Regardless of how many open nursing job requisitions sit on your desk, the nursing shortage can throw a wrench into the hiring process.

Whether you are recruiting at hospitals, outpatient centers or long-care nursing facilities, it’s time to get creative with job perks that go with the offer if you want to hire top talent.

Because let’s face it. It’s an employees’ market for nurses today.

job perksThe massive nursing shortage is to blame for the competitive hiring tactics healthcare organizations use, said Blake J. Thiess, PHR, SHRM-CP, director of talent acquisition at Prestige Care in Portland, Ore.

“We’re just at the entry point to the massive nursing shortage,” Thiess said. “I foresee there will be more extreme measures taken by companies to attract and retain labor in this highly hyper competitive climate.”

A report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in Rockville, Md., analyzed supply and demand in the nursing profession from 2014 to 2030.

“Nursing is the single largest profession in the entire U.S. healthcare workforce with RNs and LPNs making up the two largest occupations in this profession,” the report stated.

Employment of registered nurses is projected to grow 15% from 2016 to 2026, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. To fill the nursing shortage, the BLS estimates projected openings for registered nurses at an average of more than 200,000 each year from 2016 to 2026.

Some of the job perks nurses desire

Find out what some organizations are willing to give and what nurses want, according to the experts.

#1 — Reputation matters

Where you work says a lot about you and can be classified among job perks.

That’s just the thing Magnet hospitals and other prestigious healthcare facilities want their nursing staff to remember instead of offering extra job perks.

“University of Kentucky doesn’t offer sign-on bonuses or housing,” said Lois Lewis, MSN, RN, nurse recruiter at University of Kentucky Health Care in Lexington. “What brings people to our medical center is that it’s a level one trauma center with excellent benefits. And it’s because of our reputation. At a level one trauma center, you get the best trained physicians, surgeons and nurses. We are the premier health system of Kentucky and we are the flagship university.”

#2 — Housekeeping

At the end of a shift, it would be nice to come home to a sparkling clean home. Most people won’t argue that point, and that’s why some job offers come with some clever value-added services or job perks.

“In the marketplace in Portland metro and the Pacific Northwest, I’ve seen companies offer housekeeping services for 12 months,” Thiess said.

#3 — Flexible scheduling

Indeed conducted a survey to assess what nurses actually want from their employers.

The 2018 survey reached 1,050 nursing job seekers in the U.S. and showed many respondents prioritize flexibility and work-life balance over salary.

#4 — Time off

When nurses take a job at University of Kentucky, they are pleasantly surprised by the generous amount of time off they receive as a perk.

“Nurses start out with three weeks of vacation time,” Lewis said. “Plus, they accrue two weeks sick time. They have to accrue it and it usually happens within about the year.”

#5 — Help paying for school

Many nurses care about expanding their knowledge and expertise through lifelong learning. If that’s the type of nurse you want to hire, consider offering tuition reimbursement or loan forgiveness among their job perks.

“We offer employee tuition assistance,” Lewis said. We pay up to six credit hours per semester. When nurses hire in with an associate degree, these RNs must get their BSN within five years of their hire date.”

Thiess said his organization is considering creating a loan forgiveness and tuition reimbursement program because they understand its value to nurses.

“Nurses, especially recent grads want help getting through school,” Thiess said. “A company will pay up to $5,250 per year in loan forgiveness, and the tax burden is not on the receiver.”

#6 — Flashy ride

Job perks can go beyond education and flexibility. One hospital in Kentucky went as far as offering a Ford Mustang, Lewis said.

But why the Mustang? The muscle car demographic apparently stretches beyond the typical “young male.” Based on Ford sales, the automaker reports the Mustang attracts millennials and Hispanic Americans. Plus, it draws an international presence.

This exemplifies a hospital identifying a brand with a group of people they want to attract and hire.

But here’s a simple way to find out what a nurse wants. Just ask them.

“One way to stand out and attract nurses, ask a nurse, ‘what do you want?’” Thiess said. “I am committed to up to $20,000, do you want $5,000 every six months, or loan forgiveness or childcare?”