1. Goodyear, Caryl PhD, RN, NEA-BC, CCRN-K, FAAN

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Q With pandemic challenges affecting staffing, morale, and overall well-being, I'm at a loss regarding what I can do to support and care for my staff. What are your suggestions?

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All of us have felt the stress of the pandemic. We're concerned about ourselves, staff, family, and friends. It's hard to divide our time to care for ourselves and others, especially our staff.


A recent survey found that nurses are feeling stressed, frustrated, exhausted, overwhelmed, and anxious.1 Almost half of the respondents have experienced a traumatic COVID-19 event, and more than one-third reported not feeling emotionally healthy.1 At the beginning of the pandemic, nurses stepped up to meet the challenges they faced and were recognized for doing so. Now, the recognition from the public isn't necessarily as evident, yet nurses are still rising to the challenge.


There are many ways to show how much you really care for your staff. Whenever possible, it's essential to give them time to renew. In addition, consider the role of confidential counseling. Not everyone is willing to talk to a counselor, but a suggestion to use these services is an easy action. Another key aspect of supporting foundational needs is to ensure staffing is the best it can be. This is tough to accomplish right now.


I believe one of the most important actions we can take to support well-being is to ask staff members one simple question: "Are you okay?" When listening to the answer, do just that-listen. Listening is a good way to show compassion for your staff, and it signifies that you can be trusted. A big part of building trust is aligning actions with words and sometimes being quiet.2 As a leader, you should actively listen to ensure voices are heard. You want to display your compassion for each individual staff member and emotionally connect with them. Asking "Are you okay?" is simple yet very powerful and listening to the answers to this question will give you the critical information you need to ensure that the well-being of each staff member is being addressed.


When connecting and showing compassion, it's also important to communicate more. Your staff need to know the truth of the situation and that you have their backs. Communication and transparency show you're present with them. Being physically present when they are is also valuable. Come in on nights and weekends and communicate the caring you have for your staff but also make sure you have time away to renew. Don't over-commit to coming in during off times. Support efforts that help the team feel connected to one another and strengthen the emotional ties between nurses, such as recognizing staff for their hard work and dedication. Most nurses would probably acknowledge that the support of their colleagues positively affects their well-being, so ensuring the team is emotionally connected and working well together could prove to be invaluable.


Lastly, embrace the statement, "It's okay to not be okay." To be the best compassionate coach and mentor, you must get to know staff members as individuals and not just see them as nurses who report to you. Being authentic in caring for your staff as individuals is crucial to establishing and maintaining trust because, as we all know, trust is foundational to working in teams. As a transformational leader, you know that teamwork is vital to establishing and sustaining a healthy workplace, which leads to the best patient outcomes.




1. Hanley A. Survey findings reveal nurses are struggling. Am Nurs J. 2021;16(11):44. [Context Link]


2. Grossman D. Trust in the workplace: 6 steps to building trust with employees. The Grossman Group. 2019. [Context Link]