When it comes to exceptional healthcare and a positive experience for patients, satisfied and experienced nurses are crucial.
Unfortunately, a major crisis hitting many healthcare facilities across the nation is a drop in nurse retention.
Nurse retention is a critical issue in the healthcare industry, as high nurse turnover rates can negatively impact the quality of care and patient outcomes. Not to mention, the increased stress on staffing coordinators and other staff members.
Turnover rates can be costly for healthcare organizations, with national averages ranging from $40,000 to $64,000 to replace a single registered nurse.
For these reasons, healthcare leaders and hospital administrators are increasingly focused on developing effective nurse retention strategies to reduce turnover rates in the workplace.
Several key factors can influence nurse retention rates, including job satisfaction, work-life balance, and opportunities for professional growth and development.
Thankfully, there are steps and actions that nursing managers and Directors of Nursing can take to alleviate some of these concerns.
Effective retention strategies should address these factors and provide nurses with the support and resources to feel valued and engaged in their work.
Let’s discuss in more depth why nurse retention is valuable, key factors that likely influence a healthcare facility’s nurse retention, and strategies to reduce nurse turnover.
- Nurse retention is critical for ensuring quality patient care and reducing costs associated with turnover.
- Factors influencing nurse retention rates include job satisfaction, work-life balance, and opportunities for professional growth and development.
- Effective retention strategies should address these factors and provide nurses with the support and resources they need to feel valued and engaged in their work.
Why is Nurse Retention Important?
IN THIS ARTICLE
In the medical profession, the retention of nurses is more important than ever.
Nurse retention rates are indicators of job satisfaction, morale, and team cohesion.
The growing nursing shortage, which is expected to reach over one million nurses needed by 2030, has been accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Defining Turnover in Nursing
Turnover in nursing refers to the number of nurses who leave their current position or the profession altogether.
What is the impact of nurse turnover?
High turnover rates can lead to staffing shortages, decreased morale, and increased workload for remaining staff.
What is the Current Nurse Turnover Rate?
According to Advisory, the current national turnover rate for RNs is 22.5%. This is down about 5% from 2021 but up 4% from 2020.
Avoiding Nurse Burnout
Nurse burnout is a significant contributor to nurse turnover.
No one likes doing more work than necessary in any job profession. Now, imagine having to do additional work when you quite literally have patients’ lives in your hands.
Burnout can be caused by a variety of factors, including high workload due to poor patient ratios, inadequate staffing, and a lack of support from management.
Even if it is temporary, high nurse turnover leads to high-quality nurses having to cover additional shifts and that could unfortunately lead to a facility’s best nurses looking for new employment opportunities, as well.
By implementing strategies to avoid burnout, such as providing adequate staffing levels, offering support programs, and encouraging self-care, nurses can have better peace of mind, work-life balance, and job satisfaction.
Cost of Nurse Turnover
On the surface level, it may feel like one nurse is out and you can equally replace them at the same cost. That is not the case.
The cost of nurse turnover can be significant.
According to Becker’s Hospital Review, the average cost of hiring and training a registered nurse (RN) can range from $28,400 to $51,700.
These expenses add up quickly, costing $3.6 to $6.5 million annually per hospital. Therefore, reducing nurse turnover can lead to significant cost savings for healthcare organizations.
Impact of Turnover on Healthcare
High nurse turnover rates may severely impact patient care and safety, which should be any healthcare facility’s utmost concern.
When nurses leave their positions, it can lead to staffing shortages, increased workload for the remaining staff, and decreased team morale.
Also, a stressed nurse who is spreading themselves too thin is more likely to make a mistake. Therefore, reducing nurse turnover is essential for maintaining high-quality patient care and safety.
Key Factors Influencing Nurse Retention
Now that we have a better understanding of the harm that nurse turnover can cause your healthcare facility, let’s do a deeper dive into the factors that actually influence nurse retention.
Important Note: While we all love more money, that isn’t the end all, be all.
Compensation and Benefits
As a baseline, we will start with pay.
People put in hard work, have dedicated countless hours to their craft, and like to be compensated fairly.
Nurses who are paid competitive wages and receive comprehensive benefits are more likely to be satisfied and remain with their current employer. This also includes benefits such as health insurance, retirement plans, and paid time off.
Additionally, healthcare leaders must ensure that nurses receive regular salary increases to reflect their experience and expertise.
Work Environment and Culture
The work environment and culture are critical factors that affect nurse retention.
Whether a nurse feels like they are walking on eggshells or if it appears there is poor leadership and the facility is managed in chaos, a mismanaged work environment can quickly deter high-quality nurses.
Naturally, nurses who work in a positive and supportive environment are more likely to stay with their current employer.
A healthy work environment includes factors such as adequate staffing levels, manageable workload, and autonomy.
Recognition and Respect
We all like to feel valued in our place of employment.
Nurses who feel valued and respected are more likely to remain with their current employer.
Healthcare organizations must provide opportunities for nurses to receive recognition for their hard work and dedication.
This can include rewards, bonuses, and promotions. Additionally, healthcare leaders must ensure that nurses are treated with respect and dignity in the workplace.
Professional Growth and Training
The best nursing professionals never want to stifle or plateau their knowledge. Growth plans and additional training are essential for nurse retention.
Conferences, workshops, and routine training sessions can help nurses stay in the know when it comes to new industry trends and practices.
Beyond training and education, nurses want to truly believe that there is an opportunity for professional growth and career advancements at their healthcare facility, too.
We have uncovered some of the top factors that lead to poor nurse retention. So, what can your healthcare facility do to combat these high nurse turnover rates?
10 Effective Retention Strategies
1. Identify the Main Cause of Nurse Turnover at Your Healthcare Facility
To develop effective retention strategies, healthcare facilities must first identify the root cause of nurse turnover.
This will force you to be introspective and look at your healthcare facility through the lens of your nurses. Direct feedback is valuable here, as well.
Refer to exit interviews, surveys, and focus groups. Common causes of nurse turnover include lack of support, poor leadership, inadequate compensation, and high workload.
2. Create a Shared Vision for Your Nurses
Creating a shared vision for nurses sets clear goals and expectations. Additionally, this can provide excellent opportunities for professional development and encourage collaboration.
To start building a shared vision, consider:
- Your healthcare facility’s “Why”
- Assess your medical center’s current state
- Define goals and actions
- Properly communicate your vision and subsequent strategies.
3. Leadership and Management
Effective leadership and management are essential for nurse retention. Leaders must be supportive, approachable, and provide clear direction.
They must also be able to manage stress and avoid burnout.
The best way for this to occur is by having a pulse on their team and being able to see upcoming hurdles.
4. Develop a Strong Onboarding and Orientation Program
A strong onboarding and orientation program should provide new nurses with the necessary skills and knowledge to succeed in their roles. It should also include preceptorship and mentorship programs.
Mentorship programs are great at developing relationships and a sense of belonging within units, while still promoting continued learning and support.
Top orientation best practices include creating a new employee orientation checklist, scheduling one-on-one time between new nurses and the Director of Nursing or a nursing leader, automating as much paperwork as possible, and providing clear paths to career development.
5. Clear Communication
Nothing is more frustrating than mixed messages or feeling like you are not heard. Multiply that frustration by ten when it involves a medical setting and injured or sick patients.
Clear communication is essential for nurse retention. As always, communication should be open, honest, and transparent.
This includes providing regular feedback and addressing concerns promptly.
6. Career Advancement Opportunities
Nursing is a unique profession, but statistics show that people are more likely now than ever to jump from job to job.
Why is this the case? A lack of internal growth opportunities.
Providing career advancement opportunities is an effective way to retain nurses. This means providing opportunities for professional development, continuing education, and leadership roles.
7. Eliminate Mandatory Overtime
This may be easier said than done, but mandatory overtime can be an underlying cause of nurse turnover.
When nurses work longer than 12-hour shifts on a consistent basis without adequate time off in between, it can lead to nurse burnout and resentment.
In the end, that can also lead to subpar patient care.
8. Competitive Wages and Benefits
Competitive wages are crucial when it comes to retaining your nursing staff.
More often than not, poor pay will be received as either disrespect or a facility that is not performing well. Either way, these are conditions that could lead your best nursing professionals to seek new employment.
In addition, a competitive compensation package should be offered. This should include health insurance, retirement plans, and other benefits.
9. Emphasize Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI)
Emphasizing diversity, equity, and inclusion is essential for nurse retention.
No nurse should ever feel as if they are treated differently due to their race, gender, or sexual orientation.
The way this can permeate through an otherwise healthy working environment can be what may be assumed to be playful jokes. However, this can not be tolerated.
Healthcare facilities must provide a welcoming and inclusive environment that promotes diversity and equality.
10. Work-Life Balance Initiatives
Every nurse strives for a strong work-life balance. Admittedly, it can be difficult given the nature of the nursing profession and the hours that are demanded.
Therefore, when a facility steps up to the challenge and presents opportunities for nurses to engage in a healthy work-life balance, it encourages nurses to stay focused, productive, and happy in their workplace.
Work-life balance can be developed through strategies such as scheduling flexibility, ample PTO, wellness programs, support groups, and clear communication.
Measuring Nurse Retention Success and Continuous Improvement
Effective nurse retention strategies do not end with the implementation of a plan.
Nurse retention strategies should be continuously reviewed and improved to ensure that they remain relevant and effective.
Here are a few ways to examine and evaluate your healthcare facility’s nurse retention strategies and success.
Assessment and Feedback Mechanisms
Assessment tools can help identify the factors that contribute to nurse turnover, such as workload, lack of support, and inadequate compensation.
By collecting data through surveys, focus groups, and interviews, healthcare organizations can gain insights into the specific needs and concerns of their nursing staff.
Important Note: If collecting information on work culture via surveys, remember to keep them anonymous to ensure you receive honest answers.
Feedback mechanisms, such as regular performance evaluations, can also help identify areas for improvement and provide opportunities for dialogue between nurses and their supervisors.
Retention Metrics and KPIs
Measuring the success of retention strategies requires the use of retention metrics and KPIs.
These metrics help to identify areas of success and areas that require improvement. Reviewing these metrics regularly provides a clear picture of the effectiveness of the implemented strategies.
Some of the retention metrics that nurse managers can use include turnover rates, retention rates, vacancy rates, and time-to-fill positions.
These metrics provide valuable insight into the nursing workforce, staffing, and recruitment. For instance, high turnover rates and vacancy rates may indicate staffing challenges, while low retention rates may signal dissatisfaction among nursing staff.
Key performance indicators (KPIs) are another essential tool for measuring success.
KPIs are specific, measurable, and actionable metrics that help to track progress towards specific goals.
Examples of KPIs that nurse managers can use include employee satisfaction scores, patient satisfaction scores, and productivity levels.
Choose a Guaranteed Nurse Staffing Solution
It is important to cultivate a work culture at your healthcare facility that promotes happy, satisfied, and productive nurses. Implementing these strategies we’ve discussed will go a long way in ensuring you reach success in minimizing nurse turnover.
However, there are occasions when even the best work culture may have difficulty staffing high-quality nurses.
If you find yourself in this situation, NurseRegistry can help.
NurseRegistry has an extensive pool of RNs and LVN/LPNs in California and Florida who are experienced, skilled, and reliable.
We offer industry-leading scheduling flexibility, so your healthcare organization will swiftly receive a nurse with the exact skill set that you require.
If this nurse staffing partnership sounds valuable to your healthcare facility, click below to learn more about NurseRegistry.
Frequently Asked Questions about Nurse Retention and Turnover
What factors are most effective in retaining nursing staff?
Several factors can be effective in retaining nursing staff, such as offering competitive salaries, benefits packages, and flexible work schedules. Providing opportunities for professional development and career advancement can also help retain nursing staff. Additionally, creating a positive work environment, showing appreciation for nursing staff, and providing support for work-life balance can be effective strategies for retaining nursing staff.
What is the main cause of nurse turnover?
There are several causes of nurse turnover, including burnout, job dissatisfaction, lack of support, and inadequate staffing. Nurses may leave their jobs due to a lack of opportunities for professional development, career advancement, and work-life balance. Additionally, nurses may leave their jobs due to poor working conditions, low morale, and inadequate compensation.
Why is nurse burnout so high?
Nurse burnout can result from several factors, including high workload, inadequate staffing, and long work hours. Burnout can also be caused by a lack of support, recognition, and appreciation for nursing staff. When nurses experience burnout, it can lead to job dissatisfaction, decreased productivity, and increased turnover rates.
How does high nurse turnover impact patient outcomes and care quality?
High nurse turnover rates can negatively impact patient outcomes and care quality. When nurses leave their jobs, it can lead to staffing shortages, which can increase workload and stress for the remaining staff. This can result in decreased job satisfaction and burnout, which can negatively impact patient care. Additionally, high nurse turnover rates can lead to decreased continuity of care and decreased patient satisfaction.
How can hospitals increase nurse retention?
Hospitals can increase nurse retention by implementing strategies such as offering competitive salaries and benefits packages, providing opportunities for professional development and career advancement, and creating a positive work environment. Additionally, hospitals can provide support for work-life balance, show appreciation for nursing staff, and address issues related to job satisfaction and burnout.
What are the primary causes contributing to high nurse turnover rates?
The primary causes contributing to high nurse turnover rates include job dissatisfaction, burnout, inadequate staffing, and lack of support. Nurses may also leave their jobs due to inadequate compensation, a lack of opportunities for professional development and career advancement, and poor working conditions.
How can healthcare organizations implement policies to improve nurse retention?
Healthcare organizations can implement policies to improve nurse retention by addressing issues related to job satisfaction, burnout, and inadequate staffing. Policies can be implemented to provide support for work-life balance, offer competitive salaries and benefits packages, and provide opportunities for professional development and career advancement. Additionally, healthcare organizations can create a positive work environment, show appreciation for nursing staff, and address issues related to morale and job satisfaction.
What nursing specialty has the highest turnover rate?
According to a 2019 staffing report compiled by NSI Nursing Solutions, Inc., the nursing specialty with the highest turnover rate is medical/surgical nursing, followed by emergency department nursing and critical care nursing.
What are the tangible benefits of maintaining high nurse retention in healthcare facilities?
Maintaining high nurse retention in healthcare facilities can provide several tangible benefits, such as decreased turnover costs, increased productivity, and improved patient outcomes. Additionally, high nurse retention can lead to increased job satisfaction, decreased burnout, and improved morale among nursing staff.