How Do We Win the War for Hiring Nurses?

By Staff Report

Sep. 30, 2015

Dear Weary Warrior:

Unfortunately for you and others in the same skirmish, the war for nursing talent is destined to be epic. Consider this:

  • The Bureau of Labor has projected a 19 percent growth in employment for registered nurses and a 34 percent growth rate for nurse practitioners from 2012 to 2022.
  • In its ranking of top 100 health care jobs, US News ranks NPs second and RNs sixth from the top.
  • 53 percent of working nurses are older than 50, according to data quoted by the American Nurses Association.

Additionally, the Affordable Care Act is causing a shift in new roles and accountabilities for nurses, resulting in even stiffer competition for talent.

While there are no silver bullets, here are three recommendations to add to your arsenal:

1. Don’t compartmentalize recruitment and/or retention efforts. Both need to be integrated activities in a continuous strategy of “talent acquisition” including employer branding, compensation/rewards, onboarding, mentoring/coaching, exit interviews, formal retention policies and so on. Each component can affect your ability to hire and retain the best nurses so conduct an impartial, end-to-end review of all talent acquisition processes and strengthen weak links. You might discover, for example, that viable candidates find your online application system so cumbersome that they give up trying to apply. Or that extending an onboarding program can greatly increase retention in the very critical first year. Or that simple fixes identified through exit interviews can lessen attrition.

2. Focus on the future. Given the anticipated wave of retirements, attracting younger nurses today to allow for on-the-job mentoring and knowledge transfer by more experienced nurses is key. Likewise, this also presents an opportunity to set out well-defined career tracks for millennial RNs entering the workforce, and this progression toward career growth can also enhance retention. As nursing becomes more specialized, pipeline sourcing is invaluable to fill especially difficult positions. If internal recruiters are already overworked, consider using specialized external resources to focus on millennial recruitment, priority positions and to build a pipeline for future talent needs.

3. Keep a close eye on demographics and assess your employment brand accordingly. Millennials are taking over as the predominant demographic and what they look for can be very different. To hire and keep the next generation of nurses, consider their perspectives on work-life balance, advancement opportunities, use of and comfort with technology and on the profession itself. A positive workplace culture can definitely help you retain great talent, even overriding other considerations that can’t be changed, such as long commutes. Also monitor the competitive landscape to be sure your employee value proposition stacks up. You may need to rethink previously sacrosanct policies such as mandatory overtime. Given that the American Nursing Association estimates it costs between $62,100 and $67,100 to replace a single RN, it is a small price to pay.

SOURCE: Gayle Norton, TalentRise, Chicago, Sept. 8, 2015.

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