How to Handle Difficult Situations in the Workplace

We will all experience a difficult scenario that requires careful navigation. At GigWorx, we hire PRN workers, or people doing per diem/shift work, in various healthcare settings. They let us know that they have experienced challenges in the workplace, such as understaffing, COVID-19 outbreaks, and patients who seem to need a lot of extra care and attention. All three of these situations combined might have per diem healthcare workers feeling frustrated, and that’s totally normal. With a little guidance and support, these difficult situations can be overcome and even prevented in the future.

Take a breath

It is scientifically proven that regulating your breathing can calm your entire body, including your heart rate. Try using a technique called “box breathing” to relieve some stress in the moment. This strategic exercise is used by athletes, military, first responders and clinical professionals all over the world. Slowly exhale for four seconds, to get all the air out of your lungs. Then inhale while counting to four, hold your breath for four seconds, and then exhale again for four seconds. Repeat this technique for a minute or two. This will help calm your body naturally, which should help relieve stress.

Power Through Your Shift

Typically, a shift can last anywhere from six to 12 hours. PRN workers are hired on an as-needed basis to fill staffing gaps and to provide quality care to patients. Even if a challenge presents itself during a shift, it’s important for per diem healthcare workers to understand that many people are counting on them – the facility itself, co-workers within the facility, patients, and family members of those patients. We ask that our GigWorx employees please do their best to stick out a shift, even when they come across a difficult co-worker, patient, or general workplace challenge. However, if you believe you or others are in immediate danger, please leave to a safe location and then contact your recruiter (and appropriate emergency services) as soon as possible.

Document Your Experience

At GigWorx, we pride ourselves on having an organized documentation strategy in place. Properly documenting a situation will help members of the Human Resources department make informed decisions about next steps.

When documenting, please be sure to include the date, approximate time, names of people involved, provide details on exactly what actions took place (verbal threats, physical harm, harassment, lack of safety protocols, etc.). It’s best to document quickly, while a scenario is fresh in your mind.

Incident documentation serves as a formal record to help us address issues in an appropriate way. If you have questions about what to include in your documentation, please reach out to your GigWorx recruiter directly.

Inform Your Recruiter

This step may occur prior to completing documentation. Your recruiter is your trusted partner in employment. The old saying is true, “We don’t know what we don’t know.” It’s important to be upfront and honest about any problems that you experience during your shift(s) with Gigworx. Our recruiters will keep your information confidential when they take next steps to address ongoing issues with the facility director, manager or HR department. Your safety and well-being is extremely important, even more so in a healthcare setting. Our goal is to empower our per diem staff to communicate openly and honestly about any scenario in the workplace that puts people at-risk. Nothing is too big or too small. If something makes you feel uncomfortable, or if you know for sure that something is wrong and needs fixed, communicate with us and we’ll work with you moving forward, and potentially look to place you at a different location in the future.

Your recruiter may also talk with you about strategies to help you in the future, such as setting boundaries, communicating assertively or learning to recognize differences in personalities. The fact is, everyone is different and certain people are bound to butt heads or clash. When this happens, do your best to calm your body, examine your thoughts, and take logical steps to communicate with the appropriate higher-ups.

For more information about how to navigate difficult people in the workplace, please check out this article.

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