How to cultivate a positive culture in healthcare workplaces

2020 was an extremely challenging year for the healthcare industry and the hard working people who work within it. Data from NHS England shows that there was considerable disruption to healthcare recruitment activity within the NHS during the Covid 19 pandemic. There was a vacancy rate of over 10% reported for nurses alone; leaving 38,952 nursing vacancies unfilled during the midst of a global pandemic.  

The devastation caused by the Covid 19 pandemic had a severe impact on the healthcare industry, although the future looks positive as a result of worldwide vaccination efforts and the pressures of the pandemic somewhat easing in the summer months. The strain on the industry has left healthcare workers emotionally and physically exhausted making it difficult to approach the latter months of 2021 with optimism and enthusiasm. 

Benefits to cultivating a positive culture

A positive culture encourages happier workers, which in turn, usually leads to higher levels of productivity, staff retention and achievement of company goals. In a positive working culture, employees thrive off teamwork and collaboration, are more comfortable getting to know each other and are more likely to share ideas, tips and opinions. 

Below are some tips to help you create a positive workplace in your healthcare organisation. 

Recognising the efforts of healthcare workers

Although standing on our door steps every Thursday evening and gathering outside hospitals to applaud healthcare staff was a nice gesture of gratitude from the general public, clapping is a lot easier than repairing the social conditions that contribute towards the grievances and stresses of so many people who work in the healthcare sector. 

Mental health experts and leaders of healthcare organisations agree that more needs to be done to increase optimism and show recognition to those who continually showed up to work in the healthcare sector during such testing times. 

To help motivate healthcare workers and alleviate some of the issues in workplaces throughout the healthcare industry, mental health experts are working with healthcare organisations to assist in creating positive working cultures within the industry.  

Psychologists who are leading the efforts to increase morale and create positive working environments agree that showing the healthcare workforce recognition and acknowledgement is an essential way to achieve this. 

Natalie Dattilo PhD, states that practicing gratitude often involves looking for the silver lining in difficult situations and is an important part of post-traumatic growth and coping with enhanced levels of pressure and stress. 

Turning negatives into positives 

Even in the most challenging situations, you can still turn bad situations and testing days into positives by focusing on the bright side; don’t forget to look for the opportunities. 

Instead of seeing a negative situation as a weakness, see it as a development opportunity to turn a weakness into a strength. From a management perspective, having a culture like this can do wonders for your workforce and can often lead to a rapid change in motivation among workers when you instil the attitude of seeking positives and development opportunities in the worst case scenarios. 

For example, take the pressures that the Covid 19 pandemic had on healthcare workers. If you create the perception amongst the workforce that if they can successfully handle a situation as terrible as the pandemic, they can certainly handle the pressures of the backlog in minor treatments caused by the unprecedented workload created by the pandemic. 

Building a diverse and LGBQT friendly workplace 

As competition for talent is ever increasing, creating a diverse and LGBQT friendly workplace is a crucial factor in attracting and retaining a highly skilled workforce. However, creating this type of working environment requires more than balancing percentages of staff from different backgrounds and displaying rainbow flags.  

According to a report published by Stonewall, nearly 20% of LGBT staff have been the target of negative conduct or comments from their colleagues in the workplace. This statistic clearly indicates that organisations can do more to cultivate a more accepting culture within their workplaces. 

There are many other reasons people from the LGBQT community and ethnic minority backgrounds feel unhappy or depressed at work. These can range from feeling that they have been overlooked for promotions, hearing jokes about race, transgender or sexual orientation or being exposed to comments that they should dress in a more feminine or masculine manner.    

Treating all employees with respect and dignity regardless of their age, race, gender or sexual orientation should be a core value of every organisation. 

Recruit positive people 

When recruiting new healthcare workers, you should not only focus on the candidate’s skills, qualifications and experience; personality is also an important factor that needs to be considered. A potential candidate’s characteristics should be aligned with the company’s culture. It is important to employ people who will enhance your company’s culture and productivity.  It is very desirable to employ people who are willing to tackle any problem that may arise with positivity and confidence rather than backing down in the face of adversity. Having a work force full of like-minded, positive people can have a huge impact on your company’s culture and productivity. 

Criticise in private and give praise in public 

The culture of your organisation is pivotal to retaining motivated and positive employees. To help boost productivity and morale, acknowledge and praise the successes and good work of your employees in front of their peers. This will often lead to healthy competition amongst your workforce, increase their confidence and encourage them to support each other whilst working hard on their individual tasks. 

If there is an issue with an employee’s attitude, performance or demeanour, it is advisable to address these issues in private. As Harvey Spector said in Suits, “Never destroy anyone in public when you can accomplish the same result in private”

There is nothing more detrimental and destructive to a company’s culture and productivity than having management criticise their employees in front of their peers.

We hope you enjoyed this article and if you did, here are three more we think you will enjoy: 

    1. How mandatory vaccination could affect healthcare recruitment
    2. Transform perceptions of social care
    3. The impact of COVID-19 on the recruitment industry