Nurse Retention Strategies That Actually Work

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RN turnoverNavigating the healthcare staffing landscape these days feels like solving a complex puzzle, especially with RN turnover grabbing the spotlight recently. This issue of nurse retention is more than just an operational headache; it hits organizations right in the budget and, frankly, in the heart of teams’ morale.

According to the 2024 NSI National HealthCare Retention & RN Staffing Report, 34% of RNs left the organization within the first year of hire, and the average cost of nurse turnover negatively impacts organizations $3.9 million to $5.8 million per year.

Why are so many nurses leaving?

Understanding the Crisis of Nurse Retention

We all know the RN turnover crisis is a complex problem that not only impacts the bottom line, it significantly influences patient care and the overall health of the organization. The culprits? The usual suspects: the relentless pressure cooker of workplace stress, the all-too-common burnout, and the “not enough-hands-on-deck” scenario.

But one of the toughest truths is: workplace bullying and incivility are driving nurses to quit, as reported by Atashzadeh et al. (2021), which uncovered that 55.10% of our nurses experience incivility.

How do we turn this issue around?

What I Heard Last Week at AONL…

As I am fresh from the annual American Organization for Nursing Leadership (AONL) conference, I’m still buzzing with energy and ideas, especially after attending Becky Hartley’s talk on “Stopping the Staffing Bleed: Strategies to Retain and Bring Home Our Staff.”

Becky’s session highlighted the urgency of addressing nurse retention but also illuminated a path forward. Her strategies include:

  • Enhancing Staff Accountability for Behavior:

    • Clearly defining acceptable and unacceptable behavior as a team.
    • Regularly providing constructive feedback and recognizing achievements to motivate and affirm staff.
    • Find healthy workforce champions who believe that culture matters.
  • Fostering a Healthy Work Culture:

    • Encouraging an environment built on mutual respect and collaborative efforts.
    • Actively engaging nurses in decision-making and community-building activities to strengthen their sense of belonging and investment in the workplace.
  • Strengthening Community Engagement:

    • Acknowledging and celebrating the unique contributions of each nurse, reinforcing their value within the team.
    • Listen more. Reinforce standards of behavior. Teach people how to behave.

Nurse Retention Strategies that Align with HWI

Becky’s talk addressed the crisis head-on and gave examples of how to improve nurse turnover and create a healthy work culture—topics that resonate deeply with us here at the Healthy Workforce Institute.

And it confirms what we have been saying for years: culture is more important than a paycheck.

You know as well as we do that the real heart of nursing isn’t just about the tasks we check off each day. It’s about being part of a community that lifts each other up—a place where respect and support are given freely. But, throw bullying and incivility into the mix, and suddenly that foundation starts to crumble, taking away what many of us find most rewarding about this job.

Think about the new grads coming in, all wide-eyed and excited, ready to soak up everything and make a real difference. It’s tough seeing that enthusiasm get knocked down by a toxic work environment. They should be growing and thriving, but instead, they’re getting pushed out before they’ve even had a chance to shine. And let’s not even start on how much of a hit that is to the industry—we’re losing out on so much potential.

And then there are our seasoned pros—the backbone of our departments. They’ve poured years into this profession, armed with commitment and a kind of resilience that’s hard to come by. But we all have our breaking point. Facing down negativity day in, day out can really wear you down, making even the most steadfast among us question if it’s worth sticking around. It’s disheartening, to say the least, seeing our experienced nurses leave too because the environment just isn’t what it should be.

So what can we do?

The Solution to RN Turnover

It’s no secret that here at the Healthy Workforce Institute, we’re constantly tackling the tough stuff: nurse bullying, burnout, and that ever-annoying high turnover rate. You’ve probably heard us talk about it on our podcast with Becky Hartley, or maybe you’ve even jumped into the conversation yourself during one of our webinars.

So, what’s our game plan? Well, it aligns perfectly with what Becky advocates, which starts with equipping you, the frontline leader, with the knowledge and skills in our eLearning webinar: “How to Reduce Bullying, Burnout, & Turnover: Strategies for Healthcare Leaders.” This isn’t your average “sit back and half-listen” webinar—it’s an eLearning webinar that helps you take action on nurse retention.

Here’s what you’ll walk away with:

  • The “Why” Behind the “What”: We’ll dive deep into the real reasons your staff might be eyeing the exit signs.
  • Strategic Plans: You’ll pick up proven frameworks that prevent workplace toxicity from taking root.
  • Real Talk Tactics: We’ll show you how to spot the toxic behaviors and, more importantly, how to shut them down gracefully.
  • Leadership Level-Up: This webinar is practically a leadership booster shot, equipping you to lead with more empathy and proficiency than ever before.

Leaders who’ve watched this webinar are reporting back with some incredible wins. We’re talking stronger teams, less drama, and more “I actually love my job” conversations floating around their departments.

If you’re nodding along and thinking, “Yep, we could use some of that magic,” then I’d say it’s time to get in on this action. Check out the webinar right here: How to Reduce Bullying, Burnout, & Turnover.

Let’s roll up our sleeves and build healthcare teams that aren’t just surviving their shifts but are absolutely loving what they do. Together, we can make healthcare a better place for our nurses and for you – our leaders.

If you’re nodding along and thinking,
“Yes, we could use some of that magic,” then I’d say it’s time to get in on this action.

Check out the webinar right here:
How to Reduce Bullying, Burnout, & Turnover.

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