How to Help Employees Avoid Stressing Out

By ALEX ZLATIN

Problems with the emotional health of employees is costing employers up to $500 billion per year. As a result, the global wellness market is growing nearly twice as fast as the global economy, according to the Global Wellness Institute.

For employers wondering whether their workers are stressed out and unhappy — and thus hurting the bottom line — the signs are everywhere. 

Discontented employees are less likely to engage each other in conversation, relying instead on e-mail. The absentee rate increases and production declines as workers call in sick more often. And, of course, eventually employees begin to search for a more emotionally stable place to work, leaving managers to constantly look for replacements.

The employers who do not consider their employees’ emotional wellness are bound to suffer high turnover rates. Employers who are not responding to those needs will feel a significant impact. But there are many ways to change the company structure to accommodate employees who are feeling stressed out.

• Review existing (or create new) core values, vision, and purpose. These items often sound like flaky ways for big corporations to show their connection to clients. The reality is, if done right, these items are the pillars of every company.

• Walk the walk. Leadership’s role in corporate change begins when its leaders behave the way they expect their staff to behave. If one of your core values is ‘have integrity’ and the leaders do not act with integrity consistently, they cannot expect it from their teams.

• Invest in employees. Create a ‘game’ room for staff. Explore team activities that are pure fun and are not specifically designed to ‘enhance teamwork.’ Treat random employees to lunch.

• Monitor client feedback. Are your clients happy? If they are not happy, is it because your employees are not happy? When client feedback starts heading south, it might be because your employees are not ‘smiling on the phone,’ and if they are, it feels and sounds fake. Client feedback is the canary in the coalmine tell you that your employees are not happy.

• Don’t let employees suffer in silence. To reduce and prevent burnout, employers need to create a workplace culture that encourages employees to raise their hands and ask for help.

The pressures of today’s society are unlike anything we have seen before. These pressures don’t go away when a person goes to work.  If employers want to have happy, satisfied employees, it is important that they offer comprehensive emotional-wellness programs.

What to Ask the Nurse While in the Hospital

By MELISSA TUOMI

When preparing for a visit with your primary-care doctor, the recommendation is to make a list of things you want to ask your physician about, so you don’t forget during your exam. The same holds true for your nurse while you are in the hospital.

As the most trusted profession, nurses play an important role in shaping the patient experience. We are an advocate for our patients, a calming force at the most vulnerable time in their lives, whether they are facing a serious illness or a minor medical procedure. Oftentimes, patients arrive full of questions and fearful about what is going to happen to them, and with one goal in mind — to return home as soon as possible.

Today’s nurse plays a greater role in patient education than ever before. Healthcare has become increasingly complex, and, while a team approach is used, it is often the nurse who the patient asks to clarify concepts and further explain what other providers have said. We believe that discharge planning and teaching begins upon admission to the hospital. So, nurses are constantly teaching their patients about medications and treatments. And the day before a patient leaves the hospital, it’s all about addressing discharge education with them.

National Nurses Week, sponsored by the American Nurses Assoc., is May 6-12. This year’s theme is “4 Million Reasons to Celebrate” — a nod to nurses’ sheer numbers, and an open invitation to thank a nurse for enriching our lives and the world we live in. Here are eight ways for patients to maximize the nurse/patient partnership while in the hospital.

  1. Always ask your nurse if she or he has washed their hands. Handwashing is one of the most important actions a caregiver can take to prevent the spread of germs.
  2. Upon arriving in your room, ask your nurse about your healthcare team — who will be your primary physician, any specialists, and your nursing-care team who will be taking care of you.
  3. Ask your nurse how you are progressing and how you can facilitate your recovery. Tell your nurse about what is important to you. Nurses know that a patient’s recovery  is enhanced when they feel comfortable and safe. If you prefer to sleep with earplugs, or if you might enjoy a visit from a dog in the hospital’s pet-therapy program, let your nurse know.
  4. Ask your nurse about your plan of care throughout your stay. Nurses want to make sure you are aware of the plan each day and what has to happen for you to go home, such as test results, goals, or milestones. If you are not sure, your nurse may be able to offer suggestions for things you can do to get better, such as eating solid foods, drinking, or walking a certain distance.
  5. Tell your nurse about your pain. Nurses ask about your level of pain by number and type, but it’s also helpful to know if pain increases with certain activities. Tell your nurse if you have suggestions for ways to help manage pain, such as a certain position that alleviates pain, creating a calming environment, prayer, or distraction.
  6. If you have any concerns about the care you are receiving, ask to speak to the nurse manager or charge nurse who will serve as an intermediary. Nurses want to address care concerns as soon as possible.
  7. Ask your nurse to serve as an ‘interpreter.’ Your doctor may have given you a lot of information about your illness, diagnosis, or operation and used medical jargon confusing to you. If you were overwhelmed or confused, ask your nurse to help you understand. Your nurse can always ask the provider to return to clarify anything.
  8. As you approach discharge from the hospital, ask your nurse in advance of the day you will be leaving what you will need: what time someone should arrive to drive you home, any new prescriptions you will need to go home with, and things that might be needed for the home, such as a walker. And, if you have not received any discharge instructions, ask your nurse about them. Nurses want everything to go smoothly for their patients on discharge day.

Melissa Tuomi, PhD, RN is director of Professional Practice, Nursing Research, and Quality at Baystate Medical Center.

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