief Clinical Officer at Cross Country Healthcare. “We must find ways to support, manage and protect our healthcare providers and their emotional wellbeing, particularly during this time when a robust and stable workforce is crucial.
“I recently spoke to one of our valued healthcare providers whose story not only reflects what so many providers are experiencing, but a shining example of how we must lift one another up during this time,” says Drummond. “Amid what she describes as ‘chaos’ on the front lines and complete exhaustion, her goal is to find those coworkers who need lifting up and thank them for their work, their partnership and for sharing their knowledge to improve patient care. For many, her efforts have brought them to tears.”
To help support and thank all our front-line workers, Drummond has compiled a number of strategies being used by fellow healthcare providers to boost motivation and to help keep spirits high. These include:
Connie, RN, Nurse Manager, Texas: It is certainly tough to motivate everyone all the time, but you have to be willing to do whatever you ask each caregiver to do, first and foremost. I also like to ensure nurses have what they need to do their job and then let them do their job while giving them good quality feedback and helping them if they are drowning. I like to give a lot of positive feedback and then give feedback for improvements with kindness and love and keep the patient at the center of all discussions. It is also helpful to celebrate big and small accomplishments as much as possible.
Maylynn, Director of Nursing Operations, Washington: We as nursing leaders are trying our best to maintain normalcy amongst the chaos by nimbly reacting to the ever-evolving science of COVID-19. As leaders we are faced with the reality of anxious staff and constantly changing directions.
Meals, snacks and coffee definitely help — that's always the first go-to for motivation, but that's only going so far. Although risk is not new to any of them, they need to be given the permission and space to be honest and say whatever it is that they're feeling. In return, your response as a leader is to graciously listen, be humble and be transparent. Let them know that they are appreciated and that you will continue to listen and advocate for them.
This checklist was shared by one of our sister hospitals and is now given to staff. As a leader, you should hang this in your office so you can 'check out' as well:
- Take a moment to think about today
- Acknowledge one thing that was difficult on shift and let it go
- Consider three things that went well today
- Check on your colleagues before you leave — are they OK?
- Now switch your attention to home
- Rest and recharge
Angela, RN, Clinical Coordinator, New Jersey: I think it all starts with your own attitude. I try to come in to work with a positive attitude, although in my subconscious, I am already expecting the negative comments, the complaints or the overall sense of overwhelm and fear from the staff. However, my job is to acknowledge what they are feeling, and it's OK to let them know I have those feelings, too. It is important to not minimize their feelings of fear and anxiety during these uncertain times. I have learned that they appreciate receiving real-time updates and feedback instead of hearing about things down the road.
Then, it is important to motivate your staff as well, letting them know we are all in this together. As someone in a leadership role, you must show your staff you are ready in your scrubs, ready to jump to the bedside as the need arises. This is the best way for me to motivate them, by being in the front lines with them, answering call bells, letting them know they are not alone in this. I also jump in staffing as needed.
It's important as well to shout out kudos for all their amazing work. We let them know in person, through email, through our recognition boards, etc. Focus on the positive, bring in food, make a cozy spot in the conference room. Have a snack box where people can grab something on the go to give them some boost of energy. Also, include them in unit-based decisions.
Winter, RN-BC, Nurse Educator, Texas: The best leadership tip I have for motivating my team is to remember we are here for the patient. Giving our patients the best possible outcome is the reason we are nurses. Remembering our patient is our driving force to continue forward.
“We know you are facing tremendous challenges that none of us could have ever imagined,” says Drummond. “We want you to know you are courageous beyond belief. Selfless beyond imagination. Our company, and our entire nation, owe you a debt of gratitude. Take time to lift your spirits and those around you – you are more than just the heart of healthcare; you are the heart of America.”
While you take care of everybody else, the Cross Country Healthcare family is here to help you and support you in any way we can. Please reach out to us whenever you need. Our clinical hotline (800.998.5058) is open to answer any and all questions.