‘ve met many of the influential nurse leaders, human resource professionals and health care executives, and I’ve spoken to hundreds, perhaps thousands, of business experts.
I have often wondered why these business electricity houses all struggle with the same nagging issue – recruiting and retaining skilled nurses – and the reason why they repeat the exact disastrous mistakes. I recently found the answer to my question during a seminar by LeAnn Thieman, author of the best seller”Chicken Soup for the Nurse’s Soul,” through the Texas Organization of Nurse Executives Annual Conference.
The presentation inspired me to write”7 most frequent nurse retention errors,” bringing together inspirations from the many specialists I’ve met, including Thieman. I hope this simple, but meaningful guide helps organizations find practical answers to the real difficulty of hiring and retaining quality nurses.
1. Inadequate staffing levels
Regardless of the reason, the result is the same if there’s a prolonged period of inadequate nurse staffing levels. As present staff members consume the work load, stress increases and job satisfaction declines, resulting in greater turnover. And so the cycle continues. We’ve been contacted by physicians that have attempted for years to keep proper nurse-to-patient ratios, but despite their efforts, the problem worsened. They are frustrated; nurses are unhappy, and individual satisfaction suffers, together with patient safety.
With all its complexities and constant change, today’s healthcare environment demands a new approach. One focused on a multi-faceted recruiting and retention program which begins by defining the proper nurse staffing ratios for your facility, sets recruiting and retention goals and utilizes proven short-term and long-term recruiting methods.
2. Training programs that miss the mark
Many customers find that even though they have training programs in place, results are mixed. Nurse trainees aren’t as productive or satisfied with their new positions as expected. Why? It can be because training isn’t sufficiently customized to prepare nurses for the full-range of duties and expectations which will ultimately determine success in their own organization.
What better way to learn this than from a co-worker and fellow nurse currently succeeding at work. I recommend our clients adopt a nurse preceptor program. Start by asking yourself,”Who in my business do I want more of?” Then narrow your candidate pool by deciding who has the temperament to teach. These are your preceptors. They are powerful nurses who willingly participate.
Bear in mind, a good nurse is not necessarily a fantastic trainer. We teach our nurse placements specific communication skills and learning software to prepare them for preceptor functions. Start looking for these skills in your employees or consider training for them. Then, don’t forget to adjust your preceptors’ workloads to account for their new responsibilities, so they don’t experience rapid burnout.
3. Cultural calamity
Every organization has dominant values, attitudes and beliefs that define it and guide its practices. A worker who believes in those values strengthens the business, in addition to fellow co-workers. In a high-stress, fast-paced environment where co-workers rely on a fully working team, cultural fit is crucial. So, whether you’re onboarding staff or relying on an agency to train traveling or international nurses, start looking for both a strong clinical and cultural program matched to your own organization. Ask how nurses on assignment are trained, so you know they’ll fit easily into the U.S. healthcare system and understand the requirements of American patients. Are your physicians on assignment prepared to effectively address Americans’ health concerns and expectations of their healthcare providers? Do they understand the role of relationships and empathy?
Ensuring cultural orientation to your organization will strengthen your nurse team’s performance and bolster long-term retention.
4. Lagging compensation and livelihood opportunities
Not everyone is motivated by money, but recruiting and retention issues are all but guaranteed if your nurse compensation package does not keep pace with market competitors. Bear in mind, compensation means different things to different people. So, while it’s salary, bonuses, flex schedules or time-off, be aware of what your competitors are offering and match or exceed that to make certain you don’t lose your very best nurses.
5. Strategic planning that isn’t
The best wineries are often the hardest to recruit, and even tougher to retain. You need a plan. Engage all stakeholders in developing your strategic solutions, particularly nurses on the ground. Think beyond your typical approach. Consider all options before deciding what works best for your company. Are hiring bonuses viable? Will they help build a long-term, stable nurse staff? What role will international nurses play? How will you measure the effectiveness of your plans?
6. Boomers versus Millennials
By now, most of us know that these two very different generations communicate, work and think, well… very differently. But, what exactly does that mean to your company and how have you prepared your nurse group? Developing relationships beyond our comfortable, niche groups is not natural for most adults – especially Boomers. After all, we have spent a lot of time developing particular styles and patterns, and we appreciate the ones that think the same. Without sufficient motivation, that won’t change. Boomers must look beyond”the lack of work ethic” they see in younger counterparts, and Millennials must think beyond”Boomers just resisting change.” To maximize each generation’s contribution, your organization must help facilitate the dialogue that fosters understanding and appreciation for each group’s contribution. Only then will you have a fully working, cross-generational team.
7. Overly aggressive competitors
A client located in one state complained to me that, when he thinks he is winning the nurse-shortage battle, a rival from a neighboring country stakes out in a nearby hotel, and recruits and interviews his nurses – offering hiring bonuses and better work schedules.