Day in and day out, nurses around the world work long, hard hours to provide quality care to their patients. There’s no doubt about it. Saving lives and nurturing people back to health are tough and tiring responsibilities. Proper nursing coverage equals happy patients, but it also leads to happier, more rested nurses. And there are many nurses out there who could catch a few extra z’s.
98 percent of nurses describe their work as physically and mentally demanding and 43 percent hide how tired they are from their managers. I came across these statics in an ebook featuring results from a 2017 U.S.-based “Employee Engagement in Nursing” survey. The study uncovered even more alarming truths. Almost half of participating nurses said they can’t take lunch and dinner breaks during shifts while some (12 percent) are so tired that they must pull over while driving to rest. I am a horrible person when I’m tired or hungry. I can’t image what it must be like for nurses who are tired and hungry at the same time they are trying to care for patients.
Nurses are heroes, without a doubt; but we can’t forget that they’re also human. When people are overworked and stretched too thin, they get tired. And tired nurses impact performance and patient care. Mistakes tend to happen more frequently when fatigue sets in. I wouldn’t feel comfortable if I knew that a nurse assigned to care for me was going on hour 15 of her 12-hour shift. But this probably happens more often than we think. Over a third of nurses surveyed confessed that they worry about making a mistake at work due to lack of sleep while 11 percent report that they made a mistake because they were so tired.
I didn’t find the factors causing fatigue all that surprising. The ebook points out things like excessive workload, lack of breaks during shifts, lack of sleep between shifts, and long, 12-hour shifts. 28 percent of nurses say they’ve called in sick simply to get rest, and I don’t blame them.
We know fatigue is an issue. That’s plain as day. So now, the question is how to fix it. One idea is that empowering nurses with more say in their schedules via self-scheduling leads to a better balance between work, life, and rest. Companies that offer automated staffing and scheduling solutions – like Kronos – provide tools that help identify, monitor, and minimize the events that trigger fatigue.
I found a great customer example highlighting how all this fit together. Cohen Children’s Medical Center (CCMC), the largest children’s health services provider in New York, leveraged Kronos self-scheduling capabilities to improve the satisfaction and engagement levels of their nurses. With Workforce Mobile and the ability to select and swap shifts on the go, nurses felt like they had more control over their schedules, allowing them to more easily balance the pressures of work and home. Enabling self-scheduling led to two notably positive outcomes at an organizational level as well, 1) CCMC experienced fewer safety events due to a more engaged staff, and 2) turnover for registered nurses dropped, saving roughly $150,000 per nurse who chose to stay.
Listening to your employees always pays off in the end – because great businesses are powered by great people. Check out more fatigue facts in the ebook.