How Your Healthcare Organization Can Attract & Retain Top Nursing Staff

Your frontline caregivers set the tone for your healthcare organization. They are the face forward brand and skilled, compassionate nursing staff that strengthens your healthcare organization’s reputation. Excellence in patient care sets the standard for your facility time and time again.

When your organization strives to develop a nursing staff recruitment plan you can’t simply focus on attracting the right professionals. You need to back up recruiting your exceptional nurses with a plan for retaining them as well. According to a recent survey by the publication Becker’s Hospital Review, 85% of the nurses they interviewed indicated they plan to leave their current hospital setting within the coming year.

The exact number of nurses who leave their job for reasons related to the healthcare organization’s performance isn’t always easy to pinpoint. But everyone realizes the shortage of staff created by the nurses who go on to other jobs impacts patient care to the extreme. And, much like dominoes, the negative impact of short-staffing ripples through the rest of the staff and soon you’re losing qualified and expert nurses left and right.

So the question is not only how do you attract top nursing staff but how can you ensure they stay? Here we offer some of the best ways to recruit and retain the best nurses out there, for your organization and most of all to provide dedicated care your patients and their families will recognize.

7 Ways to Attract Top Nursing Staff

One of the more bitter consequences of the covid-19 pandemic is the toll taken on medical professionals at the front lines-specifically nurses. The burnout these nurses feel is why up to 66% of critical care nurses consider leaving the profession altogether. Add to that the anticipation of one of the largest populations of aging seniors expected in the coming years and the country faces a very serious nursing shortage.

Currently there really aren’t enough nurses to go around but as a forward thinking healthcare organization its imperative that you recruit as many top quality nurses as possible. Fortunately attracting and retaining nursing staff goes hand-in-hand. Just as dissatisfaction starts a ripple effect and nurses leave the organization en masse, job satisfaction means more nursing staff clamoring to work for you. Here are our top strategies for effectively attracting high quality nursing staff.

1. Engage Through Creative Advertising

Where are you advertising? It’s not enough to reach out via nursing publications or email campaigns. Consider sponsoring career events, conferences and continuing education programs. Purchase advertising space online and in print in specific nursing medical journals. Don’t neglect professional sites for specific specialties such as critical care, oncology, pediatrics, gerontology and the like.

2. Go Social

Don’t neglect the power of social media when trying to create a buzz. You can pique the interest of many a good nurse via LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram. Add a careers page to your organization’s site and post video testimonials from your happy healthcare workers.

3. Create a Relatable Brand

Personalize your advertising and communication. A generic script is ineffective when you’re intentionally trying to entice the best candidates. The most effective communication promotes a personalized experience and authentic communication. Speak to their experience, noting how your organization benefits them where they are and provides opportunities for growth as they desire.

4. Offer Flexibility in Scheduling

Nursing shifts are long as it is but when a healthcare organization experiences staff shortages those shifts can extend for hours to cover care. That isn’t good for patients and is the fast lane to burnout for nurses. Embrace the flex-schedule and let it be known that your organization offers flexible schedules. Compensate those who work extra hours with time off. If your healthcare organization has multiple facilities, offer the option to choose shifts at different locations. Sometimes a change of scenery is a pleasant option when you work long hours.

5. Promote Work-Life Balance

After the pandemic burnout across healthcare it became even more evident balancing career and life outside of the workplace is essential to physical and emotional wellbeing. If you really want to attract the best then show them that you value your staff. Equip nurses with the tools they need and also the self care opportunities that keep them strong. Do you offer support staff  to help nurses deal with the high emotions of the job? Maybe a day of self-care? Get creative with the ways your organization helps your staff perform their jobs by protecting their wellbeing.

6. Create Nurse Ambassadors

Someone who actually walks the walk and can talk the talk is your best recruitment tool. Take a look at your stuff and decide who the best nurses are that truly create the culture of your organization. Make them the “face” of your brand and allow them to voice their positive views through your content. Have your nurse ambassadors describe a typical shift. Allow them to address FAQs on your website career recruitment page. Creating an emotional connection between peers helps reach potential nursing staff at a deeper level.

7. Make Sure You Compensate Accordingly and Competitively

Finally, nursing is a very competitive market right now for healthcare organizations. It’s imperative that you offer a competitive compensation plan and comprehensive benefits package. Two of the most attractive factors in compensating nurses beyond salary? Tuition reimbursement and student loan repayment programs.

11 Strategies to Retain Your Top Nursing Staff

Now that you’ve attracted top notch nurses to your healthcare organization let’s talk about how you can keep them from jumping ship. It’s impossible to understand all of the reasons nurses leave their employment. Some are deeply personal and there’s nothing much you, as a healthcare organization, can do. But there are often factors that the higher-ups take for granted and these are the things you can change. By understanding those reasons good nurses leave for that greener grass, healthcare organization leaders and administrators can stem the flow and devise effective nurse retention strategies to significantly reduce turnover.

For any organization, healthcare or otherwise, staff retention rates are the best barometer of job satisfaction, employee morale and camaraderie. Because the healthcare industry has an urgent need for good caregivers, nursing retention is more important than ever. Here we offer some proven ways you can retain your top nursing staff and reduce turnover rates in your healthcare organization.

1. Recognize Compassion Fatigue and Burnout Before it’s Too Late

The leading cause of nursing staff turnover is burnout. Frustration over working conditions, patient load and short staffing turns otherwise exemplary, dedicated, caring professionals into frustrated, apathetic and unfocused employees. Compassion fatigue is real and recognizing burnout is an important part of preventing your staff from jumping ship.

Nursing is an emotionally draining and mentally taxing job. Administrators need to engage with staff in order to proactively prevent them from becoming burned out. Recognition, rewards, paid time off, clear opportunities to advance and an employee wellness program go a long way in making your nursing staff feel seen and respected for the job they do.

2. Communicate Clear Expectations

When you interview potential nursing staff be sure you are transparent when it comes to things like schedule requirements, patient population and employee’s responsibilities. Let your potential new hire know what challenges they may face in the job. Set realistic expectations. Nursing is a tough job at best. Situations that arise and weren’t made clear before hiring like pay structure, raises, scheduling and so forth may create feelings of mistrust which deflate morale and cause staff to leave.

3. Offer Opportunities for Continuing Education

An employer who offers ways for staff to improve and grow in skills and performance through continuing education shows their employees they’re invested for the long haul. And those employees in turn feel empowered and respected which helps avoid burnout.

4. Provide Growth Opportunities

Providing a clear path for advancement provides your nursing staff with a plan for a forward trajectory. They avoid becoming bored in their career and are less likely to seek a change outside of your healthcare organization. Help your staff set goals that are meaningful. Create shared leadership positions, give your more experienced and seasoned nurses more responsibility and keep them excited about their work. They are making a difference. Recognize it!

5. Provide Mentors

One of the most difficult things about onboarding in any job is the feeling of not knowing the culture and where you fit in. For nurses this is especially true. Nursing is a fast-paced job and you hit the ground running on most days. But you need to know where and how to run.

In a recent study reported in an NIH publication researchers found new nurses who participated in a formal peer mentorship program had a 25% higher rate of retention than those without a mentor.

Of course the extra work for the mentor created by the peer mentorship program should be compensated. Not only does that encourage mentors but also helps your experienced staff feel appreciated.

6. Offer Competitive Pay and Bonuses

We covered compensation above but it cannot be overstated-pay your nurses well. High salaries don’t necessarily mean less opportunity for burnout but it surely helps. Beyond the salary, why not begin offering a retention bonus based on how long your staff member has been there. When you reward experienced nurses they are more likely to stay and having more experienced nurses reflects well on the overall reputation and performance of your healthcare organization.

7. Offering Benefits Benefits Your Healthcare Organization

Basic benefits are a must. Health insurance and family leave are the least you can do. But one study found that additional benefits such as retirement savings, 401(k) and health savings accounts attract a more stable employee who plans for the future. This is an employee who is more likely to stay in your employ. Other benefits that attract top nursing staff are:

  • Paid Maternity and Paternity Leave
  • Flexible Scheduling
  • {Paid Vacation 
  • Paid Personal Days
  • Mental Health and Wellness Support 
  • Counseling
  • Legal Benefits
  • Tuition Reimbursement
  • Tax and Financial Services

8. Avoid Short Staffing

When your organization is short-staffed it impacts everyone. Nurses are overworked and may lose focus, not having enough nurses for the number of patients creates a risk, the overwhelm contributes to burnout which creates a vicious cycle of staff shortages. So what can you do?

Consider filling the gap with agency nurses. These skilled professionals are able to shore up any staff shortages temporarily while you work to fill the open positions. Your staff feels supported and safe. Offer incentives for those who take extra shifts but don’t push too hard. You certainly don’t want to add to the burnout or the shortages.

9. Don’t Neglect Breaks

Nurses understand an influx of patients and a busy shift mean break ties are cut somewhat. But, cutting breaks needs to be the exception and not the rule. A nurse working a 12 hour shift is entitled to a minimum of a meal break and two breaks to rest and revive. When you go above and beyond its a small investment in preventing nurse burnout.

10. Bullying Should Never be Allowed

As with any job environment healthcare organizations fall victim to workplace bullying. More often than not bullying and intimidation, when not properly dealt with by supervisors and administrators, leads to turnover. You must have a clear zero-tolerance policy for bullying and intimidation. But, more importantly you must see that policy is enforced. Make anti-bullying courses part of your onboarding and require refreshers throughout the year. This is especially important for supervisory staff.

11. Ask for Feedback

Feedback from your staff provides a great opportunity to see the shortcomings and be able to address areas of concern. It takes a special kind off finesse to encourage feedback. Never allow your nursing staff to feel as though a critique or complaint will lead to issues at work. Keep all feedback confidential and avoid appearing defensive. The insights you gain are very valuable. 

Take exit interviews very seriously. An employee who is out the door has no reason to hold back. This way you identify any need for improvement in areas that you may not have recognized otherwise.

Get Rid of The Obstacles In Your Way and Attract and Retain The Best

Attracting and retaining top nursing staff is incredibly difficult in the current environment. At BOS Medical Staffing we understand the challenges you face and can help you overcome the obstacles that prevent your healthcare organization from attracting and retaining dedicated, caring and loyal professionals. To find out how, contact BOS Medical Staffing today.

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