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Strengthening Nurse Retention Strategies: Building a Culture of Engagement and Support

July 31, 2023 Posted by Remede in Blog
Nurses putting hands in a circle

Nurse retention is a major challenge for healthcare organizations today, creating a domino effect of issues beyond employment. From ensuring top-notch patient care to minimizing costs and fostering a positive work environment for healthcare professionals, it’s crucial to keep talented nurses on board. 

The impact of nurse turnover extends beyond the disruption of care continuity—it also places a significant financial burden on healthcare institutions. Research shows that nurse turnover is linked to increased patient mortality rates, decreased patient satisfaction, and higher healthcare costs. To address these issues, healthcare organizations must prioritize nurse retention and implement effective strategies to tackle the underlying challenges.  

In this article, we’ll discuss the factors that contribute to nurse turnover, explore the impact of nurse retention on organizational culture and morale, and look at the key elements of building a culture of engagement and support. By focusing on these aspects, healthcare leaders like Chief Nursing Officers (CNOs) can create a work environment that fosters nurse retention and promotes the wellbeing of nurses and the patients they care for.  

What Leads to Nurse Turnover?

As of 2022, nurse turnover rate clocked in at 22.5% in the United States—a stark increase compared to 18.7% turnover before the pandemic. 

Nurses work tirelessly around the clock in a fast-paced environment to provide essential patient care, support families, and stay up to date with the latest practices. Unfortunately, this demanding nature can lead to high nurse turnover rates within organizations.  

But before you can successfully reduce turnover, you have to understand the root causes. 

Workload and Burnout

High patient acuity, heavy workloads, and long hours can lead to physical and emotional exhaustion among nurses. Like we discussed in this article, nurse burnout is a significant contributor to nurse turnover, as it negatively affects job satisfaction and overall wellbeing.   

Lack of Career Advancement Opportunities

Nurses value opportunities for professional growth and career advancement. When healthcare organizations fail to provide clear pathways for advancement and development, nurses may face “boreout” and seek opportunities elsewhere. 

Inadequate Support and Recognition

A lack of support from supervisors, limited resources, and the absence of recognition for achievements can leave nurses feeling undervalued and unappreciated. This can contribute to diminished job satisfaction and a desire to seek employment in environments that prioritize support and validation. 

Work-Life Balance Issues

Last but certainly not least in terms of contributing factors to turnover, nurses often face challenges in balancing their work responsibilities with personal and family commitments. Long shifts, irregular schedules, and high work demands can impede work-life balance and lead to increased stress and dissatisfaction. 

These are all signs and symptoms of a workplace culture that’s in need of a bit of an overhaul. There will always be aspects about any career that aren’t ideal for industry professionals (especially since healthcare truly is a 24/7/365 industry), but there are precedents healthcare leaders can do to improve employee morale and loyalty for the long haul. 

Four Tips to Improve Your Organization’s Workplace Culture for Higher Nurse Retention 

Creating a culture of engagement and support is essential for keeping nurses on board and fostering a positive work environment. So, what can CNOs like you do to create an environment that supports and retains your nursing talent while fostering engagement, job satisfaction, and long-term commitment?

1. Prioritize respect, collaboration and open communication in the workplace.

Creating a positive culture centered around these three core values in particular sets the foundation for nurse engagement and satisfaction. When nurses feel respected and heard, they are more likely to feel valued as integral members of the healthcare team. 

To do this, organizations can promote effective communication and methods of collecting regular feedback, like frequent one-on-ones with leadership, employee satisfaction surveys and Slack or Microsoft Teams, to ensure nurses’ voices are heard and their ideas are considered on a consistent basis. 

 2. Provide opportunities for professional growth and development.

Offering career advancement pathways, mentorship programs, and support for continuing education and specialty certifications demonstrates a commitment to nurses’ professional growth.  

As we discussed here, when nurses have opportunities to enhance their skills, expand their knowledge, and progress in their careers, they are more likely to feel fulfilled and motivated. Organizations can also provide platforms for knowledge sharing and collaboration among nurses, fostering a culture of continuous learning and growth.  

3. Recognize and reward nurse contributions.

A study by Aon Hewitt found that companies with a strong culture of employee appreciation saw a 31% lower turnover rate compared to businesses with weaker recognition programs. Clearly, words really do matter. Implementing recognition programs that celebrate achievements and milestones helps nurses feel valued and appreciated. The key here is giving recognition to your employees in the ways they like to be recognized. For some, this might be public shout-outs, private conversations, or a combination of both.

Organizations can also value and leverage nurses’ expertise and input by involving them in decision-making processes and seeking their feedback on improving work environments and patient care practices—further validating that their contributions and expertise are recognized and respected.  

4. Prioritize work-life balance and wellbeing.

Offering flexible scheduling options, implementing programs that promote stress management and self-care, and providing resources for physical and mental wellbeing can all be retention-boosting initiatives worth implementing. 

By having a deep understanding of the demanding nature of nursing, organizations can strive to create an environment that allows nurses to find a healthy balance between their personal and professional lives, so they have the chance to fill their cup and show up to work fully present and attentive to their patients and colleagues.   

Nurturing Success from Day One: Three Considerations Strengthening Recruitment and Onboarding Processes

While there are plenty of effective strategies you can implement to improve retention and culture as it currently stands, the strongest nurse retention strategy starts at the top—with effective recruitment and onboarding processes.   

By attracting and selecting the right candidates right off the bat and setting them up for success with a comprehensive onboarding experience, organizations can set the foundation for long-term engagement and retention. 

1. Attract the right candidates.

Developing targeted recruitment strategies is key in attracting candidates who align with the organization’s values and culture. Highlighting the organization’s mission, values, and commitment to nurse wellbeing can help attract nurses who are passionate about making a difference. Employing a multi-faceted approach that includes online job portals, social media platforms, and networking events can expand the reach and visibility of recruitment efforts. Additionally, emphasizing the organization’s commitment to diversity and inclusivity in recruitment practices can attract a more diverse group of talented candidates.

2. Create a welcoming onboarding experience.

Smooth sailing from each employee’s first day on the job goes a long way with retention. This means setting new nurses up for success with all the necessary resources from the start with a clear onboarding schedule or even a work buddy to guide them in the early days of their employment. Take it one step further and go beyond paperwork and introductions—let them dive into your organization’s culture, values, and expectations. Helping them build connections and offering ongoing support will make them feel right at home

3. Fuel continuous growth.

Your nurses are lifelong learners. Invest in their development by offering specialized training, continuing education opportunities, and easy access to professional resources. Empower them through mentorship programs and clear pathways for career progression. When you prioritize their growth, you show that you’re committed to their long-term success and overall job satisfaction.

“Okay, I Have My Recruitment and Retention Plans Ready to Go… Now What?”

The work doesn’t end with identifying your organization’s shortcomings and implementing strategies to improve them.  

To ensure the long-term success of nurse retention strategies, healthcare organizations must adopt a proactive approach by continuously assessing and improving their initiatives. This ongoing evaluation allows for the identification of trends, challenges, and areas for improvement, ultimately strengthening the retention efforts.   

For starters, data-driven decision-making plays a lead role in the assessment phase. Analyzing retention trends, such as turnover rates, reasons for departure, and patterns across different units or departments, provides valuable insights that can allow leadership to pinpoint specific areas of concern within the organization and develop targeted interventions. 

Regular employee feedback surveys and engagement assessments also serve as valuable tools for assessing the effectiveness of retention initiatives. These surveys provide an opportunity for nurses to share their experiences, concerns, and suggestions anonymously.

By actively listening to their feedback, healthcare organizations can gain a deeper understanding of the factors influencing nurse retention and make informed decisions to improve retention efforts. And don’t forget the power of going directly to the source. Engaging in regular conversations with nurses through focus groups or one-on-one meetings can provide qualitative insights and foster a culture of open communication. 

Empower Nurses, Enhance Patient Care and Transform the Healthcare Industry With Remede

Building a supportive and engaging culture is key to retaining nurses and achieving exceptional patient care. When nurses feel valued, supported, and empowered, they can deliver their best every day. As CNOs and healthcare leaders, you have the power to make a real difference.   

By implementing these strategies and partnering with Remede, you can create a positive work environment where nurses thrive and patient outcomes 5. Together, we can strengthen nurse retention, enhance the well-being of our healthcare workforce, and drive the success of your organization. 

Ready to take the next step? Contact us today to learn more about how we can support you in your journey to strengthen nurse retention and create a culture of engagement and support within your organization.