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5 Tips for Nurse Leaders to Create a Positive Work Environment



Healthcare workplaces can often be chaotic, stressful, and highly overwhelming for nurses, considering the challenging tasks each day. Therefore, today’s nature of the nursing workplace encourages negativity and tension amongst nurses. However, a negative work environment can be extremely detrimental not only for nurses but also for patients’ health. The overwhelming nature of the work environment will be further enhanced, causing several nurses to experience burnout while conflicts between nurses rise. In such a situation, it’s the responsibility of a nurse leader to counter the negativity by supporting a positive work environment. Nurse leaders have an influential position in a healthcare workplace and can support other nurses during work. If you want to be a responsible nurse leader and create a positive work environment, here are five tips you’ll find helpful.

Be a Good Role Model

Nurse leaders often forget their responsibilities and their influence on other nurses by being negative role models. As a result, other nurses follow poor work practices, such as ignoring patients, being distracted, and taking unnecessary breaks, leading to negativity. Therefore, as a nurse leader, you should realize the strong influence on other nurses and use that power for good. Instead of allowing nurses to follow negative roles, you can show yourself as a responsible and professional nurse, encouraging others to work positively. For this purpose, you’ll need to avoid all unprofessional practices and effectively show others how to do the same. As a result, nurses will be able to work more efficiently, improving patient outcomes.

However, to be a good nurse role model, it’s best to gain an advanced education, such as a doctor of nursing practice (DNP) degree. Such an advanced education will equip you with the essential leadership skills to encourage a positive work environment while working more professionally. More importantly, you will gain better career advancement opportunities, leading to higher salaries and rewards. The DNP salary is one of the highest salaries earned by any nurse.

Offer Recognition

One of the biggest factors contributing to a hostile work environment is a lack of appreciation and recognition for hard work, talent, and accomplishments. Without recognizing the achievements of nurses, they will feel ignored and devalued, which will discourage them from working positively. In contrast, recognizing the efforts of nurses will significantly increase job satisfaction, encouraging positive behavior and work environment. Research shows that employee recognition has a strong link with job satisfaction. More importantly, nurses will be more willing to put in greater efforts in their jobs due to recognition.

So, as a nurse leader, you’ll need to be aware of other’s achievements and hard work so that you can offer recognition timely. Delayed recognition may not be as valuable as an instant appreciation to nurses. Moreover, to offer more meaningful recognition, you’ll need to recognize specific accomplishments that are unique to that person. Most importantly, it’s worth understanding that recognition can take many different forms. You don’t have to reward nurses with cash or prizes to provide meaningful recognition. Celebrating accomplishments with other employees or vocally appreciating nurses in the workspace can effectively offer recognition and encourage positivity.

Encourage Collaboration

The job of a nurse is highly demanding in terms of work. Nurses have to take on various tasks each day, often having to spend sleepless nights working tirelessly. Therefore, it’s safe to say that nursing isn’t a job for a single person and requires a team effort. Without a collaborative and supportive work environment, negativity will rise rapidly. Nurses will experience burnout and get tired of their jobs. So, a nurse leader must encourage collaboration and teamwork in the workplace to develop a positive work environment.

For this purpose, you’ll need to encourage communication between nurses. Otherwise, nurses will continue to work alone without support. They will not share their issues and work with other nurses. More importantly, efficient teams share ideas, ask questions, and brainstorm to solve problems, which requires effective communication. Therefore, you’ll need to find opportunities to encourage communication between nurses. For example, you can hold nurse meetings, talk to nurses during breaks, and assign team tasks that require communication. Moreover, to further encourage collaboration, you can recognize team efforts and find ways for nurses to spend time together.

Offer Breaks

As mentioned earlier, nurses work tirelessly throughout the day, often working to the point they experience burnout. Burnout causes stress, depression, as well as a decline in physical health. It can be highly detrimental to nurses, creating a negative work environment, as nurses lose passion and interest in their jobs. Only in 2017, over 100,000 nurses quit their jobs due to burnout. In such a situation, nurse leaders need to support and offer breaks whenever it’s possible. Breaks allow nurses to give their minds and bodies the necessary rest to avoid burnout and keep working efficiently. As a result of breaks, fewer nurses will experience burnout, allowing them to retain their passion for their jobs and show positive behavior.

However, alongside supporting breaks, you can enhance the positive effect of breaks on the work environment by encouraging communication between nurses during breaks. It will allow nurses to share issues and gain support from other individuals, reducing stress significantly. Furthermore, you can also encourage friendly competition and games during breaks to create joyful moments for nurses.

Help Nurses Overcome Weaknesses

Your workplace likely has several nurses facing issues while working due to a lack of skills or knowledge. For example, many new nurses encounter problems while using complicated equipment. As a nurse leader, you can help nurses overcome their weaknesses and work to improve their skills. After all, one of the best things a leader can do to create a positive work environment is to support individuals and help them overcome obstacles.

Being a mentor is one of the best ways to help nurses overcome obstacles and support them, creating a positive work environment. For this purpose, you’ll need to observe nurses and find out who needs help and support. You can then work to help those individuals through training. However, you can also team up nurses who need help with experienced nurses to help them overcome obstacles.


Due to the stressful nature of the work environment, it can be highly challenging for nurses to continue working positively. It’s not surprising that problems such as burnout are becoming more common in healthcare workplaces. However, as a nurse leader, you can prevent negativity and develop a positive workplace. So, make sure to take this responsibility by following the tips mentioned above.

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