Creating a healthy work environment (HWE) enables nurses to provide the highest standards of compassionate patient care while being fulfilled at work. In fact, AACN’s data consistently shows units that are implementing HWE standards outperform those that are not in many ways. These include the overall health of the work environment, better nurse staffing and retention, less moral distress and lower rates of workplace violence. Learn more about the six HWE standards, conduct a free assessment of your unit and find the evidence-based resources needed to build and sustain an HWE.

The Standards

AACN’s six essential standards provide evidence-based guidelines for success. The healthiest work environments integrate all six standards to help produce effective and sustainable outcomes for both patients and nurses.

Skilled Communication
Be as proficient in communication skills as you are in clinical skills.
True Collaboration
Be relentless in pursuing and fostering true collaboration.
Effective Decision Making
Be committed partners in making policy, directing and evaluating clinical care, and leading organizational operations.
Appropriate Staffing

Staffing must ensure the effective match between patient needs and nurse competencies.

Meaningful Recognition
Be recognized and recognize others for the value each brings to the work of the organization.
Authentic Leadership
Fully embrace the imperative of a healthy work environment, authentically live it and engage others in its achievement.

Healthy Work Environments (HWE) National Collaborative

To guide and support healthcare organizations in transforming their work environments, AACN is launching its HWE National Collaborative this spring. Multidisciplinary teams from more than three dozen hospitals nationwide will partner with AACN, workplace experts, implementation scientists and each other in this hands-on education, mentoring and co-learning program. Working collaboratively, participants will implement the HWE standards, problem-solve and, ultimately, improve their workplace culture and optimize outcomes.

Benefits of Implementing Healthy Work Environment Standards

The results from the 2021 Critical Care Nurse Work Environment Study, which was conducted by AACN, raise significant concerns about the current health of the nurse work environment and its impact on the future of our healthcare system and the livelihood of the nursing profession.

Workplaces that have actively implemented any of the six AACN Healthy Work Environment Standards (HWES) had superior results to those that have not. Read the Full Report

Healthy Work Environment Survey Results

A Call to Action: Implement the HWE Standards

These results serve as a call to action for all members of the healthcare team, healthcare leaders, government officials, community leaders, and patients as well. Without appropriate staffing, units cannot provide safe high-quality care.

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The New Healthy Work Environment Assessment Tool (HWEAT) - Version 2.0

You and your interprofessional team can collectively measure the health of your work environment against the six standards.

Here’s how:

  • 1Check out HWEAT 2.0. It’s quick and free! Just answer a few questions to get started.

  • 2Send out the HWE survey. Use our email invitation template to send your team a link to an anonymous survey.

  • 3Download your HWE report. Use the results of the survey to measure the health of your work environment against the HWE standards.

  • 4Take action! Use the toolkit and other AACN resources to begin improving the health of your work environment and measure progress over time.

Create a free assessment

Anyone can create an assessment, and it's free.

Read the full standards

AACN Standards for Establishing and Sustaining Healthy Work Environments: A Journey to Excellence