St. Aiden Hospital is having a motivational problem at work. Consequently, nurses at have adopted a work-to-rule protest. They are not doing any tasks beyond the minimum set standards in their letters of contracts. They are also following the rules of safety as in their manuals to the letter so as to create job slowdown. Nurses have refused to answer phone calls, work overtime, travel on duty or sign up any other tasks outside their job descriptions.
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An investigation into the issue links the problems to management meddling into nurses’ duties by taking their roles of recording and keeping patients’ medical symptoms. They also talked of monotony, absent of job feedback and lack of decision-making capabilities. Subsequently, they resorted to work-to-rule protest in order to address their grievances.
Application of job characteristics theory
Nurses lacked job autonomy. They do not have a sense of personal feelings to the job. Therefore, they do not own job results. This happens because the hospital management is taking the key roles of nurses such as recording patients’ medical conditions and history and keeping the records. Nurses also cannot make decisions to patients they attend such as recommend a proper care because they do not have the medical history of the patients. To this extent, they feel that management can then run every aspect of the hospital since their personal efforts are not vital to the hospital management.
There is no task identity in the hospital. The management has taken over their core roles. To nurses, there is no distinct beginning and ending of their works. Therefore, they cannot say their task is whole. In such cases, nurses are not proud of their jobs. Job meddling from management has created a lack of job satisfaction among nurses.
Nurses who work in home healthcare agencies feel that their jobs almost lack significances in relation to their counterparts in physicians’ offices. Moving from one station to another make them derive low level motivations from their works.
Nurses possess multiple job skills to perform their tasks. Their jobs at the hospital have become monotonous. For instance, ophthalmic nurse cannot apply all her useful skills in treatment of eye diseases. This is because she is not among the team performing surgeries to eye patients. Her role ends in testing existing eye condition and glaucoma cases. She feels that her useful skills in eye care are going to waste. Consequently, she derives low level motivation from her job.
Nurses do not get job feedback once they have concluded a task. Job feedback is useful for future performances. Nurse who attend to patients do not have clients’ records because the management keeps them. There is no knowledge outcome in post-care to patients. Management follows up with such patients because they want nurses to attend to patients in the hospital.
Job characteristics theory posits and asserts that work satisfaction, performance and attendance are higher when all the five conditions are present in a job so that the effects can accrue.
Solutions to the problem
Lack of task autonomy results from the management meddling in core roles of the nurses. Management keeps the patients’ records because they consider patients as their clients and not nurses’. They also consider such records useful for the hospital’s information needs. The hospital should review and emphasis the job descriptions of the hospital management, particular the team responsible for patients’ records, and draw a distinct line of duty between nurses and management team.
Nurses’ job autonomy will result once the management allows nurses to have patients’ medical records easily accessible. This way nurses can make decisions on post-hospital cares the patients need based on their previous and current medical history. Nurses should see a patient until the medical process is complete.
The eye surgery team should allow nurses to participate in surgery processes in enabling nurses exploit their full range of skills in eye care. Nurses can also give public education to patients and public with eye conditions. The nurse combines her skills in public talks with her knowledge in her eye care. Therefore, she eliminates job monotony and at the same time uses her various skills to serve patients.
In order to get feedback from the tasks, nurses should be part of the patient from beginning to end. That is treat patients, give advice, educate patients and give emotional support during and after hospital treatment. The task feedback is useful for the nurse especially in future performance where she may experience similar situations.