Keeping nurses happy should be a top priority for health care organizations

Many health care organizations are facing similar struggles as they attempt to deal with the high rate of nurse turnover.

“Nurse turnover is higher in emergency room departments, which can be attributed to burnout. However, the issues that generally leads to nurse turnover are the same across the acute care environment,” says Chris Dube, president of Sentact. “For example, extensive turnover tends to occur when nurses are not happy. This leads them to seek out a new work environment.”

Dube says that nurses leaving for better work environments tends to occur when staffing levels at their current workplace are not adequate, communication is not transparent, process improvement is non-existent, and wages are not competitive.

Smart Business spoke with Dube about nurses: the factors that lead to their turnover and how organizations can make improvements to keep them happy so they’re less likely to leave.

What organizations have the most trouble with nurse turnover?

Many organizations face the same struggle with nurse turnover, regardless of type. It really comes down to nurses’ happiness. The demand in the market for nurses is so high that they can leave an organization and have a high degree of confidence that they’ll find another position with better conditions.

What is it that tends to make nurses unhappy?

There are many factors that contribute to a nurse’s happiness. Clearly competitive wages and adequate staffing are two of the leading factors. However, there are other components that impact their satisfaction level. Those include elements such as:

  • Minimal obstacles: Organizations should work to remove as many obstacles to patient care as possible. Nurses don’t want to have to jump through hoops to just take care of a patient.
  • Adequate resources: Having the equipment, devices and supplies available that nurses need to care for patients directly impacts nurses’ level of satisfaction. Nurses don’t want to have to search a hospital wing for a piece of equipment. Rather, they want to be able to locate medical devices quickly and efficiently. Searching for needed items takes valuable time away from patient care.
  • Managerial support: Managers should be able to demonstrate their understanding of issues such as training, daily obstacles and red-tape. This helps improve the satisfaction rate of nurses dramatically.

Organizations can easily track how happy their nurses are by completing simple rounds that are focused entirely on employee satisfaction. Health care organizations can gauge whether or not they’re creating a good working environment for nurses by asking such questions as:

  • Do you have the necessary resources to do your job?
  • Do you feel as if the organization gives you the opportunity to learn and grow?
  • Do you feel as if your colleagues are committed to the success of the organization?

But more than just asking the questions, organizations must respond to the results of these rounds to show that they are providing the nurses with all that they need to feel that they can adequately tend to the needs of their patients.

Why is it important for organizations to keep their nurses happy?

It is critical that organizations keep nurses happy as nurses directly impact patient satisfaction. The longer they remain in service at the hospital network, the more they contribute to the bottom line.

Reducing employee turnover in a nursing staff by just 1 percent translates to a substantial savings to health care facilities.

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