I work in a State Mental Hospital. Falling economy and state budget cuts have hit us hard. Near 200 patients, many of which have serious violent histories or are actively violent. Back when I directly worked with patients, I had been punched, slapped, stabbed, and bitten. It was stressful, but I never really felt that I was in serious danger or over worked. Many of our patients were violent at times, but very few were very good at violence. Meaning, a 60 year old with schizophrenia isn't Mike Tyson.
But things for the workers have become worse. Right now, there are far fewer workers, and the same number of patients. Mental Health workers are forced to work mandatory 12 and 16 hour shifts multiple times a week. No vacation is approved and every sick day is met with a response rivaling the Spanish Inquisition. When the staff complain about being overworked, they are told they have given up their rights to an outside life when working in patient care or that they should be happy about their large paychecks (from the extra hours). Now, understand that these workers make only a few dollars more than minimum wage, are often working under the threat of physical violence from the people they serve, have to deal with the emotional strain of working with people who are often suicidal or psychotic and worked 60 or more hours a week.
And I have been put on a committee to try and improve morale. Ideas floating around...giving the staff cupcakes or cookies...problem solved. If there are simple ways to increase morale other than getting more staff, I'd like to know it. But I can't even stand going to these meetings. My job is to train new staff. Don't take me away from training new staff to talk about handing out cookies. The staff needs to work less hours and get days off. That requires new staff, not cookies. I love cookies, but it doesn't solve this problem.