Nursing is a challenging profession that requires a lot of time, dedication and commitment. In addition to the fast-paced environment and long hours, nurses also face hurdles such as low compensation, short staffing, potential workplace violence and hazards such as bloodborne pathogens, cold and flu germs, and injuries. It’s not surprising that 82 percent of nurses surveyed by the American Nurses Association reported that they are “at a significant level of risk for workplace stress.” Surveys of newly licensed hospital nurses reveal that 43 percent leave their jobs within three years of employment. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, we will need 16 percent more nurses by 2024.
Nurse turnover is a recurring problem for hospitals. Not only does it disrupt the organization’s flow and morale, but it’s expensive: According to the 2016 National Healthcare Retention & RN Staffing Report, the average cost of turnover for a bedside RN ranges anywhere from $37,700 to $58,400. This can result in a hospital losing between $4.9 million and $7.6 million annually. The cost of onboarding and training new nurses can be staggering, too.
Ultimately, happy nurses mean happy patients. That’s why it’s vital to promote a workplace culture that cares about the well-being and job satisfaction of nurses. To boost morale at your hospital and keep nurses on board, try these five strategies.
- Create a culture of open communication. Keep the lines of communication open between nursing leadership and nurses. Cultivate an open-door policy and communicate to your team that you’re available to discuss any problems or questions. When staff members come to you with concerns, be careful not to come across as defensive. Instead, show empathy by listening intently, acknowledging the problem, and working with the staff member to develop a solution. Don’t simply rely on email to keep staff informed of department or hospital news or developments. In-person communication is often more effective with on-the-go nurses, so hold regular team meetings and briefings. These give your nursing staff an opportunity to brainstorm ideas and discuss hot topics.
- Eliminate mandatory overtime. Twelve-hour shifts, three days a week, are the norm for most healthcare organizations. But a 2012 Health Affairs study found that nurses who routinely work shifts longer than 13 hours were more likely to experience burnout, dissatisfaction and a desire to leave the job. Don’t penalize nurses for opting not to work overtime hours, and encourage them to leave at the end of their shift. Respect their days off and vacation time—valuing their work-life balance goes a long way toward ensuring overall job satisfaction.
- Improve staffing problems. Studies show that inadequate staffing can lead to nurse burnout. Too often, nurses are assigned to multiple patients and still expected to take care of non-nursing related tasks, such as tidying rooms, finding pillows or covering the front desk. Not only does this affect nurses, but it also impacts patients. Multiple studies reveal that the nurse-to-patient ratio is related to patient satisfaction. According to a 2015 Press Ganey “Nursing Special Report, “nurse staffing influences more than patients’ perceptions of nurses and their interaction with nurses. It affects the entire patient experience.”
- Recognize strong players. Don’t wait until National Nurses Week to show how much you appreciate your nursing staff. Small gestures can make nurses feel like a vital part of the organization. Brag about a nurse’s accomplishment in the hospital’s e-newsletter or stick a Post-it note on the nurse’s locker to applaud him or her for a job well done. Bring doughnuts, bagels and coffee to a team meeting and recognize two or three nurses who have gone above and beyond the call of duty that week. And don’t forget—a simple “thank you” is always appreciated.
- Encourage ownership. Resist the urge to micromanage your nursing staff. Instead, delegate responsibilities and encourage nurses to take ownership of their work. Instilling a sense of ownership can improve the happiness and work ethic of your nurses.
At Amplion, we understand the multiple challenges nurses face every day, and we’re dedicated to making their jobs easier with our next-generation nurse call technology that helps improve communication and collaboration among care teams. Our data-driven platform uses smart technology and workflow optimization to enhance nurse call, patient safety, care coordination and alarm management. We also provide messaging capabilities and reporting tools that offer nursing leaders the visibility they need to raise accountability, reduce burnout and improve morale.
Watch this video to learn how Amplion helps hospitals alleviate staff burnout through the use of data and reporting, and schedule a free consultation to discuss how we can help your hospital build happier, more engaged nursing teams.