Enhancing Academic Workplace Well-Being: The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee College of Nursing Working Well Initiative

Saturday, 23 February 2019

Ruth Ann Treisman, MSN, ARNP-BC
Beverly Zabler, PhD, RN
College of Nursing, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee College of Nursing, Milwaukee, WI, USA

Healthy work environments for nurses are now seen as needed for innovation and transformation (Hanson, 2018). For over 15 years, developing and maintaining a healthy work environment has been a focus of our Midwestern College of Nursing (CON) leadership. Evidence from business research on positive work environments supported the CON’s early efforts to improve their workplace environment. The research had shown that a positive workplace environment fostered productivity; improved profit; and led to less employee turnover/greater retention (Harter, Schmidt & Keyes, 2002).

Early tactics by faculty and staff to support a positive college climate found multiple challenges in doing so when the effort needed was not recognized financially or for academic promotion. Later, with the Dean’s support, a staff-initiated proposal for a model to promote working well together was launched in the CON. For six years, this initiative has grown and is now self-sustaining. The structure of the model allowed the first ad hoc committee to become a CON standing subcommittee with volunteer members representative of all position types. It serves as the CON clearinghouse for the planning, prioritizing and implementation of a variety of activities that support the CON-Community working well together to achieve its mission and vision. It is creating a college community that worked well together. The initiative put forth a unique policy focused approach to workplace wellness, focusing on encouraging college faculty, staff and students’ collaborations to create a healthier work environment and to increase faculty and staff support for one another.

The initiative supports the goals of the current CON Strategic Plan as well as the campus Workplace Wellbeing initiative. In addition, it aligns with current national trends for work place wellness in nursing, primary care and health care systems. In 2016, the American Association of Critical Care Nurses (AACN) (2016) articulated standards for Health work environments. In 2017, the ANA Healthy Nurse campaign focused on the health, safety, and wellness of nurses by promoting content and activities on health-related topics (ANA, 2017; Dawson, 2017). Concurrently, in primary care, ‘improved work life for staff’ was included as a quality metric by the agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) (Coleman et al, 2016). Finally, in the larger health care system the same metric was identified as a performance measure in the Quadruple Aim (Bodenheimer & Sinsky, 2014). All these metrics and standards include a focus on stress management and reduction of burnout and compassion fatigue, which enhance professional well-being.

This presentation will share the evidence that this low resource model for a CON-community supported healthy work environment model was built upon and the journey of its development. The working model of the initiative, its alignment with current national healthy work environment trends and the status of the subcommittee will be described. Finally, examples of the initiative's activities and the results of a 2016 program evaluation survey completed by 50 CON faculty and staff will discussed.

See more of: Poster Session 2
See more of: Oral Paper & Posters