When it comes to nursing retention in healthcare, Human Resources departments large and small face mounting challenges. In response, an effective nurse retention strategy is best facilitated by working with a qualified healthcare coach and consultants to help them effectively adapt to the current state of shortage.
Why focus on nursing retention in healthcare?
When you find that right employee, you expect to retain them because it costs hospitals a lot of money to hire the best health practitioners. In fact, According to the 2019 National Healthcare Retention & RN Staffing Report, it costs between $40,300 and $64,000 to replace one clinical nurse, with the average hospital losing $4.4 million to $6.9 million each year. For the healthcare industry to thrive in today’s economy, more and more organizations are turning to qualified healthcare consultants to help them effectively adapt to changing industry norms and retain top staff.
The fact is, registered nurses are the glue to the healthcare system running smoothly. The turnover of an RN is costly.”Eighteen percent of new nurses will change jobs or even professions within the first year after graduation. An additional one-third leave within 2 years. Nationally, the nursing turnover rate averages 19.1% and is expected to increase, with a nursing vacancy rate of 8%. Nursing turnover can be extremely costly for organizations” (Lockhart, 2020).
Hospitals need to meet their nurses where they’re at; tired from working short-staffed over long hours. Shift length is a significant barrier to retaining nurses, because it affects their lives and personal relationships. The world is in need of a solid “national hiring and retention strategy”. Leaders have to come together with empathy and strategy, to retain their most prized health practitioners. However, nurses also need to be provided with the sufficient training and development opportunities to be well, with sound daily health habits.
Effective Nurse Retention Strategy – Satori’s Top 3 Keys:
- improve nurse’s work life balance,
- have a better understanding of what makes your nurses leave, and
- offer additional incentives.
As shown in the diagram below, competitive salary/benefits, encouraging professional relationships and training effective leaders are also key to effectively retain employees. These would be no different to nurses and health care professionals. Without those key components you won’t likely be able to retain quality staff. But with the health care industry being severely strained, leaders would be wise to pay closer attention to what will make nurses stay.
#1. Improved Work-Life Balance
The key to an effective retention strategy is to provide a wide-range of opportunities for staff to improve work-life balance. Health administrator, Emily Morris, discusses one key strategy her hospital implemented; the “pathway to excellence”. “Pathway to Excellence focuses on empowering nurses and their practice and promoting engagement. It has a unique well-being standard focused specifically on nursing retention. “Pathway to Excellence” gave nurses a voice in organizational initiatives such as work–life balance, staffing and scheduling.
Using the example above, a great adjunct to a well-being initiative like “Pathway to Excellence” would be Satori’s The ProMind Experience to boost a hospital’s retention strategy. Our program provides strategies for healthy outlets, peak performance strategies and mindfulness, and a unique team approach to well-being. By forming partnerships with an external organization, these creative workplace initiatives show dynamic concern and support to enhancing well-being, and work-life balance.
Satori’s Mindful Clinician community provides the opportunity for further dialogue amongst their peers, recognizing a culture of health and personal responsibility for each other’s wellbeing. Having a focus on wellbeing as a retention strategy develops capacity to adapt to new situations, while building emotional intelligence. See Part I & Part II of Why Your Hospital Needs An Experiential Program
#2. Have a Better Understanding Of What Makes Your Nurses Leave.
Since mental health is an issue at the forefront of every hospital executive’s mind, paying closing attention to what impedes nursing retention will help managers shift workplace retention policies. Many leaders are scratching their heads as to how they’re going to push through the COVID-19 changes to keep up with the demands of the most vulnerable communities. I get it!
While the predictors of distress for healthcare workers are still unknown, research exploring their psychological responses to previous epidemics of infectious disease found that the key predictors include: long working hours, lack of support and vital equipment, and feelings of vulnerability or loss of control. Others also include; concerns about the health of oneself and one’s family and feeling isolated.
The fact remain that nurses work long shifts and these extended work hours create stress for the family. The reduced time outside of work impacts how much the body can recoup. This stress produces a stress hormone called cortisol. If cortisol is prolonged for sustained periods, without adequate recovery (sleep, or meditation, supplements), you risk being in a state of adrenal fatigue. Once that happens, it can be hard to get-up for work in the morning, causing more sick time, extended absences. This will challenge any retention strategy in place for Healthcare HR departments.
What Are The Employee Retention Standards?
In peoplekeep.com, writer Josh Miner says “Standard employee retention rates are anywhere from 70% – 85% but vary greatly by industry and calculation method. For example, you can measure your retention rate based solely on voluntary turnover to assess company culture or include all terminated employees for a high-level view of overall performance”.
What kind of company culture will encourage YOUR nurses to stay?
Are your nurses leaving due to COVID-19 burnout? Or are they leaving because the shifts are too long to suit their family lives, and require a different schedule? Over time, a person’s values and beliefs might change when it comes to work-life balance.
#3. Offer Additional Incentives.
With the COVID-19 pandemic, hospitals need to shift their retention strategy. While the “evidence-based protocol” for increasing nurse retention typically encourages facilitating autonomy, improving communication, and offering recognition and rewards to their nurses, these are not supportive enough to the needs of the today’s healthcare environment (Gess, Manojlovich, & Warner, 2009).
Satori suggests that additional incentives for employee retention should come in the form of improved personal development and mindset training, supporting staff towards building sustainable health practices, such as mindfulness and meditation programs. By merging professional development with personal development, HR can have the thriving teams they can rave about.
COVID-19 is a trauma that will be forever implanted in the minds of the health care system all over the world. Additional incentives should come in the form of helping their staff feel the best way they can outside of work.
Remember that change starts from the top down. If the hospital leadership shows that personal development, and the wellbeing of their staff, matters then it can spread like wildfire to all departments. That is being a good leader! Being a hospital manager, supporting your staff by demonstrating empathetic practices, and engaging in conversation around good work-life balance, will certainly form great engagement opportunities.
In conclusion, Satori’s Top 3 Keys To an Effective Nursing Retention Strategy For Healthcare HR might not be an overnight change, however, by inculcating patience, sound strategy and the right experts, such as Satori Health & Wellness Coaching Ltd (and The ProMind Experience), be rest assured that you will eventually see change.
Morris, Emily Increasing Nurse Retention, AJN, American Journal of Nursing: August 2019 – Volume 119 – Issue 8 – p 10 doi: 10.1097/01.NAJ.0000577344.79136.9b
Lockhart, Lisa MHA, MSN, RN, NE-BC Strategies to reduce nursing turnover, Nursing Made Incredibly Easy!: March/April 2020 – Volume 18 – Issue 2 – p 56
An Evidence-Based Protocol for Nurse Retention. November 2008 The Journal of nursing administration 38(10):441-7