4 Strategies for a Hostility-Free Hospital

Although hostility can be a problem in any type of workplace, statistics show that it is particularly common in healthcare. A 2011 study from the American Nurses Association found that over half of respondents had either been verbally threatened or insulted while at work.

Currently, there aren’t any federal laws related to violence in the workplace, although several states have set forth their own legislation. Whether you’ve noticed a problem in your own healthcare workplace, or just want to be proactive, your awareness and subsequent actions could keep productivity high and encourage better attitudes among staff at large. Keep reading for a few ideas.

Understand the Root Causes

H News, a Canadian healthcare newspaper, recently published an article that examined the particular reasons why hostility seems to be much more prevalent in healthcare in comparison to other industries. According to their numbers, approximately 30% of people working in healthcare said that they either witnessed or personally experienced some sort of disruptive behavior from a coworker.

Often, excess stress causes people to lash out at others. Many healthcare workers regularly deal with factors such as heavy emotional issues, a lack of resources and erratic schedules. Unfortunately, relational conflicts among coworkers are similarly physically and mentally draining, and can cause productivity to plummet.

Instead of pushing a problem aside, start by being more aware of potential problems at the workplace. When you can spot problems early on, you have the best chance and offering an effective remedy and getting morale back on track.

Watch Out for Nonverbal Communication Cues

Verbal clashes are usually the easiest to recognize, but be careful not to overlook nonverbal signs, too. In fact, some experts say that the majority of communication among humans is actually nonverbal. Seemingly small signs such as an employee who rolls their eyes at you when you give them an assignment, or sighs audibly when you inform them of a schedule change could signal an underlying problem that’s grounded in hostility.

Dispense Information

It’s hard to deal with instances of hostility without strong assertiveness skills. Think about planning a training day where you’ll aim to teach ways to be assertive, and also talk about what sorts of behaviors are considered unacceptable. Once you take care to let staff members know what types of actions cross the line, they’ll be more likely to try and resolve an issue on their own, or approach a someone for help.

Warn Staff Members About the Dangers of Being a Silent Witness

In many cases, staff members don’t engage in hostilities directly, but stand by and watch them happen without speaking out against them. Hostility thrives in an environment characterized by shame, secrecy and people who aren’t willing to speak up.

It’s so important to create a culture where being a silent witness is not only seen as harmful, but also unethical. Encourage staff members to break old habits by creating new ones. Even people who are habitually shy and passive can eventually build more confidence about standing up for coworkers who are being victimized, especially if the workplace culture makes it clear that hostility is unacceptable.

Workplace hostility is not a new issue, but it’s a very complex one. Keep your healthcare setting running smoothly by incorporating some of the above ideas. Efforts to end hostile behaviors start when you’re willing to be aware of the signs, and keep staff members educated.

Editor’s Note: Ivan Nichols is an avid health blogger. If you’re interested in getting an advanced degree in health administration while continuing to work, check out online programs available at University of Cincinatti and University of Washington.

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