5 Ways a Chief Wellness Officer Can Support Your Facility

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Written by Diana Campion, MSN, APRN, ANP-C Education Development Nurse, Content Writer, IntelyCare
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As a healthcare leader, you appreciate that one mark of a successful organization is a thriving workforce. A chief wellness officer (CWO) might be a key to cultivating a happy and healthy work environment for nurses, which in turn plants the seeds for improved patient and facility outcomes.

The CWO is a relatively new role within healthcare. If you want to learn more about this position and how it can help your staff and organization thrive, here’s an overview of the role and five ways that it can add real value to your facility.

Chief Wellness Officer Defined

The CWO is an executive leader who develops and manages an organization’s evidence-based wellness program designed to address system-wide challenges. The unique role of a health and wellness officer helps healthcare staff by creating a strong workplace culture prioritizing their physical, emotional, and mental health.

The CWO has several key characteristics, including being a qualified strategist, an innovative leader, and a change champion. A CWO must maintain a frontline presence to better understand the workplace experience and collaborate with their fellow executives to achieve effectual long-lasting changes. A few simple examples of how the CWO can implement wellness initiatives include:

  • establishing work schedules that provide uninterrupted restorative breaks
  • dedicating facility space for a quiet recharge room to meditation or relaxation
  • setting aside money in the budget for paid subscriptions to a mental health and wellness app

5 Ways a Chief Wellness Officer Benefits Your Organization

Now that you know what a CWO is, you’ll gain better insight into this position by learning how it supports the following vital areas of your operations.

1. Staff Well-Being

The CWO is responsible for evaluating and supporting the holistic well-being of your clinical staff. For example, nurses are subject to significant workplace stress that, when not addressed, leads to absenteeism, attrition, and burnout. After evaluating their staff, the CWO may strategically implement solutions to prevent and repair burnout while encouraging ways to improve health.

For an organization to effectively transform an unhealthy work culture, the CWO must repair the systemic root causes. This investment takes time and requires an intentional and steadfast effort, but the CWO’s hard work will be well worth it by reaping the rewards of a stronger, more resilient, and healthier workforce.

2. Nurse Recruitment

In healthcare, the CWO has a significant impact on staff recruitment. At the heart of your organization is its mission, vision, and values. The CWO puts these principles into practice when developing your wellness program, setting the tone for your culture.

Nurses value a strong workplace culture, and job candidates look to employee reviews to evaluate if a facility upholds its principles. An organization that honors and respects its staff through an accomplished wellness program will become popular within this small workforce pool and attract high-quality candidates, quickly making you an employer of choice.

3. Nurse Retention

The chief wellness officer enhances your existing nurse retention best practices for your current staff and future hires. CWOs are integral in nurturing the health and well-being of your healthcare team and fostering a positive environment where nurses feel supported and want to stay long-term.

The integrity of an organization matters to nurses. So when organizations don’t keep their promises to aid and improve employee mental health, it significantly increases the risk of staff turnover. A startling 67% of healthcare workers contemplated leaving their jobs when their leaders didn’t fulfill their commitment to their well-being. The CWO can earn nurses’ trust and loyalty by implementing initiatives to meet their needs and set them up for success without sacrificing their health.

4. Patient Safety

High-quality and safe nursing care is dependent on healthy nurses. The CWO is integral in implementing initiatives that build their nurses’ resilience, which protects their physical and mental health, empowering nurses to focus on what they do best, providing optimal patient care.

When healthcare facilities don’t prioritize nurses’ well-being, it compromises patient safety. For example, nurses with poor physical health or suboptimal mental wellness had a 26% to 71% higher chance of committing preventable medical errors. Fortunately, the CWO can safeguard against this risk by placing the health of nurses at the forefront.

5. Financial Viability

Having a CWO adds financial stability to your organization. There are several ways that your CWO positively influences your nurses’ work environment that strengthens your fiscal well-being, as they can help with:

  • Maintaining a stable and sufficient workforce. The efforts of a CWO can decrease recruiting, hiring, and onboarding costs by minimizing staff turnover.
  • Increasing nurse job performance and improving the quality of care. CWOs promote patient satisfaction and outcomes, leading to increased patient referrals.
  • Decreasing medical errors. Focusing on staff wellness reduces associated healthcare costs and legal fees from adverse patient outcomes.

Need Help Enhancing Your Nurses’ Well-Being?

Now that you know how a chief wellness officer can support your facility, it’s time to start building up your best practices. Don’t miss out on the latest expert resources to help you maintain a healthy and positive work culture at your facility.