Despite decades of research and examination, millions of dollars are spent every year when staff members leave a healthcare facility. Turnover is rampant, found in all staff positions and at all levels in all departments. Why?
Another new article and report indicates respect outweighs wages when examining staff satisfaction, this time in the home health care arena as well.
Respect and appreciation are what staffs have consistently stated as the number one item they lack – but desire – in their work. They are top on the list of what drives satisfaction in their work. And I believe a major reason for staff turnover. Sadly, for decades, registered nurses, licensed practical nurses, nursing assistants, and other healthcare workers in have reported that respect is absent in their workplace.
These healthcare employees simply ask for respect; respect for what they know, what they give, and what they do. Yet, employees indicate they do not receive respect from administration, managers, physicians, one another and sometimes even those they serve—the residents and families. How can such a foundational element of what individual’s should receive in their working lives be so difficult to obtain/achieve? Respecting another human being is not hard—it does not require a special skill and costs nothing.
Respectful behavior towards another person means that you value and care about them, acknowledge their experience and skills and are open to their ideas and perspectives. It demonstrates that you appreciate them as a colleague, value their gifts, talents, and their unique contributions to the organization regardless of their position.
Creating a respectful environment begins with establishing respect as an expectation for all who live, work, and visit in the facility. It requires talking about respect as a company with all staff in all departments. Discuss it routinely and any time the staff seem to have lost their commitment to respect. Using examples of respectful and disrespectful situations helps the staff understand the expectations, what behavior and approach is desired, and what will not be tolerated. Use stories as an opportunity to facilitate a discussion of the situation as it occurred, outcomes, the feelings – their feelings – and how it might be handled in a more respectful way.
Employees, regardless of their department, position, shift or role, are to be held to the same standards. They must be respectful of their colleagues on all shifts and those who work in other departments. All too often staff in different departments or those on different shifts are unkind, not helpful, and complain about others. This behavior can be stopped if the organizational expectation is equal respect for all. Don’t allow it – demand respect. And if staff is unwilling to work with others in a respectful fashion, then they have a choice to change their behavior or leave.
While we spend a great deal of effort ensuring that employees respect residents and families, we spend very little time on the need for residents and families to respect staff. This is equally important. You cannot allow a cognitively intact resident to consistently be cruel and disrespectful to a member of the staff. Similarly, it is not appropriate to allow family members and visitors to be consistently disrespectful towards staff either. Should residents and families show disrespect toward an employee, it is critical that it be investigated thoroughly and not ignored.
First, get the facts. Then if indeed a situation has occurred, a meeting with the resident and/or family should be scheduled to discuss the expectation for a respectful approach towards all who work in the facility. Regardless of a resident or family concern or complaint, it is unacceptable to be consistently disrespectful towards staff. Even if staff members have made a poor decision or an error, a family need not be rude and cruel. Those family members who will not cooperate must be addressed if repeated, action taken. The willingness to deal with a disrespectful family member sends a very powerful message to the staff—showing that they are valued by an organization who believes that they deserve respect from residents and families, as well.
Respect toward all who live, work, and visit assisted living and long-term care is an expectation. It is the foundation of relationships, and it is simply just the “right” way to treat people. Those who dedicate themselves to assisted living and long-term care are some of the most giving, nurturing, loving, and humble people one might ever meet and we need to demonstrate that we care—by our words and our actions.