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Using Data To Improve Nurse Recruitment and Retention

The nursing shortage and high turnover rates are costly to healthcare organizations. This poses complex challenges that also impact the patient experience and, ultimately, patient safety. Healthcare systems can benefit from new data and insights directly from nurses on the frontlines. These insights can be leveraged to improve your organization’s nurse recruitment and retention strategies.

The 2022 Nurse Salary Research Report: Trends and Insights for Leaders and Recruiters from Nurse.com noted that the nurse turnover rate reached 22% in 2021. And the national hospital turnover rate for all employees increased from 19.5% to 25.9% in 2021, the highest reported to date, according to an NSI Nursing Solutions report. Nurse staffing challenges have reached crisis levels, with the staff RN vacancy rate increasing from 9.9% to 17%, and a staggering 81.3% of hospitals reporting an overall vacancy rate higher than 10%.

The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated an already pressing labor shortage for healthcare organizations, bringing with it additional reasons for employees to leave their organizations or healthcare altogether.

Healthcare systems’ strategic priorities should include a focus on recruitment and retention. Recruiting and retaining nurses is imperative for hospitals to ensure high quality team members are committed and intend to remain with an organization. A clear focus on retention can result in adequate staffing levels and ensure continuity of care is maintained for safe patient outcomes. This further enhances the ability of the organization to expand, grow, and improve overall organization outcomes.

Insights To Inform Nurse Recruitment and Retention Efforts

The 2022 Nurse Salary Research Report contains insights from over 2,500 RNs, APRNs, and LPNs/LVNs from regions across the U.S. with data related to repercussions from the pandemic and trends related to nurses’ views of their jobs and satisfaction in their roles. In addition to nurse salaries, the report provides insights on nurses’ plans to change roles or settings, ideal benefits, and differences among demographics.

Leaders and recruiters who understand what motivates nurses to stay will have an advantage in recruiting nurses, increasing job satisfaction, and growing nurse leaders. The report shares insights about how additional education or certification might impact nursing career development and prospects.

Healthcare leaders and recruiters can review the report’s data to see how your organization’s salaries and benefits compare for similar education levels and job titles. The Nurse.com survey data can guide you in deciding whether you might need to alter your organization’s compensation to remain competitive in the market. As nurses field offers for a new position, they’re thinking strategically about the quality of the offer.

This year, the report included a number of questions about how the pandemic has affected nursing careers. The results can help you better understand the impact that this crisis is having on the nursing profession and the repercussions on nurse hiring and retention. Nurses’ emotional health, which has risen in visibility during the pandemic, can be considered a main factor for job satisfaction.

Low job satisfaction can lead to burnout, stress, turnover, and more. The salary report explored job satisfaction and how nurse participants ranked areas that were most important to them. The elements ranked most important among all nurses were consistent raises, the ability to utilize the full scope of their nursing practice, and their managers. If their work environment lacks support in these areas, nurses may look for other employment, change employers or leave the profession altogether.

The Cost of Overlooking Nurse Recruitment and Retention

On average, it takes three months to recruit a qualified nurse to fill a vacancy. The retention crisis has forced healthcare organizations to pay a premium for travel nurses, overtime, and critical staffing. The average cost of replacing a staff nurse is estimated at $46,100, resulting in an average hospital losing between $5.2M and $9M per year.

The cost of recruitment and retention is considerable; therefore, investment in meaningful measures is needed to address this critical need. The nursing shortage is projected to continue well beyond 2030, and developing strategic work plans with a short-term and long-term lens would highly beneficial.

Many variables affect why nurses leave an organization. In the 2022 Salary Report, the top reasons our sample nurse population identified were:

  1. Dissatisfaction with management
  2. Better pay elsewhere
  3. Lower mental health risk
  4. More flexible hours
  5. Lower physical health risk
  6. Better benefits

Addressing Nurse Recruitment and Retention Together

Hospitals and healthcare organizations must find ways to keep the employees they have as recruiters find right-fit employees to fill openings. While one effort should not exist without the other, both are extremely complex challenges, and finding enough time and the right resources can be daunting. Understanding what matters most to nurses is key to ensuring your efforts are well-informed and keep you on the right track.

High turnover rates cause disruptions in delivering safe, consistent, quality care, and are extremely costly to healthcare organizations. Struggling with this reality, hospitals and recruiters need valuable data and insights to build and retain a stronger nurse workforce.

Healthcare leaders, recruiters, and hiring managers can gain insights from the survey results 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.

Download the report here.