Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario

Background Context

  • Appropriate nurse staffing and workloads are fundamental to the efficient operation of health-care organizations and to the delivery of safe care to patients. They are also important for nurses’ quality of life and for their leaders, who are under pressure by organizations to control costs.
  • Developing and sustaining such practices can improve nurses’ well-being and retention, improve the quality of patient care, and yield financial benefits for organizations.
  • Because nursing is not defined by the number of tasks that nurses complete, managing nursing staffing and nursing workload is not as simple as finding the “right” numbers; rather, it is about aligning the right caregivers and resources with the needs of patients.
  • A number of studies have demonstrated strong links between insufficient nurse staffing and adverse patient outcomes.
  • The literature, and nurses themselves, have described their working environments as chaotic, stressful, and fast-paced.
  • Overtime is an important indicator of a healthy work environment, as excessive overtime can lead to nurse fatigue and may have negative effects for nurses, their colleagues, and their patients. The negative effects of overtime have been known to contribute to health problems among nurses, which often translate to absences and shortages of nurses.
  • Ultimately, the recommendations were aimed at creating healthy work environments where nurses would experience respect, where they would be involved in decision-making related to patient care, and where increased funds would be provided for nurses’ education and professional development.
Healthy Work Environment
Developing and Sustaining Effective Staffing and Workload Practices
Background Information