Nurse Retention Ideas and Examples

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Written by Kayla Tyson Editor, B2C Content, IntelyCare
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Reviewed by Alexa Davidson, MSN, RN Content Writer, IntelyCare
A team of nurses sitting together at a table, working out their strategies for improving nurse retention.

Nurse turnover rates are raising alarm bells throughout the medical world as organizations face increasingly complex staffing challenges. Healthcare leaders across the country are focused on identifying effective retention strategies for front-line nurses and aides to address the problem. If you’re facing high rates of turnover in your facility or residence, implement effective nurse retentionstrategies that encourage your nurses to stay.

A facility’s ability to keep its nursing positions filled has an impact on its overall operation. In fact, low retention leads to staggering increases to organizational costs and decreased quality of patient care. In this article, we’ll discuss some key considerations as you make a plan that incentivizes your nursing staff to stay with your organization.

Causes of Nurse Turnover

If you’re wondering how to reduce nurse turnover, it’s essential to look at the root causes. The Center for Medicare Advocacy reports that high staff turnover in long-term care facilities is caused by a range of factors, including low pay with limited or no benefits, physically demanding work, and unsustainable staffing ratios that lead to mental exhaustion.

Left unaddressed, these issues can lead to nurse burnout, which is often characterized by overwhelming fatigue, mental dissociation from work, cynicism, and decreased effectiveness. Burnout is frequently listed as a significant factor by nursing professionals who leave bedside care positions.

Nurse turnover can also result from moral injury — when a person must perform or witness actions that go against their deeply held values. For example, a nurse can experience moral injury if they are unable to provide the level of care they know a patient needs due to external factors, such as short staffing or poor leadership.

Nurse Retention Strategies

Recruit Strategically

What can hospitals do during the recruitment and selection process to help improve nurse retention? While this question typically arises when positions open up, it needs to be an ongoing consideration. It’s important to find the balance between filling the position quickly and finding the right person for the job. There are a variety of nursing recruitment best practices that can help you find quality candidates that are committed to your organization.

First, develop a strong job description that clearly outlines the benefits of working at your organization, like compensation packages, benefits, and scheduling flexibility. Be sure to clearly communicate your requirements and offerings so candidates aren’t surprised about the specifics later in the process.

Once you’ve created a strong job posting, share it through a range of channels: job boards, social media, nurse ambassadors, employee referrals, or nursing education programs. If you have a number of open positions to fill, consider creating a comprehensive nurse hiring campaign to find qualified candidates.

Example: A facility is in need of certified nursing assistants (CNAs). They post an optimized CNA job description in a range of locations. Once they’ve found a pool of applicants, they use strategic interview questions to identify those that align with the organization’s culture and goals.

Invest in Wellness

Be sure that your organization demonstrates a commitment to the overall health of your nurses and aides. The first step is to prioritize safe working conditions related to patient handling, workplace interactions, infection prevention, and other safety considerations.

Additionally, implement employee wellness initiatives that promote the physical, mental, and emotional well-being of your staff. Consider offering access to outside counseling services, stress management programs, or wellness coaches. Scheduling and breaks also play a part in nurse wellness, so evaluate how your facility’s current system may be impacting nurse retention.

Example: A facility creates a committee that consists of nursing leadership and staff from various departments to develop a wellness program. The program promotes free and useful self-care resources for the nursing staff and creates a policy allowing nurses to take a mental health day after a patient death

Encourage Professional Growth

Healthcare organizations can improve nurse retention by providing opportunities for professional growth. This can include professional development programs, continuing education, conferences, workshops, and certifications. A culture of learning and advancement will encourage nursing professionals to stay and develop their careers within your organization.

If your staff feels stuck or stagnant, they may seek employment elsewhere. It’s important that your nurses and aides are not just allowed, but truly encouraged, to pursue advances in their healthcare career.

Example: A staff nurse obtains additional certifications and continuing education offered by their facility. When an opening becomes available on their nurse management team, the nurse is offered the position.

Amplify Nurse Voices

Encourage open communication and collaboration throughout your organization. Make sure that your management team regularly shares updates, changes, and future plans to keep your nursing team informed.

Also, remember that communication is a two-way street. Seek out nurses’ perspectives and provide opportunities for input. This can be accomplished through a variety of means, like surveys, committees, feedback forms, open-door policies, and staff meetings.

If nurses express concerns, let them know that they are heard and understood. While you may have control over just some of the factors, take every possible action to address them. This will build trust and loyalty among your nursing staff.

Example: A nursing management team implements regular staff meetings but finds that their nursing team is afraid to voice their opinions. The managers implement an anonymous feedback mechanism to remove fears of retribution. At the next meeting, nurse managers take time to address concerns that were submitted.

What About Urgent Staffing Needs?

Learning how to improve nurse retention is a long and necessary process, but what if you also need a quicker solution? If you have urgent staffing needs in your facility or residence, we’re here to help. Partnering with IntelyCare gives you access to high-quality nursing professionals fast.