For years, the healthcare industry has been facing the challenge of maintaining well-qualified, dedicated employees. This is particularly true for the nursing profession, which had a turnover rate of almost 16% in 2019, according to a study by NSI Nursing Solutions.
The same study showed that the rising vacancy rate of registered nurses (RN) is a clear indicator of a staffing crisis. By easing the average cost of turnover for bedside RNs, a healthcare facility can save an additional $306,400 per year.
Why Do Nurses Quit?
Reasons vary on why nurses decide to leave, but a healthcare facility should look into the common causes cited for nurse turnover. Interestingly, surveys by different organizations have discovered that salary is usually not the primary reason nurses quit their jobs; in fact, it’s not a significant factor. Taking away old age and retirement, these are the main reasons for the growing voluntary turnover of nurses:
Lack of Flexibility and Work-Life Balance
The shortage of nurses leads to increased work hours and overtime, making work-life balance elusive for many registered nurses. Working longer hours, doing double shifts, and picking up the workload of those who left contribute to nurses’ growing dissatisfaction and stress at work. Often, this situation pushes RNs to leave their jobs.
Bullying and Incivility
The healthcare facility is not exempt from incidents of workplace violence. A nurse may feel demotivated when they become the target of bullying and incivility by their teammates. They might also be the target of violence or harassment by their patients, leading to feelings of stress and depression.
Unclear Role or Lack of Control over Job Performance
A nurse’s performance may suffer if they don’t know what the hospital or clinic expects from them or what their position entails. They also experience a lack of motivation if their superior doesn’t acknowledge their work or doesn’t correct them when they make any mistakes.
Minimal Opportunities for Growth
A nurse may not know how she could maximize their skills and grow professionally in the healthcare industry. They may not feel that their employer is helping them discover opportunities and training them for further growth.
High Nurse Retention Leads to Better Patient Care
A 2015 study in the medical journal BMJ Open showed that hospitals with a high nurse-to-patient ratio have a 20% lower patient mortality rate. The study defines the high ratio as one nurse caring for fewer than six patients.
The study attributed this finding to the fact that nurses provide round-the-clock care to a patient, unlike doctors who are available for just a short time per day or only when scheduled.
Another study by the University of Pennsylvania discovered that nurse satisfaction affects the quality of patient care. Hospitals with nurses who work on shorter shifts showed a lower mortality rate among patients than those with nurses that work on longer shifts.
Improving Nurse Satisfaction and Retention
From the reasons mentioned above, a straightforward way of improving nurse retention is by keeping them happy and satisfied with their job. This is possible with the following strategies:
Streamline their tasks
Let your nurses focus more on patient care and less on time-consuming, administrative work. Look into practice management services and software to make it easier for your nurses to pull out patient information and do other duties.
Offer flexible work hours
Not all types of flexible work options will be suitable to every healthcare facility, but consider options like:
- Flexible shifts
- Job sharing
- Annualized hours contracts
- Zero-hour contract
These flexible work options will give nurses control over their work, giving them opportunities to pursue personal activities.
Create a Positive Workplace Environment
A positive workplace culture contributes to better patient experience and overall job satisfaction of nurses. Some of the ways you can improve the workplace culture are by encouraging collaboration, celebrating daily successes, and promoting nurse health and wellness.
Offer Job Development and Learning Opportunities
Some employees leave their jobs for a chance to learn new skills or to pursue careers with better advancement opportunities. You can retain your top talent by:
- Providing development opportunities (like workshops and seminars) for both a nurse’s technical and people-focused skills
- Implementing programs such as senior-junior or senior-new hire employee mentoring
- Supporting an employee’s continuing education, either by financing their studies or adjusting their schedule
- Offering a career ladder program
- Assisting the employee with job transitioning
Improve communication within the team
Regular staff meetings help address any issues or concerns nurses may have. This could be a short huddle at the beginning or the end of the day. Your staff will report critical information on each patient that everyone needs to know, including:
- The status of the patient
- Tests scheduled for the day
- Safety issues
- Plan for the day
Increase leader visibility
Nurses want to connect with and learn from their seniors, as well as engage in their workplace’s strategic direction. Improve their job satisfaction by leveraging a variety of communication channels—like emails, formal and informal meetings, and social media—for leaders to share their stories and perspectives, as well as give context to issues.
Nurses play an essential role in patient care at any healthcare facility. Getting them to stay in your workplace is crucial to improving the quality of your patient care. By addressing issues with job satisfaction and work environment, you make your nurses more inclined to stay with you and improve your services.