Nurses play a critical role in caring for patients and improving outcomes, but also ensuring hospitals maintain higher HCAHPS scores. While some staff changes are expected, a high turnover rate can be disruptive to the team and affect patient care and satisfaction. As a nurse leader, it can be frustrating to train and manage a nurse only to have him or her become unengaged, or worse, leave the job. So what can you do to change the trend?
Nurse leaders can help reduce turnover. But, first, let’s look at what leads to turnover.
Top Causes of Nursing Staff Turnover
A new nurse starts on your unit. She’s eager to get started, and quickly becomes one of your top staff members. Patients love her, her teammates love her and, overall, she seems to thrive. Then, after several months on the job, her enthusiasm wanes until, eventually, she puts in her notice and leaves. What happened? More often than not, you can tie this back to three factors:
- Not enough leadership engagement. As a nurse leader, it’s easy to assume the rock stars of your team are self-reliant and need little or no guidance. However, even the best nurses still need support and regular communication from their managers.
- Understaffing. Almost all hospital units endure understaffing at one point or another, but solving this issue should always be a top priority. Given the long hours and emotional fortitude required to be a nurse, prolonged understaffing can put your entire team at risk for occupational burnout.
- Personal concerns. Everyone has personal struggles, and many are out of your hands. But personal issues are often amplified by on-the-job challenges. For nurses, this can mean compassion fatigue or limited opportunities for advancement.
Now let’s talk about some of the things you can do to help nurses overcome these concerns.
Be More Engaged
When was the last time you let your team members know how well each was doing? Or discussed what areas they could improve on? Make time to chat with each nurse about their progress on a quarterly basis, and offer guidance regularly. Be sure to have at least one short conversation with each team member per shift, even if you’re experiencing a rush. The more you’re involved, the easier it will be for you to tell when something is amiss—and the more likely it will be for your staff members to come to you when they’re experiencing an issue.
Get Involved in Hiring and Staffing
If you’re not doing so already, find ways to become more involved in the hiring process. Communicate with HR about specific staffing needs and help choose candidates. Take time to review the steps your hospital takes during hiring, such as competency tests and personality tests. Make suggestions to help improve processes and find candidates more likely to fit in—both in terms of skill and culture fit. Lastly, consider building a new hire program to help onboard new nurses and ensure they succeed.
Ask for Feedback
More often than not, employees don’t voice their concerns until they’ve reached a breaking point. Often, by this time, it’s too late.
Instead of waiting for your nurses to come to you, reach out to them. Hold both group and individual meetings and ask for feedback and suggestions to help improve internal processes. In addition to showing your team you care, you also help them feel more involved in the decision-making processes and more integral to your organization as a whole.
Engaged nurses mean happier patients. Learn more about cultivating a positive environment in our eBook, How Nurses Can Increase Satisfaction through Patient-Centered Care.