How to attract and retain nurses

Emergency Alert: 55% of nurses are aged 50+

In Onboarding, Recognition and Engagement, Retention by Lori McKnight

The Nursing Shortage

Emergency alert: One-third of registered nurses are reaching retirement age in the next few years.

Nurses comprise over half of a hospital’s workforce, provide the majority of daily patient care and are the single biggest factor influencing how patients rate a hospital.

And nearly 700,000 of them will be approaching retirement age by 2024.

This is raising the blood pressure of HR healthcare professionals responsible for attracting and retaining enough nurses to meet the demands of an aging patient population. With 55% of nurses over the age of 50, there’s lots to worry about.

Here are just a few stats keeping healthcare providers up at night:

  • Growth rate for people aged 65+ is 42%+ compared to a 12% growth rate for people under 65 years of age
  • There are 7 caregivers per 1 patient today; by 2050 the ratio will be 3-1
  • 2/3 of seniors will need significant to moderate help with their day to day activities
  • the number of RNs is projected to grow by 16% over the next five years but school enrollment is only increasing by 3.6%

How are hospitals preparing to meet demand for nurses amidst an insufficient supply?

Here are 3 ways to care for your patients AND people…

1. Hold onto those Baby Boomers

  • Highlight benefits attractive to nurses close to retirement
  • Offer some control over their schedule and more flextime
  • Recognize their expertise and contributions publicly
  • Identify those with “deep smarts” and encourage job shadowing, mentoring and transfer knowledge. This gives a sense of pride and purpose that will aid in retention

2. Recognize Generational Differences

Technology has created an era of personalization never before experienced. The one-size-fits all motto of standardized offerings doesn’t necessarily resonate when managing a multigenerational workforce. Here are some things to consider.

Gen Xers are looking for:

  • A competitive salary and benefits. 55% of GenXers say they are behind on their retirement savings
  • Training. Roughly two in three Gen Xers say their employers don’t provide people, skills and technology training
  • Respect. This generation feels overlooked and is the most under-engaged. Public recognition and respect for their experience will improve feeling valued

Millennials want to work for organizations that:

  • Care about what’s going on in their life. This work-life integration is critical to engaging and retaining
  • Recognize their efforts. Social media has created a HUGE need for recognition with this demographic. They are used to regular feedback on their activities and expect it. It fuels them
  • Provide linear and non-linear career paths

Gen Zers are more conservative than you might think. They value:

  • Job stability, a competitive salary and loan repayments
  • Skills training. Skills may be the most valuable asset they own and primary source of job security.
  • Technology. Even more than Millennials, GenZers will demand their employers use technology to be efficient and productive. They won’t fill out manual forms.

3. Refresh your Onboarding Programs

Onboarding is often overlooked in a fast-paced hospital environment.

  • Require supervisors/managers to check-in with new hires at regular checkpoints to gauge how they are fitting in. Quick Pulse Checks and scheduling tools can really help.
  • Use mobile communication tools so teams can stay connected on the go. There’s a 50% boost in engagement when employees have friends and feel supported at work.

Recognition can be done on a shoestring budget

There’s a perception that recognizing and rewarding employees is expensive. It doesn’t have to be. There are many value-added, low-cost ways recognition can motivate and retain in healthcare. CSI STARS works with many hospitals and healthcare organizations. It’s a sweet spot of ours. We’d be happy to share what’s working well for our healthcare clients and do a short demo for your team. Contact us to set it up.

Related Resources

FREE ROAR (Remind Others to Appreciate and Recognize) workplace posters
Learn and Earn SHRM Healthcare Webinar
Healthcare Case Study

Author: Lori McKnight

Lori McKnightAs VP of Recognition for CSI STARS, everything I do is about promoting small acts of recognition inside and outside the workplace. Positive words, deeds and attitudes multiplied by many creates a culture where people want to work, where they refer their friends and put in their best efforts. It’s really that simple!My Creds: MBA, Certified Recognition Professional, Forbes Council Member and GO SHRM blog squad contributor. Prior to joining CSI STARS, I worked at Mercer Human Resource Consulting and was Account Director at Youthography, a youth market research consultancy.