The 7 Most Common Nurse Retention Mistakes

I’ve met many of today’s most influential nursing leaders, HR professionals, and healthcare executives, and I’ve spoken to hundreds, perhaps thousands, of industry experts.

I have often wondered why these industry powerhouses wrestle with the same persistent problem—recruiting and retaining qualified nurses—and why they repeat the same disastrous mistakes. I recently discovered the answer to my question during a seminar by LeAnn Thieman, bestselling author of “Chicken Soup for the Soul of a Nurse,” at the Texas Nurse Executive Organization Annual Conference.

The presentation inspired me to write “7 Most Common Nurse Retention Mistakes,” gathering inspirations from many experts I’ve met, including Thieman. I hope this simple yet meaningful guide will help organizations find practical solutions to the real problem of recruiting and retaining quality nurses.

How many of the 7 most common mistakes can you recognize in your organization?

1. Inadequate staffing levels
Today, many hospitals struggle to find and retain nurses. The reasons are many: Staff cuts in the 1990s used to offset rising health care costs, a shortage of nurse educators at universities, and perhaps even less interest in the profession among Millennials. Regardless of the cause, the result is the same as long as there is a prolonged period of inadequate nursing staffing levels. As staff members absorb the workload, stress increases and job satisfaction decreases, leading to higher turnover. And so the cycle continues. We have been contacted by hospitals that have tried for years to maintain adequate nurse to patient ratios, but despite their best efforts, the problem has gotten worse. They are frustrated; nurses are unhappy and patient satisfaction suffers, along with patient safety.

With all its complexities and constant changes, today’s healthcare environment requires a new approach. One focused on a multi-faceted recruitment and retention plan that begins by defining the right nurse staffing ratios for your facility, sets recruitment and retention goals, and uses proven short- and long-term recruitment methods.

2. Training programs that miss the mark
Many clients find that even though they have training programs, the results are mixed. Trainee nurses are not as productive or satisfied with their new positions as expected. Why? It may be because the training is not personalized enough to prepare nurses for the full range of duties and expectations that will ultimately determine success in your organization.

What better way to learn this than from a co-worker and fellow nurse who is currently successful on the job. I recommend our clients adopt a nurse preceptor program. Start by asking yourself, “Who in my organization do I want more of?” Then narrow down your pool of candidates by determining who has the temperament to teach. These are your teachers. They are strong nurses who willingly participate.

Keep in mind that a good nurse is not necessarily a good educator. We teach all of our nursing placements specific communication skills and learning applications to prepare them for preceptor roles. Look for these skills in your employees or consider training 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, beliefs and attitudes that define it and guide its practices. A worker who believes in those values ​​strengthens the organization, as well as co-workers. However, someone who is not in tune with the company culture will bring down the morale and inhibit the effectiveness of your nursing team. In a high-stress, fast-paced environment where co-workers depend on a fully functioning team, cultural fit is crucial. So, whether you’re recruiting or relying on an agency to train international or mobile nurses, look for a strong clinical and cultural program that matches your organization. Ask how assigned nurses are trained, so you know they will fit seamlessly into the US health care system and understand the needs of American patients. Are your assigned nurses prepared to effectively address the health concerns of Americans and the expectations of their healthcare providers? Do they understand the role of relationships and empathy?

Ensuring cultural alignment with your organization will strengthen the performance of your nursing team and bolster long-term retention.

4. Lag Compensation and Career Opportunities
Not everyone is motivated by money, but hiring and retention issues are virtually guaranteed if your nurse compensation package doesn’t keep up with market competitors. Keep in mind that compensation means different things to different people. So whether it’s salary, bonuses, flexible hours, or time off, learn what your competitors are offering and match or beat that to ensure you don’t lose your best nurses.

5. Strategic planning that is not
The best nurses are often the hardest to hire and even harder to retain. You need a plan. Involve all stakeholders in developing your strategic solutions, especially the nurses on the floor. Think beyond your standard approach. Consider all the options before deciding what works best for your organization. Are recruitment bonuses viable? Will they help build a long-term stable nursing team? What role will international nurses play? How will you measure the effectiveness of your strategies?

6. Boomers vs. Millennials
By now, we all know that these two very different generations communicate, work and think, well… very differently. But what does that mean for your organization, and how have you prepared your nursing team? Developing relationships outside of our comfortable niche groups doesn’t come naturally to most adults, especially Boomers. After all, we’ve spent a lot of time developing certain styles and patterns, and we appreciate those who think the same. Without enough motivation, that won’t change. Boomers need to look beyond the “lack of work ethic” they see in their younger counterparts, and millennials need to think beyond “boomers who just resist change.” To maximize the contribution of each generation, your organization must help facilitate dialogue that fosters understanding and appreciation of each group’s contribution. Only then will you have a fully functioning intergenerational team.

7. Overly aggressive competitors
A client located in one state complained that just when it thinks it is winning the battle of nursing shortages, a competitor from a neighboring state sets up shop at a nearby hotel and recruits and interviews its nurses, offering them hiring bonuses and better jobs. work schedules. My answer to that is to refer to points 1-6 above.

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