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

ITA Group
ITA Group

exhausted nurse experiencing burnout

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 of your nurses can enhance their self-esteem and passion for professional roles and quality job performance, 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. 

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.

How to stop it: Although there is no easy, one-size-fits-all solution to recover from burnout, there are methods including showing appreciation, encouraging breaks and honing in on individual motivations that have been proven to help people regain control over feelings and begin to find joy and meaning in work again.

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. Developing skills such as empathy, collaboration, and relationship-centered communication can strengthen healthcare teams and promote a more supportive and positive work environment.

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: In trying times, healthcare leaders can lose sight of the important role professional development can play in terms of a support system for nurses. Supporting career development through online and in-person training courses can help maximize skills, growth potential and professional opportunities to learn about managing new disease processes and complex patient populations. One way for leaders to support continuing professional development is to provide access to in-house continuing education opportunities.

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

How to stop it: Poor management and leadership and a lack of teamwork are the kinds of issues that create a deficient work experience for nurses. 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: Increased workloads are another issue that causes nurses’ stress and anxiety on the job. Nursing shortages account for some of the necessity of increased workloads. Poor management of a healthcare environment can lead to shortages of qualified staff. Nurses are expected to work harder to make up for anyone slacking, but become burned out and end up quitting themselves, worsening the shortage situation—continuing a vicious cycle. 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 every aspect of the employee experience.

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 “The Pitfalls of Great Onboarding: Is It Creating Employee Retention Issues?” to learn changes you can make today that will help you more effectively engage and retain employees for the long-term.

Employee Retention White Paper