As an active member of the American Organization of Nursing Leadership (AONL) and the American Nurses Association (ANA), I have direct access to the latest ‘nursing news’ from across the nation. The July 2022 issue1 of the American Nurse Journal featured an article by Jodi Waddoups, related to active nursing professional engagement. She encouraged nurses to find their voice and to trust their instincts. The article provided strategies for all levels of nursing to improve nurse engagement.
“All my leaders are in staffing right now”, a Nobl partner shared with me on a recent call. “We’re struggling to find the time to engage and connect.” Sentiments similar to these can be heard more and more across healthcare organizations, with leaders stretched thinner than ever before. But with this pressure comes burnout, both for leaders and staff, and disengagement.
As more and more healthcare facilities adopt the principles of lean methodology to inform quality care improvement, it is important for all stakeholders to understand and use these tools within the realm of patient experience, not just quality and safety and how to improve patient care. True empowerment begins when frontline governance leaders are also included, especially if they are expected to be part of nurse leader rounding.
The COVID-19 pandemic has touched everyone in some manner over the last 18 months, but those in the healthcare industry have not only been challenged in their personal lives but also in their professional lives in a unique way. Staff who were able to cope well, demonstrating tremendous resilience during 2020 and into early 2021, are not faring as well with the 2021 surge of the variant that is now sweeping across the land.
With 15 years of experience as a national nursing excellence consultant, I have had the opportunity to work with literally hundreds of healthcare leaders from over 200 facilities. One thing that always stands out is the difference between those who actually ‘walk the talk’ and become role models for processes, professional behaviors, work ethic, attitude, and accountability, and those who don’t. Successful leaders know that effective delegation is key to handle a broad scope of command by leading through systems. But
Rounding on employees is helpful to solicit input and promote retention when the work environment is running smoothly and all associates have the information, resources and support they need. But when the world is turned upside down, as it is now from the COVID-19 pandemic, connecting with employees is no longer a “nicety” but possibly a life-saving touch point.
Providing routine, meaningful touchpoints with employees through rounding can result in higher employee satisfaction and retention, but only if the structures, processes, and outcomes of rounding efforts are well-defined and monitored. Conducting “howdy” rounds that don’t explore core problems or respond to key issues can be more detrimental than helpful.
Employee rounding is a powerful tool to form and maintain relationships in the workplace between leaders and their frontline staff. Progressive, participatory leaders began rounding or “checking in” with their employees long before the relationship between patient satisfaction and employee satisfaction was validated by data and research.