How To Improve Nurse Retention (Definition and Tips)

Its not uncommon as a nurse to have thoughts about leaving the nursing profession. Many nurses face short staffing, long hours, and a lack of support from the administration. From February 2020 to September 2021, 18% of healthcare workers quit their jobs. Additionally, 12% have been laid off and 19% thought about leaving their job.

What Is Nurse Retention? Every industry benefits from high employee retention. This term references the ability to keep the most skilled professionals on staff, rather than losing them to competing employers.

How Emory Healthcare’s Chief Nurse Executive Improves Nurse Retention and Resilience

Why is nurse retention important?

There are several reasons retention is an important part of a successful workplace. In healthcare professions such as nursing, retention may be important in ensuring the success of a hospital or facility by:

Reducing costs

Filling open positions can be a costly and time-consuming endeavor. Hospitals and healthcare facilities may spend important time and resources advertising open positions, recruiting candidates, reviewing applications and conducting interviews. The lower the retention rate, the more frequently your HR department may need to employ these efforts. Improving nurse retention may help you save valuable resources by reducing your hospitals need to recruit new members of the nursing staff.

Maximizing length of employment

Improving nurse retention may help you maximize the length of your nurses employment. Long-term relationships with your nurses can often foster beneficial workplace dynamics, improved collaboration and promote a positive workplace culture. Long-term relationships with your nursing staff may also help you communicate more effectively and improve the success of your interactions.

Promoting consistent practices

In order for practices to remain consistent, its important that members of the nursing staff remain employed long enough to develop standard procedures and educate new nurses on their methods. If nurse retention is poor, the chances of a nursing staff developing these standards may decrease. Standardized practices with consistent techniques and care protocols are an important part of providing optimal treatment to patients, improving ease of communication and aligning expectations within your organization. Improved nurse retention may help to ensure consistency of healthcare protocols.

Boosting staff morale

When members of your nursing staff have the opportunity to form positive, fulfilling relationships, it may contribute to their morale in the workplace. Nursing can sometimes be a stressful and high-pressure career, so fostering supportive relationships within your nursing staff is an important part of ensuring their well-being at work. Improved nurse retention may allow these important relationships to develop and could contribute to the happiness and success of your nursing team.

What is retention?

Retention refers to an organizations ability to keep members of its staff employed. You may consider the number of employees who resign or voluntarily leave their positions within a set amount of time to evaluate the level of retention within an organization. There are many factors that may contribute to an organizations retention rate, such as salary, benefits, workload, stress levels, leadership styles and company culture. A high retention rate, or low employee turn-over rate, is often a sign of a successful, positive and cohesive organization.

How to improve nurse retention

There are several techniques to improve nurse retention you may consider as a hospital manager or administrator. Consider following these eight tips to improve nurse retention at your hospital or healthcare facility:

1. Address workload issues

An effective way to improve nurse retention is to proactively address workload issues within your organization. There are several ways you can address an overwhelming workload. You may implement strategies and updates into your practices that could help to assist your nurses efficiently complete their tasks, including:

2. Provide training and development

Often, nursing professionals may seek continued training and development opportunities in order to advance their careers. Consider providing developmental training programs such as workshops and seminars to offer opportunities for career growth to your nursing staff. Another great way to encourage continued education is to offer tuition reimbursement to your employees who wish to go back to school.

You may also consider speaking with each of your nurses on a recurring basis to discuss their career goals and training objectives. This may help you successfully match them with educational resources that best fit their needs and the investment you show in their success could boost employee satisfaction and improve nurse retention.

3. Allow autonomy

Experienced nurses often have defined methods of completing their tasks and attending to patients that they have developed over years of working in healthcare. As a nursing manager or hospital administrator, do your best to avoid micromanaging or creating overly strict policies. Allowing your nursing staff to operate with a level of autonomy may help them feel as if you value their experience and trust their skills as a healthcare professional. This level of trust and respect may help to foster a positive relationship between you and your nursing staff and could improve nurse retention.

4. Ensure fair pay and benefits

Nurses who feel under-compensated may be more likely to seek alternative employment. In order to ensure your nurses feel fairly compensated for their efforts, be sure to offer reasonable pay and inclusive benefits. To do this, you might research other hospitals and facilities in your area to determine the average salary of various nursing positions. Try to at least match these salaries and offer basic benefits such as health insurance, dental insurance, flexible schedules and 401k programs. You may also offer additional benefits like:

5. Provide wellness resources

In order to promote the mental health and emotional well-being of your nursing staff, consider providing access to wellness resources. This may include free or discounted counseling sessions, a directory of therapy professionals, training in meditation and relaxation techniques or a break policy that allows for several brief respites from the workday. This may help to prevent burnout, improve employee satisfaction and improve nurse retention. By ensuring your nurses take care of their mental and emotional health, they may also be more likely to provide optimal care to their patients.

6. Recognize your staff

To improve nurse retention, its important to recognize the achievements of your nursing staff. To do this, you may offer staff appreciation events, offer public praise through staff recognition programs or conduct performance reviews in which you congratulate your nurses for their accomplishments. Often, employees that feel valued and appreciated are more likely to be satisfied in their place of employment. Acknowledging the excellence of your staff could be an effective way to improve nurse retention.

7. Collect employee feedback

Taking your nursing staffs feedback into serious consideration is a great way to improve nurse retention. Consider asking for regular feedback from your nurses through anonymous surveys, meetings and discussions to understand their wants and needs in the workplace. Actively seeking their feedback is a powerful way to ensure your staff that you value their opinions and care about their happiness and success. Its also a great way to better understand the ways in which you can help your nurses access the information, tools and resources necessary to successfully perform their duties.

8. Improve leadership interactions

A positive relationship between leadership and nursing staff is often a key component to improving nurse retention. Its important to take the time and make the effort necessary to foster successful relationships with your nurses. You may do this in the following ways:

FAQ

What is retention in nursing?

Specifically, nurse retention is defined as “keeping nurses in their jobs” (Dotson et al., 2014) or “the extent to which nurses stay in their present job” (Ellenbecker, Porell, Samia, Byleckie, & Milburn, 2008).

How do nurses maintain retention?

How to retain nurses
  1. Be strategic during the hiring process. …
  2. Create a recognition program. …
  3. Develop the right company culture. …
  4. Allow for peer interviews. …
  5. Listen to feedback. …
  6. Encourage professional development. …
  7. Provide adequate resources. …
  8. Create collaboration opportunities.

What is the retention rate for nurses?

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%.

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