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Professional Wellbeing

Impact Wellbeing. Prioritizing Professional Wellbeing in Your Hospital

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You care about your workforce, but it can be hard to know where to focus to effectively improve professional wellbeing. Addressing workplace policies and practices is the best way to reduce burnout and strengthen professional wellbeing.1

Whether you need to fine-tune quality improvements, establish new workflows, or help staff feel safe getting support, NIOSH’s Impact Wellbeing™ campaign has the resources to help hospital leaders. The Impact Wellbeing Guide and other tools help build a system where healthcare workers thrive.

Why focus on professional wellbeing?

  • According to the National Academy of Medicine, between 35% and 45% of nurses and physicians and 40% to 60% of medical students and residents report symptoms of burnout.1
  • A 2023 Vital Signs report found that positive working conditions, such as trust in management and supervisor help, were associated with lower odds of poor mental health symptoms and burnout.2
  • Healthcare worker burnout may impact the quality and safety of patient care, including increased medical errors and hospital-acquired infections among patients.3,4,5

By identifying and making practical operational adjustments, you can improve retention and help healthcare workers continue doing what they do best—delivering the highest quality patient care.6

Tips for making professional wellbeing a core part of your workplace

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Show your commitment through action

The Impact Wellbeing Guide: Taking Action to Improve Healthcare Worker Wellbeing is designed to help hospital leaders make meaningful changes to improve workplace wellbeing for all healthcare workers. The step-by-step Guide helps hospital leaders and executives accelerate or supplement professional wellbeing work in their hospitals at the operational level. Download the Guide to access resources and accelerate professional wellbeing efforts in your hospital.

Communicate often with your staff

Clear, consistent, and open communication with staff is an essential part of professional wellbeing. Maintaining transparent, ongoing communication with your workforce builds trust and shows that you are committed to professional wellbeing.7

Additionally, establishing channels for two-way communication between hospital leadership and healthcare workers allows staff to give input and ask questions about system changes to improve professional wellbeing. It also demonstrates that you value your staff’s input. This might look like open Q&A sessions during department meetings.

Impact Wellbeing offers resources to help hospital leaders communicate effectively with their staff about mental health, burnout, and professional wellbeing efforts

Model Professional Wellbeing Practices for Your Workforce

Improved professional wellbeing starts with leaders committing to and modeling positive workplace culture practices. Research shows that supportive leadership can be an important factor in reducing the negative effects of job stress. 8, 9 It is critical to collaborate with your workforce when promoting a positive workplace culture. 10 Give workers more flexibility and control over their working conditions and schedules whenever possible. Ask employees how their working conditions and schedules can better support their safety, health, and wellbeing.

How hospital leaders run their departments directly impacts their abilities to have a strong workplace culture, cultivate an engaged workforce, and deliver high-quality patient care. Here are three ways you can model professional wellbeing in your hospital:

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Implement supportive supervision. Train front-line supervisors in supportive supervision so they can help their staff balance their work responsibilities. Workers struggling to balance their work and home responsibilities experience increased stress. 11

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Normalize conversations about seeking mental health services. Nine out of 10 employees appreciate when their leaders share stories of getting support. 12 Your staff wants to hear from you. Encouraging staff to get help if they need it sends a powerful message that will help them feel safe. For tips on how to have conversations on mental health, see the Health Action Alliance’s leadership storytelling guide and conversation guide for managers.


Promote a culture of safety within your organization. Building a culture of trust with your workforce is an essential first step to addressing violence and harassment. Strategies from the Workplace Change Collaborative can help you make safety a core value at your workplace.

Case study: California nurse-to-patient staffing ratios

Healthcare Worker

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Adequate staffing is a key component to ensuring a safe work environment and reducing healthcare worker burnout. One study examined outcomes in California, which has mandated nurse-to-patient staffing ratios, and New York and New Jersey, which do not. In all three states, nurses reported lower burnout and job dissatisfaction when workloads met the California-mandated ratios. Lower staffing ratios were also linked to lower patient mortality. Learn more about the study’s findings.

Ensure a safe work environment

Even before the pandemic, healthcare workers faced increasing cases of workplace violence and harassment.3 You can help make sure that healthcare workers feel safe at work by ensuring their wellbeing is valued as much as patient satisfaction. Here are some steps you can take to prioritize a safe work environment:

  • Remove barriers to reporting incidents of violence and harassment. Your hospital’s reporting procedures should empower healthcare workers to come forward without fear of retaliation when incidents of violence occur. Make the process simple and transparent and ensure your workforce knows that leadership takes incidents seriously and will act upon them in a timely manner.13
  • Provide violence prevention training to employees. Train supervisors and employees on how to respond when witnessing harassment, discrimination, bullying, or violence in the workplace. NIOSH’s free online course, Workplace Violence Prevention for Nurses, offers continuing education credits. The American Hospital Association recommends bystander training and cognitive rehearsal training in its suicide prevention toolkit.
  • Support your workforce after upsetting events. Ensure that worker safety and wellbeing are valued as much as patient satisfaction in these conversations. The American Hospital Association developed a framework for providing trauma support to healthcare workers following an incident or threat of violence.
  •  Ensure adequate staffing. Adequate staffing can improve both worker and patient safety.3 Explore resources from the Workplace Change Collaborative for guidance on safe and appropriate staffing, optimizing teams, and reducing administrative burdens.

Success Story: How Trinity Health Implemented a Successful Violence Prevention Initiative.

Healthcare Professionals in conversation

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Trinity Health’s Workplace Violence Prevention Strategy prevents violence and harassment through screening, real-time response, training, and data tracking. By investing in workforce safety, they reduced lost days and costs associated with workplace violence injuries. Learn more about their approach.

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Impact Wellbeing was developed by NIOSH in collaboration with the Dr. Lorna Breen Heroes’ Foundation to support hospital leaders, and in turn their healthcare workforce, to improve professional wellbeing.

Total Worker Health® is a registered trademark of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

1 National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine [2019]. Taking action against clinician burnout: A systems approach to professional well-being. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.

2 Nigam JA, Barker RM, Cunningham TR, Swanson NG, Chosewood LC [2023]. Vital Signs: Health Worker–Perceived Working Conditions and Symptoms of Poor Mental Health — Quality of Worklife Survey, United States, 2018–2022. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2023;72:1197–1205.

3 S. Surgeon General [2022]. Addressing health worker burnout: The U.S. Surgeon General’s advisory on building a thriving health workforce. Washington, DC: Office of the Surgeon General.

4 Trockel M, Menon N, Rowe S [2020]. Assessment of physician sleep and wellness, burnout, and clinically significant medical errors. AMA Netw Open 3(12):e2028111.

5 Salyers MP, Bonfils KA, Luther L [2017]. The relationship between professional burnout and quality and safety in healthcare: A meta-analysis. J Gen Intern Med 32:475–482.

6 National Academy of Medicine [2022]. National plan for health workforce well-being. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.

7 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [2018]. Health communication playbook: Resources to help you create effective materials. Atlanta, GA: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

8 Allen TD [2001]. Family-supportive work environments: The role of organizational perceptions. J Vocat Behav 58(3):414–435.

9 Hammer LB, Kossek EE, Yragui NL, Bodner, TE, Hanson, GC [2009]. Development and validation of a multidimensional measure of family supportive supervisor behaviors (FSSB). J Manage 35(4):837–856.

10 Flin R, Fletcher G, McGeorge P, Sutherland A, Patey R [2003]. Anaesthetists’ attitudes to teamwork and safety. Anaesthesia 58(3):233–242.

11 Kossek EE, Hammer LB, Kelly EL, Moen P [2014]. Designing work, family & health organizational change initiatives. Organ Dyn 43(1): 53.

12 Health Action Alliance [n.d.]. Workplace mental health: Tips for sharing your story. Los Angeles, CA: Health Action Alliance.

13 NIOSH [2020]. Workplace violence prevention for nurses: Prevention strategies for organizations. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.