Job satisfaction factors

Job satisfaction factors and The Care Locker plan

Based on work by Laporta et al. Critical Care 2005 9:454-458   doi:10.1186/cc3543, I’ve been taking a look at factors affecting job satisfaction, particularly for nursing staff, but applicable across the board, and how that affects how we shape The Care Locker.

This work looks at – and lists – the factors that affect people’s happiness at work. And frankly, I believe that if people are happy at work they do a better job, are more flexible and they put in more ‘discretionary effort’.

Workload/clinical load  is clearly a major factor for anyone, but particularly for carers. All of the anecdotal information I’m collecting suggests that carers rarely have time to do anything other than ‘doing’ – making a cup of tea often doesn’t allow time to sit and chat over that tea. Although we can influence the behaviour of our carers,  The Care Locker is divorced from the practicalities of care delivery, we are currently looking at a model that will allow extra hands for little cost – more on this one later.

Clinical load (patient case-mix, complexity, etc.) and the contribution of others on the team in terms of skill and work ethic, along with staffing levels are also listed as major factors in happiness within care jobs. I can’t help but think that this is going to be a variable, with different people enjoying different work styles.  We are all well aware of how stretched care teams are, and there is rarely any extra ‘weight’ carried (no extra staff, for mainly financial reasons). There is, however, from the, again anecdotal, information that I’m gathering, a tendency in the health industry to move people on if they underperform, rather than disciplining, resolving , retraining and, if necessary, firing.

Naturally, I aspire to put people into roles that they enjoy, and my team members aren’t ever going to be there as dead weight – they’ll be there because they’re needed. At the core of the concept is getting the very best people for each role in place – so we should be having a positive impact on the care settings we supply people to.

Other duties (clinical, administrative, academic) affect staff, notably the need to record everything rather than getting on and doing it. This is an area for further investigation for me. is there some way we can ease the burden?

Leadership (nursing, medical) and team culture in the units we serve are things we have little influence over, although I do think that our model will allow greater staff openness. The Care Locker will have its own culture, and we already have some ideas about making sure it’s a healthy one. We are, for example, building in far better systems for ‘supervisions’ ( regular progress reviews) and ‘whistle blowing’, but in a non-hostile way.

A recurring theme in both this piece of research and the interviewing I’ve been doing is scheduling. Too many people are leaving, in particular, professional nursing roles such as midwifery or ward nursing because of the difficulties of balancing this with family life. Because we are effectively agency work, we will be offering alternatives. However, the current care agency system gives nurses and carers this option, so I plan a little more research into why people are leaving in preference to making use of agency work as a way to stay ‘in’. Do agency staff, perhaps, have a poorer reputation?

Some of the other ways I feel we can really help make working with The Care Locker more successful, include clearer definition of roles and skill requirements before placing people. I don’t want to discuss some of the other ideas we’re playing with at the moment just yet, but suffice to say, I think that working through The Care Locker will be a lot more enjoyable than many other agencies, a lot more consistent, a lot less stressful, and a lot more flexible.

Big on ambition, I should really be getting on with it rather than blogging here, but on the upside, sharing these thoughts and having to address some of the literature helps me develop my thinking on how we shape this for success from the very start.

Ironically, I’m not getting lots of people to look at these blogs deliberately yet – just a few interested parties, and if you’ve found this by mistake, welcome!  But if you have any thoughts or ideas to add regarding the topics I’m addressing here, I’d love to hear them. You can email Claire at thecarelocker.co.uk, or use the discussion boxes below.

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