It’s a problem many nurse managers face — how to recruit and retain top nursing talent, especially if you’re already short staffed. It’s no secret that hiring nurses is an expensive, time-consuming process. But making sure you’ve got the right people on your team benefits not only your organization, but also your other staff members and the patients they care for.
According to some estimates, hospitals spend about $10,000 in direct recruitment costs for every RN position that needs to be filled. Other estimates suggest organizations pay anywhere from $418 to $591 each day for every RN position that’s vacant. That’s no small chunk of change, and it only represents a fraction of the cost of hiring and training new staff nurses.
Beyond costs directly associated with hiring new nurses, organizations pay for RN shortages through monies spent hiring travel or contingency staff, low employee morale, absenteeism, disruptions to care, and decreases in the quality of overall patient care. So how do you find — and keep — the best nurses for your unit? Taking certain steps ensure you’ll attract top talent that’s more likely to stay well beyond the initial hiring phase.
The average length of time to fill just one RN position is about 82 days. But it’s not unusual for the process to take 90 days or more depending on specialty area. Inefficient hiring practices drag the process out, making it more likely your candidates will wind up at other healthcare facilities.
Many hospitals have Nursing Recruitment Offices (NROs) that work in close collaboration with nurse managers on the floor. Together, you can help reduce the time it takes to bring a qualified candidate in for an interview by exploring alternative interviewing processes. A growing number of organizations are making use of open interviews held on the same day of the month, every month. Inviting qualified candidates, including recent applicants, to open interviews quickly helps you connect with nurses eager for work.
But an open interview day isn’t enough. You need to follow-up with top applicants within one or two days after their initial interview. This helps you keep the applicant’s interest and makes it more likely that the nurse will want to move forward with you.
It’s important to find nursing candidates whose personal and professional values are in line with your organization’s values and mission. Simple screening tools can assess an applicant’s value system, characteristics, and behaviors in certain situations. Such tools don’t have to be complicated — instead, you can create a tool rating nurses in different categories such as teamwork, caring, approach to care, communication, personal attributes, and work attitude. Some research shows such tools are effective in rating nurses and accurately reflect the characteristics of team members.
You’ve gotten through interviews, matched a nurse’s values to yours, and now need to check references. But this process can be frustrating and time-consuming, especially if you have to chase references down.
Make it easier to collect information about your applicants by allowing references to complete short surveys online. Many software companies offer recruitment tools that allow candidates’ references to quickly and easily input their opinions into online candidate surveys. You decide what questions are important to you, and the reference can add as much or as little information as he or she wants.
You can’t expect top nursing talent to want to stay at your hospital if you’re not transparent with them about the job. Every nurse applying for a position in your organization wants to be treated fairly and provided with ample opportunity to advance in their careers while earning a good living.
It’s essential to provide incoming job candidates with accurate information about what working on your unit is like. In all cases, job prospectors know much less about the unit and position for which they are applying than you do. Sharing up-to-date, relevant information about what each job applicant can expect saves you the time and hassle of replacing a nurse who quits after her orientation period ends.