What keeps nurses happy? Implications for workforce well-being strategies

Nurs Manag (Harrow). 2018 Mar 22;25(1):34-41. doi: 10.7748/nm.2018.e1643.


Aim: The aim of this article is to present selected findings from a doctoral study on the subjective well-being and subjective experience of mental health problems in UK mental health nurses. Here the concept of 'nurses' well-being' is explored.

Method: Data were drawn from a survey of 237 mental health nurses about their mental health and well-being and from interviews with 27 mental health nurses with personal experience of mental health problems and high subjective well-being.

Results: While nurses' subjective well-being is relatively low, some use strategies to support their well-being in and outside the workplace. Activities outside work that improved their wellbeing were physical exercise, mindfulness practice, spending time in nature and listening to music. Well-being was associated with clear boundaries between home and work life, regular clinical supervision and translating learning from work with patients to nurses' own lives.

Conclusion: Healthcare employers' staff health and well-being strategies should be informed by nurses' insights into what works for them. This may mean offering opportunities to take part in well-being activities. There are also opportunities to improve staff well-being through shared initiatives open to nurses and patients, and through an inclusive and empowering approach to staff engagement.

Keywords: burnout; management; morale; staff welfare; ward managers; workforce.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attitude of Health Personnel
  • England
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Job Satisfaction*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Morale*
  • Nursing Staff, Hospital / psychology*
  • Psychiatric Nursing
  • Surveys and Questionnaires