- The current nursing shortage is described as “more than twice as large as any nurse shortage experienced since the introduction of Medicare and Medicaid in the mid-1960s,” according to a Vanderbilt report.
- Healthcare leaders must learn to recognize signs of burnout early and implement strategies to prevent it from impacting their workforce.
- Digital workplace tools give nurses and health leaders more time and energy to invest in patient care.
Nurses are the backbone of the healthcare industry, keeping daily healthcare operations on track while also saving lives and supporting doctors.
However, the combination of an aging generation of baby boomers needing care while droves of nurses are either retiring or leaving the profession means the current demand for qualified nurses greatly outweighs the supply, according to “The 2030 Problem: Caring for Aging Baby Boomers,” Health Services Research.
Nurses’ underappreciated work has never been more visible as healthcare employers struggle to address this shortage. A Vanderbilt report described it as “more than twice as large as any nurse shortage experienced since the introduction of Medicare and Medicaid in the mid-1960s.” As a result, leaders are scrambling to develop strategies to retain their dwindling staff.
See related sidebar: The burnout outbreak among nurses
To mitigate the increasingly severe nursing shortage and keep nurses from quickly burning out, healthcare leaders must learn to recognize signs of burnout early and implement strategies to prevent it from impacting their workforce. Transitioning to a digital workplace is a cost-effective way to improve well-being and retention in healthcare.
3 strategies to boost nursing staff retention
Making small changes to your business processes that boost worker engagement can be the difference between happy and healthy nurses and burnt-out nurses who are more inclined to leave. Integrating technology into your business through digital workplace tools frees up time for nurses and health leaders, giving them more time and energy to invest in patient- and self-care. Here are three key areas that healthcare employers can optimize with the addition of a digital workplace.
1. Communication. All too often, communication breaks down between an organization’s administrators and its frontline workers. When this happens within health systems, the results can be fatal. Nurses may feel disconnected and powerless in their roles when an organization isn’t actively prioritizing transparency and communication. Healthcare providers can facilitate collaboration between nurses and their colleagues, supervisors and upper management by adopting a central platform for internal communication.
Simplified communication and heightened connections also mean teams will feel more empowered to reach out when they need help. Nurses will feel in-the-know and connected to their community, and less likely to leave their current workplaces.
2. Scheduling. Nurses have extremely demanding and often unpredictable work schedules, which can become a leading cause of burnout in cases where scheduling is inflexible. Having more control over their hours gives nurses agency to prioritize mental and physical health and feel more engaged at work. By using a digital workplace platform, healthcare employers can allow nurses to request time off and easily trade shifts. Scheduling shifts digitally also increases efficiency, preventing stress for nurses and their managers and allowing both parties to spend more time doing meaningful work.
3. Training. Training provides workers with a sense of belonging and achievement.When career development isn’t tracked and facilitated by on-demand, self-service training, nurses are at high risk of burning out and are left feeling overwhelmed by responsibilities and processes without a sense of achievement. Incorporating micro-training into day-to-day operations — especially when it includes a curriculum for personal health and managing job-related stress — is integral to retaining your best workers and maintaining a high level of patient care.
A step in the right direction
Demand for nurses is going to continue to grow over the next decade — according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 1.2 million vacancies will emerge for registered nurses between 2014 and 2022. If your staff isn’t satisfied, they’ll have the ability to pursue new opportunities with more efficient management processes. Retaining nurses is critical to the health of both patients and staff.
Though no one can control the increase in aging patients needing care nor the flood of nurses reaching retirement age, as a healthcare leader, you do have the power to increase well-being in your workplace to prevent burnout. Adopting a digital workplace is a great first step to minimizing turnover by empowering nurses with better communication, scheduling and training capabilities.