US Nursing Shortage (PART IX)

What solutions are then available to improve the nursing shortage? (continued)

Let us discuss the Group 2 recruitment and retention practices. I will end this series with a discussion on retention.

Let us start by stating the obvious, in a market with a large labor shortage there is a high premium on retention. Staff retention should always be a priority. Nurses today have a wider range of potential employers to evaluate than ever before: “everybody” is hiring nurses across the U.S. and a staggering 1 out of 3 nurses left their jobs in the past 5 years.

Nursing retention needs to be top of mind for any healthcare institution. According to several studies, the cost of recruiting and training a new nurse ranges from $22K to over $64K and this does not account for the intangible losses: clinical knowledge, productivity, or cultural impact.

Here are several ways to improve nurse retention and prevent vacancies from cropping up:

  1. Build employee engagement; disengaged nurses are detrimental to your institution. They bring down morale, discourage other nurses from doing their best clinical work, and deliver less than stelar patient care. Unfortunately, only 1 in 5 nurses say they are “very engaged”.
  2. Get recognition and rewards right; nurses who feel appreciated work harder and stay at hospitals longer, but 2 out of 3 say they do not feel recognized or rewarded. Building a culture of recognition requires routine social and monetary rewards, preferably using a platform that helps everyone get in on the action.
  3. Provide avenues for professional development. Unsurprisingly, there is a direct link between low investment in nurse’s development and their turnover.
  4. Build a culture nurses want to be a part of. Culture is paramount to attracting and retaining top nurses. Cultivating a strong hospital culture will deepen existing nurses’ relationships, pave the way for better clinical care, and draw in exceptional talent.
  5. Offer winning incentives. Incentives are a concrete way to acknowledge nurses for their fantastic work. There are endless ways to incentivize: first, make sure that the compensation your organization offers is appropriate; then review other monetary incentives like referral programs, tuition reimbursement, and profit-sharing. Other incentives that keep your nurses healthy and happy: wellness rewards like gym memberships or subscriptions to meditation apps can help your employees unwind and take care of themselves.
  6. Manage to retain. The relationship between managers and their direct reports can make an enormous impact on the nurse’s experience. Almost half of nurses quit their job because of a bad manager, and 60% think their managers need training. According to employee surveys, only 25% of nurses strongly agree the feedback they get from managers helps their work/clinical performance.
  7. Prevent burnout by focusing on employee wellness. 2 out of 3 nurses experience burnout on the job. Try giving nurses more flexible hours, make sure that responsibilities and expectations are clear and appropriate. Encourage nurses to use their vacation time and help them find activities that ignite their expertise.


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