The current state of the nursing workforce can only be described as unprecedented. Nurse leaders continue to seek innovative strategies to address challenges in attracting new nurses in a competitive landscape. What are new nurses looking for in an employer?
Our 2022 Nurse Salary Research Report found that higher compensation, better support for work-life balance, and more reasonable workloads were among the top factors that would keep nurses in the profession. Furthermore, 29% of nurses are considering leaving the profession altogether. We are seeing similar results in other studies as well.
Healthcare organizations should consider several of these critical factors as early as the recruitment process. Nurses entering the workforce for the first time need to have clear expectations of recruitment packages, including compensation and work schedules. Organizations can further enhance the recruitment experience by connecting the applicant with a nurse manager in the interview process. Feeling supported by nurse managers has a strong correlation to retention.
With an already competitive recruiting terrain, organizations should analyze every step of their hiring and recruitment process. They should ensure they are connecting with their mission, vision, and values so that applicants have a positive experience. Below are some elements employers can consider.
Aligning recruitment with mission and values
What can be most appealing to a new nurse is seeing how their employer aligns its values, vision, and mission. This starts with clearly defining the organization’s mission and ensuring it’s available to both employees and applicants. The mission should express the organization’s core competencies, such as patient-centered care, innovation, and collaboration.
To share this with potential candidates, consider incorporating them into job postings and website content. It can also be helpful to share specific examples of how this mission is carried out day to day. For instance, success stories from current staff or patients, or testimonials from nurse leadership can illustrate how the organization remains committed to patient-centered care and the innovation behind it. The goal is to demonstrate the organization’s mission, values, and vision in a tangible way to reach and relate to the best-fitting candidates.
Sixty percent of healthcare workers say they feel stressed managing their personal finances, according to Forbes. With challenges like inflation affecting the U.S. economy, competitive and fair compensation is a strong concern for nurses.
As new nurses transition into clinical practice, they are often carrying the weight of student loans and other financial unknowns. Nearly 70% of nursing students use student loans to fund their education. So competitive compensation and benefits are strong motivations for new nurses. However, it is important during the recruitment stage to be transparent and realistic about salary. Avoid making overreaching promises that would be difficult to deliver.
Nurses want to feel that their skills, experience, knowledge, and clinical expertise are valued fairly. While new nurses have more to learn, they are looking for recognition that their individual contributions will be valued from the start at an organization.
Ways to support workforce and clinical excellence
The first year of employment can be overwhelming for new nurses. To reduce the first-year stress, employers, nurse leaders, recruiters, and hiring staff can set them up for success before the first application is submitted.
Studies have shown that turnover among new nurses remains high due to reasons such as work environment and job stress. Nursing staff and patients can feel the effects when turnover leads to higher healthcare costs and risks to patient safety, outcomes, and quality of care. During the recruitment process, employers should set the stage for better retention by highlighting some key aspects that affect nurses’ desire to stay in a job — work environment and well-being.
Organizations can demonstrate their commitment to both workforce and clinical excellence in the following ways:
- Security and physical safety: These factors continue to be concerns for nurses, and healthcare organizations should promote how they are creating a sustainable culture of safety. Whether recurring training programs, assessments, safety incentives, or workplace violence prevention protocols, make security and physical safety a priority to both staff and candidates.
- Psychological safety: Supporting psychological safety in nurses can be achieved through peer support programs, debriefing sessions, and workplace mental health resources. Organizations that share their dedication to this area not only help improve care but also promote continued organizational learning.
- Communication and teamwork: These are both essential for maintaining patient safety, care quality, and a positive work environment. During recruitment, healthcare organizations should showcase an environment that encourages open and transparent communication, interdisciplinary collaboration, recognition and appreciation, and peer-to-peer support.
- Programs focused on patient safety and workplace wellness: Highlighting programs dedicated to patient safety and wellness supports new nurses in expanding their knowledge of clinical and safety practices. However, it also reinforces the need for mental health support in the workplace. This shows a commitment to employee health and a work environment that is safe for staff and patients.
Attract new nurses by prioritizing well-being
Highlighting well-being as a benefit in the recruitment process and beyond is critical. The impact of burnout, stress, and emotional exhaustion can impact patient outcomes as well as job satisfaction. According to McKinsey, top factors that influenced nurses to leave the profession were lack of work-life balance and unmanageable workloads. These results reinforce the need for organizations to prioritize well-being at work.
The following elements demonstrate an organizational commitment to wellness and show applicants what employers are doing to support their well-being:
- Workforce well-being programs (e.g., employee assistance program, peer support committees)
- Self-care (e.g., free or reduced-cost counseling, debriefing, on-site mental health support)
- Emotional health days and PTO
- Peer-to-peer support and mentorship programs
- Flexible staffing models
- Resilience training
A culture of learning
Novice nurses enter the workforce with curiosity and a willingness to learn. It is essential for them to have adequate support so they can continue to grow. One study highlighted that early career nurses felt that they lacked sufficient training and support during their orientation period. As a result, they felt unprepared and less confident in their roles.
A commitment to lifelong learning is a key aspect of nursing. New nurses are looking for a personalized approach and comprehensive programs. So how can employers show support for career growth to attract the best-fitting candidates? Here are a few strategies:
- Comprehensive orientation programs: Orientation programs introduce new staff to an organization’s mission to better prepare them for their new work environment. These should include explanations of job responsibilities and expectations; comprehensive training on organizational workflows, policies, and procedures; and additional resources related to their role. Studies have shown that well-designed orientation programs improve nurse competency, satisfaction, and engagement. These in turn improve patient care and satisfaction.
- Clear career pathways: Outlining various career paths within organizations can help new nurses see how they can advance professionally. For instance, showing possible career paths to different specialties or promotions to leadership roles can make nurses excited to grow in their careers and with their employer.
- Internal training or continuing education programs: Highlight career growth and continued learning through elements such as clinical ladder programs, quality improvement initiatives, research opportunities, conferences, professional certifications, or support programs. Professional development opportunities allow new nurses to acquire further skills, experience different settings, and facilitate a commitment to lifelong learning. In fact, McKinsey reported that during the COVID-19 pandemic, more nurses wanted opportunities to grow and acquire new skills after floating across units, acuity levels, and settings.
- Including technology: Technology has a central place in health care. And in recruitment and onboarding, technology tools not only enhance and streamline workflows, they also serve as a critical resource for professional development. From virtual simulations to e-learning platforms, technology gives new and experienced nurses opportunities to expand their knowledge more conveniently and at a pace that works for them.
Standing out to attract new nurses
Healthcare organizations should emphasize their core strengths and attributes in a way that sets them apart from other employers. Taking full advantage of social media, website content, and email campaigns enable organizations to put their best foot forward to attract top performers. By emphasizing aspects like professional development, organizations can effectively position themselves as a desirable place to work, attracting new nurses who seek growth, a sense of purpose, and a supportive culture.
For more information on Nurse.com’s skills-based talent marketplace or to build your custom talent acquisition solution package, contact us today.