AIM: The purpose of this study is to develop an understanding of work environments by analysing the perceptions of a sample of Registered Nurses (RNs). BACKGROUND: Within the context of high staff turnover and a shortage of nurses in the health workforce, it is important that we understand how nurses perceive their work context and view the organisational factors that influence their attitudes towards their workplace. METHODS: Data was collected using a 160-question survey instrument seeking information from RNs in relation to work and perceptions of the work environment and the organisation. The sample was recruited from a convenience sample of three acute hospitals in Queensland, Australia. A response rate of 41% was achieved (n=343). RESULTS: Respondents across the three survey sites identified a number of variables that had particular impact on their working lives. Team interaction, providing good patient care, communication, and abuse towards RNs elicited strong responses by the study respondents. As well, organisational direction, strategy and management returned strong negative responses. In responding to the questions related to personal and organisational morale it was clear that respondents saw them as two distinct concepts. CONCLUSIONS: The results of this study have implications for nurse managers in terms of understanding the nursing workforce as well as key organisational factors that have both positive and negative influences on the perceptions of nurses.