Increasing nursing satisfaction to drive retention and solve staffing needs

Burnout and dissatisfaction are leading nurses to leave the patient bedside, and without change, the healthcare industry could face a shortfall of up to 450,000 nurses by 2025. Nurse expectations have evolved, and as healthcare employers, we must adapt our workforce management approaches away from transactional employment and towards creating positive work environments. In the face of a growing shortage of registered nurses in the US, prioritizing nurse satisfaction is not only key to the industry’s sustainability but also to the well-being of the nurses and patients they serve.

Understanding Nurse Satisfaction

Nurse satisfaction is more than just a metric; it’s a direct reflection of the likelihood nurses will remain in their current positions. Creating meaningful cultural change that prioritizes nurse satisfaction holds the promise of fortifying nurse retention rates, which can improve patient care, reduce hospital costs and attract top nursing talent.

Importance of Nurse Satisfaction in Retention

Increased quality of patient care. Satisfied nurses are more engaged and focused on their work, leading to improved patient outcomes. When nurses feel supported and valued, they can provide better care, creating a positive patient experience and impact on the healthcare facility’s reputation.

Reduced turnover costs. High turnover rates can be costly. The recruitment and onboarding process for new nurses can be time-consuming and expensive. By investing in nurse satisfaction, facilities can significantly reduce turnover rates, saving time and resources. According to Fitch Ratings, 2024 will be a “make or break” year, financially speaking, for many hospitals, and retaining talent will be the difference maker in a hospital’s cost structure2.

Reduces staffing shortages. Building strong relationships with nurses through empathic listening helps them feel valued, fosters loyalty and encourages them to remain at the facility, and within the industry. Prioritizing these relationships serves as a strategic buffer against staffing shortages exacerbated by the broader nursing shortage.

Enhanced reputation. Satisfied nurses are more likely to share their positive experiences with colleagues and fellow nurses. Word-of-mouth reputation can be a valuable asset in establishing a brand that attracts nursing talent, mitigating the challenges of recruitment.

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Strategies to Increase Nurse Satisfaction

Travel nursing agencies such as Host Healthcare have embraced a customer and culture centric mindset, recognizing nurses as clients with unique needs. The following strategies, while exemplified in the context of travel nursing, are universally applicable across industries and healthcare settings.

Supportive culture. A positive and supportive workplace culture is essential for nurse satisfaction and retention — and it’s not all about pay. A toxic culture is more than twice as predictive of overall satisfaction than compensation or workload for nurses who quit. In fact, toxicity has been found to be the strongest predictor of industry-adjusted attrition during the first six months of the Great Resignation. By cultivating a culture founded on respect, inclusion, ethics and support, employers can create an environment that nurses actively choose to remain in.

Transparent communication. Creating clear and open communication channels is crucial for nurse satisfaction. According to an MIT Sloan Management Review study, nurses value honesty and transparency in communication. Establishing an open dialogue enables healthcare facilities to cultivate a relationship where nurses gain a sense of trust, fostering long-term commitment.

Empathic listening. Everyone wants to be heard and feel valued, and nurses are no different. Offering psychologically safe avenues for nurses to share their insights allows healthcare facilities to proactively address the significant challenges faced by their nursing staff. When facilities consistently gather and act upon this valuable feedback, they cultivate a deeper level of trust with their dedicated staff.

In the current hyper-competitive landscape for nursing labor, prioritizing nurse satisfaction emerges as a key element for attracting and retaining top talent. Recognizing the significance of nurse satisfaction embodies a commitment to fostering a culture of care and support for those who dedicate their lives to helping others. By implementing strategies tailored to address the unique needs of nurses, we can collectively create an environment that not only retains nursing talent but also ensures they thrive within the healthcare facilities and communities they serve.

Adam Francis

Adam Francis
Adam Francis is president of Host Healthcare.

Adam Francis

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