Job satisfaction is at an all-time high this year according to The Conference Board, a non-profit research group. In 2019, 54 percent of surveyed workers said they were happy in their jobs, which was up from the 49 percent measured several years ago. These higher numbers today can generally be linked back to improved job security and better wages especially for younger workers. However, satisfaction with the job environment and with coworker interactions do not rate quite so high. While you cannot change your job environment overnight, you can make some simple changes yourself while also promoting larger changes to your supervisors. When you are happy with your work environment, you may just find that you are happier with your health care career overall.

When you think of work environment, you may think only of your surroundings, such as the color of the walls and the comfort of seating at the nurse’s station. However, you should think beyond this to such things as the respect you get from coworkers and managers and the overall company culture. If you are ready to see increased job satisfaction, you must create a better environment, focus on regular recognition on your unit, create an engaged workforce and provide job advancement options.

The best work environment is one that focuses on the needs and desires of the average worker. Rather than relying on what a manager thinks would be best, it focuses on providing for even the smallest needs. On your unit, this could refer to more comfortable chairs, increased space for charting, more relaxing lighting or even a snack drawer.

To increase recognition, it is best to rely on a program to ensure that rewards are given out regularly. These programs improve morale on the unit and keep workers striving to succeed. At the end of the year, a formal or informal celebration can cement what was achieved.

While some units focus on managerial roles and put all of the power into supervisors’ hands, a positive workplace ensures that the majority of decisions are put into the workers’ hands. Health care workers can be engaged regularly through unit meetings that take all ideas into account. When workers know that their ideas are being used, it gives them more pride in their work and certainly more job satisfaction.

Finally, all workers need opportunities for job advancement, and nowhere is this more important than in the health care world. Health care is constantly evolving, and doctors, nurses and other professionals must constantly be looking to the future of diagnostic equipment and treatments. Whether your unit focuses on regular classes to learn about new equipment or pays for employees to take certification courses, such as ACLS or PALS, these opportunities help to invest in an employee’s potential.

Finding a work environment you enjoy can mean the difference between looking forward to going to work and dreading your next shift. In fact, poor work environments can even lead to higher turnover among health care employees. Work together with your coworkers and unit managers to change the company culture if it is not what it should be and to improve overall communication, respect and trust on your unit. While you may not be able to change the job satisfaction of your coworkers, you can improve your own.