In today's nursing job market, it's a challenge for hospitals to retain RNs, especially those who possess specific skill sets, as healthcare facilities are competing for the limited supply of experienced nurses. The inability to retain qualified RNs can have consequences on patient care, as well as to the organization, such as an increase in financial costs and the potential for malpractice claims.
The past four years have seen a steady rise in hospital turnover rates. The current rate is 17.2%, up from 13.5% in 2011. Because the U.S. economy has been on the upswing since the recession, hospitals are hiring and nurses are enjoying the flexibility to choose the best job that suits their needs.
The Retention Institute at NSI Nursing Solutions Inc. provides industry insight to help facilities benchmark nursing performance, identify best practices and understand emerging trends in nursing recruitment and retention.
In January 2015, NSI Nursing Solutions invited hospitals all across the country to participate in a comprehensive survey on healthcare turnover, hospital retention programs and their strategic value, and nurse recruitment.
There are many strategies that hospitals can implement to improve job satisfaction for nurses on staff. The following tactics were mentioned in NSI's survey as ways to improve retention rates:
Offer competitive benefits, such as above-market pay, profit sharing, retention bonuses,
pay for performance, on-site child care, and elder care benefits.
Provide continuing education offerings, scholarships or student loans, tuition assistance, management development training, and mentorship opportunities.
Present flexible scheduling options, such as self scheduling, no mandatory overtime, float/flex staffing pool, no mandatory weekends, or every third weekend on.
In addition to a tangible benefits package, simply boosting morale can also help in keeping nurses on the job. Here are some things leadership can do that cost nothing, but go a long way in making staff feel appreciated.
1. Recognize great work. Show appreciation for excellent work by recognizing the efforts of outstanding nurses.
2. Be available. Administrators should get out of the office and walk the units to observe what’s going on, and to show nurses that supervisors are there for them when needed.
3. Focus on orientation. Consider extending the length of orientation and personalizing it to meet the individual needs of new nurses. Take extra time with new hires to help them adjust and feel comfortable.
4. Practice shared governance. Promote an environment where nurses actively participate in the decision-making processes at the unit level. Autonomy is identified by RNs as an important job satisfier. In shared governance, staff members have influence on professional issues, practice guidelines, and working conditions in their units.
Some examples include self-scheduling, using practice councils to address practice issues, utilizing unit performance improvement teams, and facilitating staff input into policy matters such as workload and acuity issues. Nurses should also be encouraged to represent the unit in organizational decision making by taking part in strategic planning committees.
What types of retention strategies does your facility use to attract and retain great nurses? Leave us a comment below!
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