In 2015, Valley Children’s engagement survey showed a low score on the driver “My unit or department has enough staff.” In response, and as part of their 10-year strategic plan between 2015 and 2016, Valley Children’s’ increased staffing levels across the organization. Leaders believed this would help with staff engagement—especially the driver “my unit or department has enough staff.”
But that didn’t happen. In the 2016 engagement survey, that driver had fallen, despite adding FTEs. These results surprised leaders. So, to understand what was behind staff perceptions staffing levels, they turned to their frontline leaders.
Valley Children’s director of workforce engagement and development revamped an existing monthly leadership meeting. They shifted the agenda from mostly didactic presentations to a working session on addressing staffing-related distress. Participants included charge nurses, managers, and directors.
To run this exercise, participants were split into small working groups. From there, they used the discussion prompt “When was the last time your unit felt under-staffed?” to open the conversation. Participants identified specific times when their unit felt understaffed and shared their stories in their small groups. While doing this, the facilitator asked participants to discuss the staffing details that day, such as: What was patient census? The skill mix that day? Did anyone call out sick?
This helped the group assess if their unit or care site was truly understaffed—and warm-up for the next step: root-cause analysis.