It’s no secret that nurses are the most direct link to your patients.
You also know that happy, skilled, and engaged nurses are among the biggest contributors to a positive patient experience (and by extension, nurses are among the biggest drivers of revenue).
As vital as nurses are to the success of a hospital or other healthcare facility, it’s worth note that nurse turnover and nurse retention represent large (and growing) problems.
Becker’s Hospital Review states that healthcare ranks third nationwide in turnover rates. Even worse, turnover rates among nurses are on the rise. According to their research, 17.5% of newly licensed nurses leave after only one year on the job and a whopping 33.5% of new nurses leave after only two.
According to the University of New Mexico, “…the average cost of turnover a nurse ranges from $37,700 to $58,400. Hospitals can lose $5.2 million to $8.1 million annually.”
The cost of losing an experienced nurse goes far above and beyond expenses incurred recruiting and training a replacement. You also must factor:
- Decreased ability of your staff to spend adequate time with patients
- Inability to fill and serve all rooms in your hospital
- Decreased ability to maintain desired levels of patient satisfaction
- Additional stress on your nursing staff (potentially causing more to quit)
Considering the significant costs of losing headcount in your nursing staff, it would make sense to do what you can on the front end to keep nurses content in their jobs (even if it might increase your expenses).
- Promote a Healthy Work Culture
In the fast paced, intense world of healthcare, anxiety levels run high to begin with. Adding unnecessary drama to the equation can quickly inspire your nurses to update their resumes. According to Time Magazine, 51% of workers stay at their jobs because they like their coworkers, and 56% said they stay at their jobs because they feel connected to the organization as a whole. To keep your environment positive, do everything you can identify and solve problems, and especially keep an eye out for individuals who may be poisoning the well with inclinations toward drama.
- Properly Train Individuals When You Promote Them to Supervisory Roles
Since on some level, most nurses are in competition with their peers for promotions, it is virtually impossible to pick leaders without ruffling some feathers. However, if those you promote are unable to effectively perform their expanded roles, bruised egos among those passed over can grow into resentful employees, and ultimately ex-employees. Therefore, when picking leaders among your team, do everything you can to ensure their success.
- Provide Opportunity for Career Growth
No one wants a dead-end job. In addition, once a nurse has mastered his or her clinical skills in one area, that nurse may be looking for new challenges. Instead of letting your nurses seek new challenges elsewhere, find creative ways to help them expand their skill sets and grow their careers within your organization.
- Provide Opportunity for Continuing Education
Dovetailing into career growth is continuing education. As we all know, education is cost prohibitive for many. Any program that your organization can implement to help with costs (scholarship programs, loan assistance, covering tuition) will be appreciated and reciprocated with loyalty.
- Provide Incentives
Your nurses understand a hospital is a business, and that there is money being made off their heavy lifting. Providing incentives to perform well (like extra vacation days, bonuses, or profit-sharing programs) can help to inspire harder working and more dedicated nurses. If done correctly, these incentives can potentially pay for themselves many times over.
- Rotate Shifts
Talk to any healthcare professional, and they are likely to bring up the topic of burnout and compassion fatigue. Working in a hospital is inherently high stress, but some areas of the hospital may be higher stress than others. Instead of assigning a nurse to work in one high stress area the entire time, consider devising a schedule where a nurse can get a bit of break, or at least a change of scenery.
- Create a Fair and Equitable Work Environment
If you’ve ever seen that viral YouTube video, even monkeys know when they aren’t treated fairly. To keep your staff happy, maintain an equitable environment where certain employees aren’t assuming an unfair burden of difficult or unpleasant jobs and shifts.
- Say “Thank You”
This might sound far-fetched, but the difference between a satisfied employee and a disgruntled one may simply be the feeling that she or he is appreciated for the skills they bring to the table. Make no mistake, taking the time to acknowledge a nurse for a job well done won’t compensate for systemic problems with an organization, but it can help get a dedicated employee through an occasional rough patch.
- Empower Your Nurses
Nobody likes to be micromanaged or made to feel like their opinion doesn’t matter. Provide opportunities for nurses to submit suggestions to improve processes and procedures. Promote their ability to make decisions where appropriate. Involve nurses in the hiring process when adding new nurses to the staff. The more an individual feels “ownership” of an organization, the more that individual will want to remain a part of it.
- Keep Your Department Fully Staffed
Few things will burn out a healthcare professional faster than a short staff. A lot of factors will contribute to your ability to maintain appropriate headcount in your nursing unit. However, one thing that can help is leveraging nursing agencies that are well versed in recruitment process outsourcing. This method of outsourcing is beneficial to hospitals and healthcare facilities because it focuses on best practices to recruit reliable, long-term employees as opposed to filling short term gaps. This can help foster a workplace stability that can stem turnover and protect profits.
We hope you found these nurse retention strategies helpful. Schedule time with Dan Wood and Chris Nichols at endevis Recruiting/Retention for more information on gearing up your nursing staff for success.