What is nurse turnover? Simple answer, right? It’s any time a nurse leaves an organization to work somewhere else, retire or leave the profession altogether.
But what is nurse turnover really? Ultimately, nurse turnover is a destroyer of:
- Profit margins. The cost of turnover for a bedside RN ranges from $28,400 to $51,700, with hospitals losing $3.6 million to $6.5 million per year, according to Becker’s Hospital CFO Report.1
- Patient care. Unbalanced patient-to-staff ratios can be linked to higher patient mortality, lower patient satisfaction scores, and medication administration and other mistakes. Nurses simply don’t have the time to tend to patients’ emotional, mental and physical needs in the best way possible.
- Morale. Nurse turnover leaves organizations short-staffed, which drives up the stress of the nurses left behind – leading to burnout and even more turnover. It’s a vicious cycle that can take major reform to correct.
- Staff loyalty. In desperation, hospitals are turning to travel nurses to fill staffing voids. While it puts a band-aid on the situation, it’s also causing other challenges. Travel nurses can make significantly more than staff nurses. Not only does that stress hospital budgets, but full-time nurses can feel unappreciated and undervalued. They are doing the same – or more work – for less pay as hospitals continue to cut back their hours, eliminate perks, and suspend raises. Ultimately, staff nurses can leave for greener pastures, often for their own travel positions.
Nurse turnover is driving a staffing crisis. Hospitals are experiencing a record vacancy rate of 17%, which is up 7.1 points compared to 2021, according to the 2022 NSI National Health Care Retention & RN Staffing Report.2
But you likely don’t need to read the stats to understand the challenges – no doubt you’re experiencing nurse shortage pains in your own facility.
How to reduce nurse turnover
Nurse turnover is a complex issue and there is no magic quick-fix solution that will eliminate it altogether. However, here are some nurse retention strategies that can help you lower your nurse turnover rates – and foster a happier, healthier, more productive work culture:
Reduce stress and improve nurse job satisfaction with better scheduling
For nurses, stress comes with the territory, but too much stress for too long leads to burnout, and all the ramifications of burnout. You can make the stress more manageable by doing what you can to keep patient-to-staff ratios low and by protecting nurses’ work/life balance. The right healthcare scheduling application can be vital in the battle against nurse burnout and nurse turnover.
For example, ABILITY SMARTFORCE Scheduler helps you forecast your staffing needs, auto-calculates the correct staffing based on defined ratios so you avoid under-staffing, and enables you to manage and prevent overtime.
Increase communication between nurses and management
Especially during times of stress and change, you can’t have too much communication, transparency and collaboration. Elicit feedback from your nurses and praise their efforts. But also help them to fully understand your staffing challenges and empower them to participate in the scheduling process.
With ABILITY SMARTFORCE Scheduler, everyone can easily see where shift coverage is needed, and staff and managers can work together to fill shifts and plan for PTO. Empowering nurses to actively collaborate in scheduling can dramatically boost teamwork and trust, among nurses and between them and their managers.
Prevent burnout before it happens
It’s safe to say that burnout is one of the leading reasons nurses – and people in general – leave their jobs. But how can you prevent burnout when there’s so much variety in nurses, their stress levels and how they handle stress?
It helps to understand the symptoms, so you can take quick action to address both stress levels and burnout. Nurses on the verge or already experiencing burnout may:
- Act exhausted most or all the time
- Be less productive
- Make more mistakes
- Become emotional and easily triggered
- Be disengaged, less communicative or isolated
- Show up late or call out sick often
- Get ill more often
Unfortunately, by the time you start to see the symptoms, it may already be too late. So technology that can enable you to predict the likelihood of burnout and turnover can be game-changing. ABILITY SMARTFORCE Staffing Insights is a powerful staffing analytics tool that offers insight into staff sentiment and alerts you when research-backed metrics indicate nurses are at risk of burnout and turnover.
Take the next step
If you are ready to be proactive about preventing staff burnout and turnover, connect with an expert today to learn more about our suite of workforce management applications.
1”The cost of nurse turnover by the numbers,” Marissa Plescia, Becker’s Hospital CFO Report, October 14, 2021, https://www.beckershospitalreview.com/finance/the-cost-of-nurse-turnover-by-the-numbers.html.
2”2022 NSI National Health Care Retention & RN Staffing Report,” NSI Nursing Solutions, Inc., https://www.nsinursingsolutions.com/Documents/Library/NSI_National_Health_Care_Retention_Report.pdf
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