Ask the expert: Tips to increase nursing staff member’s motivation

Nurse Leader Insider, November 21, 2011

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This week, Shelley Cohen, RN, BSN, CEN, identifies reasons behind lethargy or lack of motivation in staff nurses.

Q: Some of my staff members seem lethargic lately. Any advice on how I can boost staff motivation?

A: What may appear as lethargy to you may be burnout or a personal issue conflicting with staff energy and enthusiasm at work. Never assume you understand why a person behaves or acts in a certain way. Approach these staff members individually and ask them informally how they are. Mention that they seem to be missing their usual zip and drive and that you are concerned. Ask if there is anything you can do or provide to help. Some staff members may be bored with their duties and in need of a challenge.

As the manager, you must realize that even though most employees possess great abilities, they may not work up to them. Here are some quick tips to increase work output:

  • Most people enjoy hearing they perform a task well. So expressing confidence in your employee's ability to measure up to his or her job can sometimes go a long way.
  • Find the reasons for which an employee is not doing his or her job well and ask what is preventing him or her from mastering the job. Make them aware that their job is essential and that good performance could lead to more challenging job opportunities.
  • Check to see whether working conditions are adequate for various job assignments, and when improvements are needed-make them quickly.

Editor's note: Do you have a question for our experts? E-mail your queries to Editor Rebecca Hendren at and see your name in print! In the meantime, head over to our Web site and view a growing collection of advice from our experts. 

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