Nurses are a vital part of the healthcare sector but are often overworked, underpaid, and underappreciated. The past two years have taken an especially serious toll on nurses, putting them under immense pressure and stress as we navigated complex and challenging times with the pandemic.
Burned out, pushed to the point of exhaustion, and facing incredible amounts of stress, many nurses are choosing to leave the profession. Coupled with nurses retiring and not as many young adults choosing nursing as a career path, there is a national nursing shortage. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics projects 194,500 average annual openings for registered nurses between 2020 and 2030, with employment forecast to grow by 9%.
As an employer, attracting and retaining nursing staff is critical. With nurses in such high demand, what are some nursing recruitment and retention strategies that employers can adopt, apart from offering attractive salaries? In this article, we are sharing some ways to retain nurses in your organization and motivate them to continue in their career path as nurses.
Nurse Retention Strategies That Work
Foster A Positive Workplace Culture
One of the most important elements of your nursing staff retention strategy should be the workplace culture. In many workplaces, there is a lack of a positive workplace culture that fosters collaboration and team-building. Nurses often feel like they have no say in any of the workplace decisions, and feel disempowered to perform their duties to the best of their abilities.
This can lead to nurses feeling dissatisfied or disillusioned about their jobs and may start seeking employment elsewhere. When thinking about how to retain nursing staff, it can be useful to think about how to get nurses to feel invested in the organization. This can be as simple as including all staff in discussions and decisions concerning them or the workplace. Getting nurses involved in the processes of the organization can help create buy-in and makes them feel like they have a stake in the outcomes.
Nurses often serve as the bridge between patients and their healthcare team, including doctors, pharmacists, occupational therapists, physical therapists, phlebotomists, nutritionists, radiology technologists, and more. They walk a fine line and have to manage varying demands from these parties. Mistakes inevitably happen and sometimes, there may be complaints. In such situations, it is your responsibility as the manager to support your nursing staff.
Nurses need to feel like someone has their back – they need to know they have a manager or someone on their floor who will support them and back them up. While it is important to address any mistakes made or complaints lodged, do so professionally and avoid approaching conversations with nurses aggressively or defensively. Take the time to listen to what your nurses have to say, and support them as best as possible. When nurses feel like they have a manager or supervisor who supports them and is on their side, they are more likely to stay at the organization.
When you consider the fact that healthcare workers were most likely to quit their jobs because of management, it makes sense that retaining nurses in the workplace has a lot to do with your role as a manager.
Provide Mental Health Resources
Nurses juggle a multitude of tasks in a professional capacity. From ensuring that patients receive the right medications to updating doctors about patient status to managing family members of patients – nurses have a full plate, and this is not taking into consideration having to work overtime or night shifts. It is no surprise that many nurses report feeling stressed out, overwhelmed, and mentally exhausted. Over time, this continual mental exertion could drive nurses to quit their jobs or seek out less stressful roles.
As an employer, caring for your nurses’ mental health is part of providing them with a safe and healthy workplace for them to thrive. As such, part of your strategy for retaining nurses in the workplace could include mental health resources for them to tap into. Whether it’s providing them access to free or subsidized therapy sessions, or encouraging them to take time off for their mental health, it is important to offer nurses support in this area to help them avoid burnout.
One of the resources you could direct your nursing staff access to is #1 Premiere Continuing Education’s Self Care and Mental Health course. This hour-long course provides helpful information about the need for self-care, possible self-care activities, and crisis information. This course is completely free and designed to offer guidance around self-care and mental health to professionals, including nurses.
Facilitate Access to Nurses’ Continuing Education
As a manager, it is up to you to create a workplace culture that allows your nurses to flourish and maximize their potential. One of the things that can help with this is facilitating their access to continuing education.
Every nurse needs to fulfill certain requirements around continuing education hours as mandated by their states and local boards to maintain their licenses. Paying for these courses is an investment that nurses need to make regularly, and paying out-of-pocket can quickly add up. A strategy that could help with recruiting and retaining nurses is to provide them with access to the training they need so they don’t have to pay on their own. Additionally, giving them access to courses that they can do at a time that fits their schedule and that they do not have to attend in person is also a plus. With nurses’ unusual hours, 12-hour shifts, rotating shifts, and other responsibilities, it is hard for them to find time to fit in courses for continuing education. Giving nurses more flexibility in their already hectic schedules with high-quality, accessible education is valuable.
#1 Premiere Continuing Educations offers an Unlimited Nursing CEU Subscription, which includes access to over 100 continuing education hours for healthcare workers. All courses on the platform meet state, department, and board license requirements, and some courses even include electronic reporting to CE Broker and state agencies to streamline the process of keeping nurse licenses up to date.
Providing nurses with free or subsidized access to a platform where they can complete the necessary requirements to maintain their licensure is a clear signal that you as an employer are invested in their professional development – incentivizing them to stay with your organization for longer.
Courses meet state, department and board license requirements
For select courses, electronic reporting to CE Broker & state agencies
Plus, new courses added throughout the year
Membership automatically renews annually until canceled
100+ healthcare continuing education hours.
Sometimes, the most simple acts can make a world of difference. At the end of the day, nurses are human – few things that can compare to feeling appreciated and valued. Showing your appreciation for your nursing staff’s hard work and dedication can be a powerful nurse retention strategy that only requires a little bit of thoughtfulness.
Take the time to recognize the efforts of your nurses regularly. Avoid saying a generic “good job”. Instead, highlight specific instances where they went beyond the call of duty during team meetings, or privately share your appreciation for something specific they did in their job. It’s something that takes just a few moments but makes a lasting impact.
As the nursing shortage becomes more intense, employers and managers will need to take additional steps to recruit and retain nurses in the workplace. By creating a safe and positive workplace culture where nurses feel valued and appreciated, and offering them support professionally and personally, we can ensure that we have a thriving workforce of nurses in our organization.
One easy step you can take right away is to invest in your nurses’ continued professional development. Help your nurses fulfill their continuing education requirements by purchasing the Unlimited Nursing CEU Subscription for your entire nursing team. With courses available for every state and new courses being added regularly, your nurses will be benefit from adding to their CEU requirements. Find out more here.