Workplace design can cut nurse turnover
Architecture, interior design, and other physical aspects of where new registered nurses work can enhance their job satisfaction, a new survey shows.
Job satisfaction can predict registered nurses’ job turnover, patient satisfaction, and nurse-sensitive patient outcomes (including pressure ulcers and falls), which can result in higher health care costs and penalties for hospitals that receive Medicare and Medicaid payments.
The study, in the current issue of Research in Nursing & Health, reveals that while physical environment had no direct influence on job satisfaction, it did have a significant indirect influence because the environment affected whether nurses could complete tasks without interruptions, communicate easily with other nurses and physicians, and/or do their jobs efficiently.
The research team conducted a nationwide survey of RNs to examine the relationship between RNs’ physical work environment and job satisfaction.
They found that RNs who gave their physical work environments higher ratings were also more likely to report better workgroup cohesion, nurse-physician relations, workload, and other factors associated with job satisfaction.
A good investment
“Clearly, the physical work environment can affect nurses’ ability to do their jobs effectively and efficiently,” says Maja Djukic, assistant professor at the New York University College of Nursing.
“The right environment facilitates nurses’ work, which increases their job satisfaction, which in turn reduces turnover. All of those improve patient outcomes.
“When investing in facilities’ construction or remodeling, health care leaders should look at features that enhance workgroup cohesion, nurse-physician relations, and other factors that affect job satisfaction. Those investments will pay off in the long run.”
The researchers measured job satisfaction in terms of procedural justice, autonomy, nurse-physician relationships, distributive justice, opportunities for promotion, workgroup cohesion, and variety in one’s job.
Physical environment was assessed based on the architectural, ambient, and design features of the workspace, including crowdedness, ventilation, lighting, arrangement of furniture, colors and decorations, aesthetic appearance, and the need for remodeling.
“This study supports our previous findings, which indicate that investing in improving nurses’ work environments is extremely worthwhile,” says Professor Christine Kovner.
“We’d suggest that future studies delve into which aspects of the physical work environment best support the factors that enhance nurses’ job satisfaction.”
Carol Brewer, professor at the School of Nursing at the University at Buffalo co-led the study.
The study is based on a 98-question survey of 1,141 RNs, which is part of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s RN Work Project, a nationwide, 10-year longitudinal survey of RNs begun in 2006 by Kovner and Brewer.
Nurses who completed the survey were licensed for the first time by exam between August 1, 2004, and July 31, 2005, in 34 states and the District of Columbia.
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