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4 Steps to Hire and Retain Your Best Nurses

If you are feeling the burden of the healthcare workforce crisis happening in the United States, you are not alone. Not only is a large portion of our healthcare workforce nearing retirement age, but our general population is aging as well, prompting an increased need for geriatric care. This, coupled with the abysmal retention rates for most nurses or client-facing support professionals may make you wonder—how can I gain control of the changing landscape within my organization? In this blog, we will take you through the 4 steps you need to take in order to hire and retain your best nurses and staff.

Understanding the Healthcare Workforce Crisis in America

The workforce crisis is a real phenomenon and the issues are expected to get worse throughout the next decade. Based on a survey by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing and The Forum of State Nursing Workforce Centers, 50.0% of the RN workforce is at least 50 years of age. As such, The Health and Resources and Services Administration projects that more than 1 million RNs will hit their retirement age within the next 10 to 15 years. On top of that, new graduate nurse retention statistics suggest that as many as 30% of new graduate nurses will leave during their first year of practice, increasing to as many as 57% within the second year.

The Cost of Hiring a New Nurse

With the average cost of turnover per nurse between $37,700-$58,400, hospitals can’t afford to continue to lose the nurses they have. When you consider these costs in conjunction with the high turnover rates, it’s easy to see what a powerful impact turnover has on your organization’s bottom line.

There are many issues that account for staff burnout and lack of engagement leading to turnover, such as insufficient staffing, lack of experience, patient demographics, and inconsistencies in salaries. The problem is exacerbated when you consider that this group of crucial healthcare professions is projected to grow over the next decade, with a 12% projected job growth rate by 2028—much faster than the average for all occupations. Now you can begin to understand the extent of the issues facing healthcare professionals across the country over the next couple of decades.

How to Hire and Retain Your Best Nurses and Staff

Organizations across the continuum of care are inevitably looking for solutions to identify the risk of burnout and turnover, find and retain employees who will be successful in their role, and creatively implement solutions. These solutions must not only address the problem, but sustain the turbulence of the years to come, during which demographics will further curb the availability of competent healthcare professionals.

If you’re reading or searching for information like this, you’re already concerned about investing in your human capital. Let’s walk through the 4 steps to hire and retain your best nurses and staff:

  1. Hire the right person
  2. Tailor onboarding to the individual
  3. Evaluate and enhance ongoing competency
  4. Develop residing and emerging leaders

oneConsider this when hiring a nurse

Nothing will likely provide your organization with a greater return on investment than selecting the right employee for the right job and ensuring they have the right competencies, knowledge, skills, and characteristics to be successful in that job. One versatile solution that healthcare organizations can leverage to improve their hiring and selection process is a personnel assessment.

nurse and doctor team

The U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) defines a personnel assessment as “any method of collecting information on individuals for the purpose of making a selection decision… [which] include, but are not limited to, hiring, placement, promotion, referral, retention, and entry into programs leading to advancement.”

As professionals, we possess “hard skills,” or measurable knowledge that contributes to successful job performance. In addition, our personality characteristics, tendencies, preferences, communication style, personal experience, and the like, all contribute to the formula that makes each person a unique individual. Identifying these key aspects early on within your staff can help ensure you find the right role fit for the right person. That is why it is important to utilize an assessment tool that evaluates the entire person without bias.

twoTailor onboarding to the individual

Even if your organization has an onboarding process, it may not be as effective in preparing new employees for the job as you expect. A recent study found that only 12% of employees strongly agree that their organization does a great job onboarding new employees. In other words, the vast majority of employees would not strongly agree they feel fully prepared and supported in their new role, following their onboarding experience.

threeEvaluate and enhance ongoing competency

Once the position has been filled, it is important to continually evaluate and improve clinical competency. With increasing complex diagnoses, higher acuity and the need for treating the whole person, clinical knowledge needs to be accurate and up to date with current information.

This can be achieved by utilizing course learning and assessments as developmental tools. Ongoing developmental assessments help you better understand your current human capital by identifying areas of strength and improvement that are important to the job role. Then, specific courses focused on knowledge gaps can be assigned to that person.

As an example, the professional practice of nursing continuously evolves for each practitioner. A recent nursing program graduate will have a large body of knowledge on various healthcare specialties. After that nurse has been employed for several years of focused practice, assessments can be used to identify knowledge areas to improve upon. This can set up a personalized path of learning specific to that employee.

fourDevelop residing and emerging leaders

An important aspect of retaining the best nurses and staff is identifying strong leaders within your organization. Direct supervisors have a powerful impact on job satisfaction in frontline service employment. To develop the next leaders for your organization, you must first identify which members of your staff have the necessary propensities that you look for in a leader. Then, you must build on their skillset. Offering continuing education courses to current and future leaders in the areas where there may be gaps in their leadership style is a great way to foster this group’s growth.

With national nurse turnover at 17% and the cost of replacing a single nurse estimated to be $37–58K, hospitals need innovative ways to build and retain a stronger nurse workforce. Relias offers a suite of assessment and learning solutions to reduce nurse turnover, improve onboarding programs, evaluate competency, and develop the next generation of nurse leaders.

Editor’s Note: This blog was originally published in June 2018 and has been updated with new content.


Nurse Engagement, Satisfaction, and Retention Resource Kit

Nurse shortages, challenging work environments, and a lack of professional development contribute to high nurse turnover rates. High turnover adversely impacts the quality of care and is costly to organizations. To help your organization increase nurse engagement, satisfaction, and retention, Relias has developed a resource kit that includes 8+ white papers, webinars, guides and more.

Download the Toolkit →

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