6 Simple Ways to Boost Unit Morale

3 Min Read Published August 23, 2018
6 Simple Ways to Boost Unit Morale

There is no doubt that being a nurse can be really tough some days and the morale of each individual unit seems to fluctuate with staff turnover and patient acuity. But over the years, nurses and managers on my units have joined creative forces to lift each other on bad days. The following are six ways to boost the morale of your unit when your tribe needs it most.

The Golden Urinal

Never underestimate the power of the golden urinal. This little guy can be a vase for flowers or a receptacle containing all things great – pens, Starbucks card, gum, Chapstick. At the end of a crummy day, let the staff nominate a nurse or any staff member who deserves a little treat. Oh, and a golden bedpan works just as well too. 

Decorating for the Holidays

Continuing with the urinal theme, nothing spices up the holidays around the hospital like a urinal wreath, and yes, that red bow is from a biohazard bag. Jazzing up the unit during the holidays boosts morale for staff and families. Honestly, no one wants to be in the hospital, but especially not while others are celebrating. So by tastefully brightening the unit, everyone feels better. Some other ideas include a Christmas tree made from rubber gloves and a string of lights in the break room or in the rooms of patients who have been on the unit for months. 

Surprise Lunch/Coffee

Everyone, I repeat, everyone in the hospital appreciates food. During wild days in the ICU, there is nothing I loved more than grabbing a hot slice of pizza mid-shift, ordered by my manager for a surprise. Even better for some, is a Starbucks run. The person who takes Starbucks orders and returns to the unit with my dirty chai is a literal angel from heaven. Although these gestures seem small, it made me feel like management recognized how hard I was working in the moment. Plus, on busy days in the hospital, you’re just hungry and need caffeine so it’s super convenient. 

Sunshine Fund

One of my most team-oriented units participated in the “Sunshine Club.” This meant that if you wanted to, you could donate money to an annual fund that covered potlucks, baby showers, going away parties, wedding gifts, get-well-soon gifts etc. Although this one takes some work and budgeting by experienced staff, it was hands down the greatest, consistent, morale booster of any of the aforementioned. About a year after I started this particular job, I had to go on a medical leave. While I thought no one noticed, I received a supportive card signed by the staff that meant the world to me. I can’t encourage unit managers enough to support this cause enough, it truly brings staff together. 

Potluck Culture

Yes, I know it takes work, yes, I know the last thing you want to do is worry about bringing food to work after your shift, but you should create a potluck culture on your unit. It is not just about the food with potluck culture, it’s about the team. Everyone collectively contributes an item in an effort to create a fun evening on the unit. When food is made, people gather and chat when they otherwise would not. These teammates include nurses and CNAs, NPs and PAs, respiratory, PT, residents – everyone. All are invited to contribute, and most do. 

A senior nurse on one of my previous units arranged, themed, Sunday night potlucks roughly once per month. Themes included Super Bowl Sunday, cereal night, international food, fiesta, and breakfast food. I purposefully signed up to work these nights because they were so much fun, and I know I was not the only one. 

Shout-Out/Kudos Cards

There are all sorts of ways to shout out teammates – a book, a public board, and during a huddle, but I appreciated handwritten note cards that were physically handed to me the most. A unit where I did travel nursing had pre-made cards that allowed teammates to write encouraging and sometimes hilarious words. I have kept these with me for my entire career and still look at them when I need motivation. 

Danielle LeVeck, DNP, ACNPC-AG, CNS, RN, CCRN is an ICU Nurse Practitioner, blogger, writer, and social media influencer, who strives to empower and inspire nurses from all backgrounds, to partake in regular self-care and multidisciplinary teamwork, for the sake of providing optimal patient care. Follow her on Instagram and Facebook for her latest. 

Next Up: 20 Key Steps For An Organized Start To Your ICU Shift

Danielle LeVeck
Danielle LeVeck
Nurse.org Contributor

Danielle Leveck is an CVICU Nurse Practitioner, blogger, speaker, writer, and social media influencer, who strives to empower and inspire nurses from all backgrounds to partake in regular self-care and multidisciplinary teamwork for the sake of providing optimal patient care. Follow her on Instagram, Facebook, and her website for her latest.

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