There’s no doubt that the COVID-19 pandemic effects are far-reaching. And one could argue that its biggest impacts were on the healthcare industry. The future of nursing will certainly continue to be impacted by the pandemic, as many nurse leaders question how COVID-19 will continue to influence nurse recruitment.
For many years, there have been concerns about work/life balance, compensation, and workplace safety. Nurses have found a new voice surrounding these issues during the pandemic. In 2020, when there was much uncertainty surrounding the virus, nurses were at the front line, taking care of patients as they always have. Historically, many nurses have kept quiet about their concerns, but are now being vocal about what they want.
Being aware of the current trends in nursing recruitment gives you an edge in recruiting and retaining top talent.
The pandemic has taught us that nurses are looking for a better work/life balance. Burnout is something that has affected many nurses for years, but has been exacerbated by the pandemic. Nurses are now realizing the toll this has taken on their mental and physical health.
Having time away from work can be an important step to reducing burnout. Nurses may now be setting boundaries that weren’t there before, such as not answering calls or responding to texts from work when they are at home and may not be willing to pick up extra shifts that need to be staffed. Supporting nurses’ decisions and respecting their time off is something that needs to be honored.
Additionally, offering flexible scheduling to allow nurses adequate time off between their shifts or the ability to maximize the amount of time between shifts can be a desirable benefit to a nurse looking for a job.
Healthcare systems spent significant amounts of money on travel nurses during the pandemic. Although this amount is likely unsustainable, it has brought to light the question of nursing compensation and benefits.
Investing a fair and generous amount into nursing staff will not only help recruit great nurses, it can also help retain them. When nurses realize that they have more monetary value as a travel nurse than as a permanent employee, it can be a big deterrent. This has been a growing topic within COVID-19 nurse recruitment.
Safety in the Workplace
Workplace safety has been an ongoing issue for nurses for many years, which was highlighted during this pandemic. Safe staffing ratios have been one of the biggest concerns. Although this is an issue that may not have an easy fix — especially in light of a current nursing shortage — it needs to be addressed.
One article even hypothesizes that there isn’t really a shortage of nurses, there is a shortage of hospitals willing to provide a safe working environment that nurses are looking for.
If a healthcare system is taking action to improve staffing ratios and safety in the workplace, nurses will notice. They will want to work where they feel safe in reporting concerns or mistakes, knowing they have the support of their administration.
In addition, training nurses adequately and providing them with enough time and support to feel comfortable in their roles can be appealing. New nurses may be apprehensive about taking a job in a place where they don’t feel supported or aren’t provided an adequate amount of training.
Another way to recruit good nurses is to provide opportunities for growth and continued learning. The role a nurse is originally hired into may not be the role they want to stay in forever. That’s one of the great things about this profession — the ability to be a lifelong learner and continue to develop skills. The pandemic has made some nurses realize that they don’t want to work at the bedside forever and want to utilize their skills in other ways.
Healthcare systems should recognize each nurse’s talent and do their best to help recruit and retain nurses. Supporting nurses and not penalizing them for continuing their skills and growth can be a potential missed opportunity for a healthcare system.
A system that fosters a supportive culture of education can elevate nurses to help them advance their careers and continue to retain an invaluable employee.
COVID-19 and Nurse Recruitment
A global pandemic and the many associated complications can make it difficult enough to recruit nurses. Add to that a significant nursing shortage, and it may seem impossible to ever fully staff a healthcare system. Keeping up to date with what nurses need and want can be key to recruiting and retaining a high-quality nursing workforce.
Although the pandemic has caused many difficulties, it has also allowed people to truly understand what is important to them and how their work fits in to that.
Healthcare leaders, recruiters, and hiring managers can gain insights from the 2022 Nurse Salary Research Report: For Leaders and Recruiters that can inform your efforts to hire and retain nurses. By understanding what trends are occurring in nurses’ opinions of their roles and their salaries, you can develop strategies that help them feel supported, appreciated, and engaged with your organization.