It’s important that we all have healthy working environments, both in the physical sense as well as the mental sense, but when it comes to the high-stress environment of health workers, keeping their work environment healthy can be crucial. Not to say it isn’t crucial in all workplaces, but when your job is to handle other patients and make sure they’re living their best life, and if you are constantly ill or have reached your burnout point, then you’re endangering more than just yourself.
To Keep a Physically Healthy Environment:
- Keep it clean. In any healthcare facility — be it hospital to walk-in clinic, it’s pretty standard to keep the floors and surfaces sanitized almost daily. Things that should also be considered are vents and air ducts, because if you’re breathing dusty air, it’s going to irritate not only the health care workers, but the patients as well. High and hard-to reach places should also be cleaned regularly, such as the top of a large shelf or behind a television.
- Do not over-crowd. It’s easy to do when you have a lot of staff working and little to no foot space, which can lead to trips and bumps or scrapes. Keep a clear walking area separate from any filing or machine storage. Also consider keeping every inch possible well-lit to avoid falls or even eye-strain.
To Keep an Emotionally/Mentally Healthy Environment:
- Practice team communication daily. Sort of like a pre-game huddle for a sports team; set your goals, ask anyone to express concerns or to give praise to anyone or previous goals that were met, and always make sure the health workers are being listened to more than talked at. Keep this kind of communication going throughout the day via computer systems, in person conversations, or handheld devices like pagers, walkie-talkies, or cell phones.
- Healthy relationships are also very important, both amongst individual coworkers as well as boss-employee relationships. If the workers don’t like the person in charge, or the person who is working alongside them, they’re going to feel more stress and this could contribute to burnout (which is when the health worker gets so overwhelmed that they just don’t care about their work anymore — it’s a work-related depression).
- Do not overwork your health workers. There needs to be an adequate amount of people to level out the work-worker ratio, if there’s too many workers, then people will get bored, which will lead to carelessness and accidents, but if the workload is too much, then the employees will rush, leading to incorrectly cared-for patients as well as hurried accidents.
Healthcare workers deserve a healthy environment just like any other worker — and really these suggestions can be applied to any service-providing job. Good luck, and stay safe!