By Gen Guanci, MEd, CAGS OD, RN, NPD-BC, CCRN-K, Chief Executive Officer
Not a day goes by where I don’t read something related to the trauma, burnout, and deterioration of the mental Wellbeing of clinical nurses. 2020 and 2021 saw nurses stretched beyond capacity while having little to no say in their work environment. Many organizations paused, and some even abandoned, any committee, council, or taskforce work that included the clinical nurse. Clinical nurses are now sharing how they have lost their voices in decision-making. This loss has led many to become disengaged, burned out, made to consider leaving their organization and even the profession.
As organizations struggle to create strategies to enhance engagement and retention, they need to get to the root of what I believe are major contributors to the problem: loss of control, loss of engagement, loss of ownership, loss of contribution towards a better work environment. Shared governance, professional governance, shared decision-making, or whatever you choose to call it tackles these contributors head on! Research has proven that when clinical nurses are involved in problem solving and improvement processes both engagement and ownership of the outcomes increases.
Shared decision making is not a “thing” organizations do. It is a method of empowering staff, and when fully embraced, a deep, unstoppable culture and way of being is developed. Consider this definition: “shared governance is a leadership model in which positional leaders partner with staff in decision making processes while creating ownership for improvement in practice” (Guanci & Medeiros 2019).
While the traditional shared governance structures of in-person monthly meetings, may not work at this time there ARE strategies that organizations can consider during these times. Here is just one to consider during these unprecedented times…what if organizations and units thought differently about practice-based issues, concerns, or opportunities? What if the walls of “council membership” were put aside for this timeframe and these opportunities were made available for any interested person to work on? I wonder what teams could accomplish with limited constraints.
Contact Gen (email@example.com), Marky (firstname.lastname@example.org), or Amber (email@example.com) if would like to set up a 30-minute conversation to learn more on how shared governance can improve engagement and retention in your organization.