Combatting The Shortage: 3 Strategies For Better Nurse Retention
With fluctuating demands, healthcare facilities are struggling to keep up. While this talent shortage is being felt across all specialties, nursing is one area that has been hit particularly hard. As a result, hospitals and other medical organizations are offering expensive perks and unique incentives in an attempt to set themselves apart when hiring nurses.
“It’s no surprise that RNs today have their pick of job opportunities and facilities to work with,” says Wendy Barton, Executive Vice President of Tandym Health. “Not only does this contribute to a very competitive recruiting environment, but it can also lead to higher turnover—making it more difficult to deliver high quality care.”
This is an issue that will only worsen in the years to come as more nurses leave the profession. By 2024, the BLS projects a need for 649,100 replacement nurses—bringing the total number of job openings for nurses due to growth and replacements to 1.09 million. Plus, a 2021 survey of hospital and healthcare executives ranked “Retaining talent or employee turnover” as the #2 concern, right behind “Quality of care and patient safety.”
“Struggling to secure talent, many medical facilities are getting creative when hiring,” says Katie Niekrash, Senior Vice President of Tandym Health. “While signing bonuses and free housing are certainly nice perks to offer during the onboarding process, the focus really needs to be on retention. If your nurses don’t have a positive workplace experience, nothing is going to stop them from looking for a new job after one or two years. This will only leave your facility in the same position time and time again.”
High turnover will not only cost you $37,700 to $58,400 per nurse, but it can also impact your ability to attract future talent. Here are 3 strategies that can help medical facilities improve nurse retention:
Reinforce a positive and flexible workplace culture
According to our 2022 Healthcare Hiring Outlook, 62% of organizations are facing challenges managing staff burnout. With morale getting lower with each new wave of the pandemic, positive culture and work-life balance are crucial elements to retaining your nursing staff.
Leaders can tackle this issue by creating a positive model of professional and supportive workplace interaction. One way to boost morale is by implementing mentor programs, so nurses feel they have support from each other. It might also be a good idea to coordinate informal review sessions between department heads and their nursing staff to encourage positive feedback and a supportive working environment.
Additionally, providing flexible scheduling wherever possible can help your nurses take more control over their work in a time where it is difficult to control anything. The ability to simply manage work and family life is a benefit your RNs will appreciate.
Promote educational growth
A 2017 survey of 4,500 nurses found that 80% of millennial nurses and 57% of Gen Xers plan to pursue higher education. With this in mind, medical facilities can develop nurse retention programs to help their colleagues achieve their educational goals. Leaders can assist motivated nurses by implementing onsite educational programs, providing flexible scheduling options for nurses balancing work and school, offering tuition reimbursement, and sharing avenues through which nurses can earn certifications.
Provide opportunities for advancement through succession planning
When managing a high patient volume, it can be easy to focus on the day-to-day operations of the facility. However, organizations also need to think big picture in terms of the growth they are offering their staff. “To improve nurse retention, you need to understand how your nurses will advance with the organization as their career progresses,” advises Katie. “Then you have to take the steps to motivate them to take advantage of these opportunities. For example, milestone bonuses, continuous training, and leadership development programs are three initiatives that can help communicate their value.”
It’s also important for more recent hires to see a tangible path to leadership. By nurturing younger talent, you can motivate them to work harder and stay with the organization for the long haul.