If you’ve hired a newly-licensed RN, there’s a 1 in 5 chance they’ll leave within their first year on the job, according to a study by the RN Work Project. If they make it past the first year, you’re facing 1 in 3 odds that they’ll leave before completion of their second year of employment. By the 8th year on the job, only 40% of newly-licensed nurses will still be working for your facility.

These are just some of the study results of the RN Work Project, through funding from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, to study the career path of newly-licensed registered nurses. The study began in 2006 to survey new nurses and track their career trajectory. The study ends in 2015. The goal is to understand the reasons behind nurse turnover so that healthcare providers can improve recruitment and retention strategies.

Cost of nurse turnover

The Cost of Nurse Turnover

Registered Nurses play a pivotal role in the profitability of healthcare facilities. The financial cost for the turnover of each nurse is estimated to be twice their annual salary. For each percentage increase in nurse turnover, hospitals are estimated to lose $300,000 in profit. To give you an idea of the impact, one 9,000-employee healthcare provider estimated that nurse turnover cost them more than $15 million annually. (Price Waterhouse Cooper)

Why RNs Leave

The primary factors other than wages that influence a nurse’s decision to accept a position are work schedules, career development, and length of commute. If these employee expectations are met within the first year or two, then you stand a good chance at retention. But these are just the main determinants. Additional factors that drive nurse turnover include:

  • Burnout or overwork due to chronic under staffing
  • Lack of role clarity and employee performance objectives
  • Stagnating career development
  • Conflicts with supervisor or coworkers
  • Lack of recognition or respect

While most of the reasons for employee turnover are identical to other professions, nursing is unique in that there are an abundance of jobs available for experienced RNs both locally and nationally. The workforce shortage makes retention much more difficult for hospital human resource departments. Innovative hospital workforce management solutions are needed to create and maintain optimal healthcare staffing.

5 Strategies to Manage Nurse Turnover

Accurately forecast nurse staffing needs. Strategic workforce planning is critical for managing the complexity of staffing in the healthcare industry. There’s really no excuse for healthcare providers not to have a computerized staffing software as the cloud has made it extremely affordable. So affordable in fact, that industry-leader Candidate Direct Marketplace of healthcare professionals provides workforce management software for zero-cost!

Design nursing jobs to be more attractive to candidates. Increasing compensation and benefits is one way to attract candidates. But according to several studies, flexible work schedules, job sharing, and career development rank higher than pay for attracting top nursing talent.

Create a steady pipeline of experienced healthcare professionals. A highly-regarded employment brand is crucial to creating a steady pipeline of nurses and allied health professionals. The Candidate Direct Marketplace is an example of an employment brand that is highly-regarded by healthcare facilities and professionals nationwide to which it owes its success.

Interview and test for cultural fit. Most workplace conflicts can be avoided by ensuring the candidate is a cultural fit for your organization. Psychological assessments, work preferences, and career goals are few ways to test for cultural fit and reduce turnover. Outsourcing to Managed Service Providers MSP and Recruitment Process Outsourcing RPO are additional workforce solutions that can improve the hiring process.

Start new hire retention strategies on the first day. Effective employee engagement begins on the first day of employment and continues through the duration of employment.

The ongoing workforce shortage leaves healthcare providers vulnerable to nurse turnover and its consequences of lower-quality patient care and cost. Statistics show that retention strategies are only part of the answer. Improved sourcing, recruiting and hiring processes through workforce management solutions are critical to solving nurse turnover.

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