7 Things That Cause Nurse Turnover (and 8 Things That Stop It)

ITA Group
ITA Group

Nurse Turnover

Nurse turnover has been plaguing the medical industry for decades, and as years pass, the concern remains costly and harmful to hospitals and patients alike:

Hospitals can easily spend $5 million per year on rehiring, retraining, overtime and more.

And nurse turnover doesn’t just impact your bottom line. The happiness and wellbeing of your nurses positively impacts your patients, too.

While there are countless reasons behind an RN’s decision to leave, addressing these seven nurse retention issues can help you remain profitable, ensure patient happiness and build a thriving culture.      

1. With a high turnover rate, jobs remain unfilled and RNs feel overworked, stressed out and dissatisfied. 

How to stop it: Workplace stress for RNs is not an uncommon concern, as three out of four nurses cited the effects of stress and overwork as a top health concern in an American Nurses Association survey.

That said, feelings of stress can be lowered through a strategic approach. Implement an employee wellbeing program to help nurses cope with on-the-job stress and decompress from the day-to-day rigors of work.      

2. RNs suffer from a lack of role clarity and low sense of control over job performance.

How to stop it: Make sure work expectations and performance are clearly communicated. If communications are not spread across multiple channels, you’re missing a huge opportunity to fully engage with all generations on your team.      

3. Nurses suffer from poor communication with management around critical issues.

How to stop it: Management and supervisors must be visible and available to their teams, and they must solicit input from nurses on critical work issues. Effective interpersonal communication in both personal and professional settings, may reduce stress, promote wellness and therefore, improve overall quality of life, one study claims. Incent your team to share 360-degree feedback of their team, management and others to improve how critical issues are handled.      

4. RNs do not receive adequate recognition or rewards for accomplishments.

How to stop it: The concept of meaningful recognition in the form of feedback has been an integral part of our workplaces since the turn of the century. That’s why stakeholders should recognize and reward superior performance with a custom blend of intrinsic and extrinsic motivators—it’s a proven way of keeping nurses engaged and working hard.

“When we are acknowledged for our work, we are willing to work harder for less pay, and when we are not acknowledged, we lose much of our motivation.”

— Dan Ariely, Payoff: The Hidden Logic That Shapes Our Motivations      

5. Nurses feel minimal opportunities for growth.

How to stop it: Experts agree—nursing is the only profession that has no career path related to the intrinsic reason that brought people to the profession in the first place. That’s why actively supporting career development through online and in-person training courses can help maximize skills, growth potential and professional opportunities.     

6. There’s inadequate trust and collaboration between coworkers.

How to stop it: Trust, a crucial but intangible asset of nursing, is a proven way to impact a team’s ability to form meaningful relationships with each other and is proven to impact health outcomes. If you’re looking to build community amongst your team, build support through events outside of work, such as volunteering, that encourage team members to collaborate.      

7. They get stuck picking up the slack for other nurses.

How to stop it: No one likes to do the work of others, and for an already fragile workforce, addressing underperformance issues that impact others on the nursing team is a make-or-break issue. Sometimes doing another team member’s work is an inevitable part of things, but smart employers should incentivize performance for those that go above and beyond the norm.

To keep your nurses aligned, motivated and on your team, you need programs that touch on performance, career, wellness, social and community.

And if that sounds like a lot to manage, it can be.

That is, of course, unless you take the right approach to employee engagement and motivation. Download our white paper “Why Good Employees Leave: The Unintended Consequence of Great Onboarding” to learn changes you can make today that will help you more effectively engage and retain employees for the long-term.

Why Good Employees Leave: The Unintended Consequence of Great Onboarding