11 Nurse Retention Strategies To Help You Keep Top Talent

Nurses are a critical part of the healthcare industry, and retaining top talent is essential for hospitals and clinics. However, nurse retention can be tough – especially in today’s competitive job market. Here are 11 nurse retention strategies that have been shown to be effective. Implementing these tips will help you create a more stable and productive workforce.

Why Nurse Retention Matters

Nurse turnover is costly. It affects not only the financial health of the healthcare company, but also patient care quality. High turnover rates can result in errors, higher morbidity, and higher mortality rates. Nurse retention strategies can prevent unnecessary turnover, providing more stable patient care and reducing costs associated with recruitment and training.

The average cost of nurse turnover is $40,038, ranging from $28,400 to $51,700. This translates to huge losses for the hospital, amounting to $3.6 million to $6.5 million per year. Each change in the percentage of nurse turnover either costs or saves the hospital around $270,000 a year. 

Nurse Turnover Statistics

The average nurse has stayed at their job for about three years and 17.5% of new nurses often leave their first job in under a year. These numbers are problematic in the nursing profession, which already faces recruitment challenges. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates 194,500 openings for nurses every year over the next decade, mostly due to the need to replace professionals who either shift occupations or exit the workforce.

With these predictions, it is more important now than ever for employers to implement sustainable strategies for nurse retention.

Common Reasons For Nurse Turnover

There are many reasons why nurses, physicians, and other healthcare professionals leave their jobs. Some of the most common include:

  • poor compensation
  • lack of work/life balance
  • unsupportive management
  • difficult work environment
  • difficult co-workers

No matter the reason, it’s vital to provide a supportive work environment. If you are able to address these needs, your nurses and physicians will be more likely to stay with the practice for longer periods of time.

11 Proven Strategies For Nurse Retention

There are several strategies that can be used to help retain nurses in the workplace. Here are some efforts that have been proven to work:

1. Build positive nurse-manager relationships.

Nurse turnover can be reduced drastically with good management. An effective strategy is to foster a relationship with each nurse and their respective manager. This will help nurses feel more supported and less likely to quit, even if they’re having difficulties at work. One way of doing this is by encouraging supervisor feedback and allowing open communication between the two parties.

2. Offer competitive pay.

Offering competitive pay is often an effective strategy for keeping employees in their positions, especially when the job market is tight. It’s estimated that around half of all healthcare employment decisions are made based on pay. This is why it’s important to do your research and see what other companies in your area are offering. 

The median pay for registered nurses in the U.S. is $75,330 per year, ranging from a low of $53,410 to a high of $116,230. 

Nurses that work in hospitals and care facilities are paid more, but they typically work in shifts and sometimes provide round-the-clock coverage and hyperextended hours. They are also usually on-call. Meanwhile, nurses who work in schools, offices, and similar settings are paid less because they do not need to provide 24-hour care and are likely to be working only during business hours. 

3. Offer competitive benefits.

Along with offering competitive pay, it’s effective for healthcare organizations to offer as much as possible as far as benefits go. According to Hays, 81% of employees cited that they would leave their jobs for the right offer. Providing good benefits can be expensive, but it will help you retain nurses who are looking for stability in their work life.

4. Enhance nursing orientation programs.

Effective nurse orientation programs are essential for recruiting new nurses and retaining existing ones. Orientation helps establish an inclusive community atmosphere in the workplace, which is essential when encouraging employees to feel comfortable with one another. 

This sense of community will help to reduce isolation amongst nurses, which has shown to be one of the top reasons why employees are unhappy in their jobs. As you’re establishing this sense of camaraderie, remember that it’s still important to maintain independence between them and their managers.

5. Implement a culture of openness and feedback.

Culture is important when implementing strategies for nurse retention, as it will help employees feel included and more likely to trust those around them. One way to increase this trust is by having an open communication policy that encourages feedback from nurses about their job experiences.

Open communication can be especially important when there are problems within the workplace. To alleviate feelings of stress and isolation, it’s best if nurses feel as though they have a voice in the practice.

6. Ensure opportunity for advancement.

By ensuring that your nurses have opportunities for advancement, you are increasing their sense of personal investment in the organization. If nurses are interested in making career moves within your organization, ensure that they have multiple avenues of advancement. If you have multiple nurse educators, for instance, making a job opening available will keep them more likely to invest in the organization and encourage them to stay .

7. Enhance retention from the very start.

In order to get new hires off on the right foot, you must enhance their experience before they even join your organization. In some cases, nurses may be considering leaving their positions before they even begin working there if they get a bad first impression of where they’ll be working. 

Make sure potential nurses know what it’s like to work in your facilities by scheduling interviews with current employees or having a representative of the company provide a tour during orientation week.

8. Ensure a diverse workforce.

With a strong sense of community, nurses will have a greater chance at being happier in their jobs. One way to create this atmosphere is by ensuring that it is diverse and inclusive for everyone who works there. According to the National Center For Transgender Equality, one in four transgender individuals surveyed said they were not hired for a job or lost it because of their gender identity. By making sure your workforce embraces diversity on all levels, you are more likely to retain top tier talent.

9. Offer opportunities to give back.

It’s important that employees feel like they’re part of something bigger than themselves when they work in healthcare organizations. This can be increased by offering opportunities for employees to give back and help others through their work. By incorporating this into your nurse retention strategies, you are increasing the sense of connection that nurses have with your organization.

10. Reward top performers.

Nurses who feel rewarded for their good work will be more likely to stay in their jobs. Creating compensation structures for high-performers can help generate a sense of loyalty towards your organization, which will lead to lower turnover. For long-term success, keep the salary increases based on merit rather than on seniority or tenure.

11. Address difficult situations head on.

There are many times when nurses may experience difficulty in the workplace due to stress or conflict with colleagues or clients. When addressing these situations, it is important to address them head on in order to promote open communication. By creating an environment where nurses feel comfortable sharing their feelings, you are decreasing the likelihood that they will become disgruntled and seek employment elsewhere.

Nurse Retention Begins With Strategic Recruitment

The recruitment process plays a critical role in placing the best talents in the right roles. Strelcheck Healthcare Search follows a thorough nine-step process that ensures skill and culture fit, to prevent high nurse turnover rates later on. The same strategy is applied even to physicians and other healthcare professionals and executives that go through our recruitment process.

Contact Strelcheck Healthcare Search today to learn more about our unique recruitment strategy and how this can help your company keep healthcare staff on for much longer.