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Inside the Minds of Nurses

Nursing Survey Provides Insight Employers Should Apply to Recruiting & Retention
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What do nurses really want from their employer, and how can institutions provide for them? In most industries, turnover is costly and drains productivity. In healthcare, turnover can impact patient outcomes and a facility’s reputation. In today’s tight market, retention is a top priority, followed only slightly behind by attracting top talent to your institution. Attracting the best talent in the industry and keeping them engaged and retained is a top priority for every healthcare institution.

To understand the secret wants of nurses, Bay Alarm Medical surveyed over 100 caregivers, about half who have been in the industry for 11 years or longer. Their study, Nurse Confessions, revealed some fascinating data about the working nurse: what they want in their jobs, what’s challenging them to stay in their chosen profession, and how many are actively looking to move on.

Corie Colliton, project manager for Bay Alarm Medical, provides some insight into the data and her thoughts on why nurse retention and recruitment was a unique category in the marketplace.

“In almost every industry,” Colliton writes, “job satisfaction is directly linked to retention and turnover rates. However, nurses and doctors typically have more moving pieces at play in order to overcome a toxic work environment. It’s a high-pressure and high-stress industry to work in. It’s crucial for employees in this field to put aside personal and professional problems most of the time, because the needs of the patient always come first. That being said, it’s important to have the proper training and have the ability to swallow their pride more often than not to focus on saving lives.”

What’s challenging nurses on the job? The survey revealed some shocking statistics:

  • 66.1% of nurses felt that they had a lack of support or training
  • 53.5% reported being the victim of workplace bullying
  • 48.8% reported witnessing unethical decisions by colleagues

These revelations are eye-opening. Uncovering whether your nursing staff is experiencing these issues, and addressing them, could go a long way to improve nurse satisfaction on the job and reduce attrition.

Career choice regrets

Nurses were asked if they regretted their career choice. Of those, about 1 in 3 admitted they had at least some regrets. Even those who did not say they were unsure they made the right career choice experienced challenges on the job:

  • 7% of those with regrets reported feeling burnt out: 21.3% of all nurses agreed
  • 5% of those with regrets feel overworked and underpaid: 20.5% of all nurses agreed
  • 3% cite the physical strains of the job cause them regret: 15% of all nurses agreed
  • 1% regret the lack of professional growth opportunities: 9.4% of all nurses agreed

The survey revealed the largest group of nurses who regretted their career choice were in the field for 5 years or less, at 39.1%. This critical period may be an area where healthcare facilities can work with talent to get them past this difficult time. Once nurses hit the 6 to 10 year mark, according to the data, that number is more than cut in half at 19.6%.

Combating the nursing shortage

“The nursing shortage is a problem that’s widespread, making it important to pinpoint specific trends in terms of turnover and retention rates. These numbers,” Colliton writes, “are usually directly related to the emotional and physical strain of the job.”  They’re also pushing nurses to move to greener pastures:

  • 27.6% of all nurses surveyed are looking for new positions within their field
  • 4.7% of nurses surveyed are looking to switch fields entirely

Armed with the knowledge that more than a quarter of nurses report they’re on the lookout for a new job, facilities that are hoping to retain must do a better job to meet the needs of these critical staff members. Acknowledging and addressing some of their concerns could go a long way to reduce attrition and increase employee satisfaction. For too many facilities, however, lack of information is the barrier. Many employees will only report what caused them to leave the institution during their exit interview – too late for corrections to be made that may have retained that valuable worker.

For institutions looking to recruit, addressing some of the concerns of nurses could be a significant factor in attracting top talent. The issues that challenge a nurse in one facility could see a solution in another. Knowing what makes nurses tick, what inspires them and what frustrates could lead to better recruitment efforts as well as better retention outcomes. The first step is knowledge.

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About Riia O'Donnell

Riia O’Donnell has over 20 year’s hands-on experience in all aspects of the Human Resource function. Beginning as a recruiter, she grew to lead in all areas of HR, including employee training and development, legal compliance, benefits administration, compensation evaluation, and staff management. She has been a contributing writer for a wealth of HR, training, and small business websites for the past 7 years. Connect with Riia on Twitter at @RiiaOD.