Don't Take Low Nurse Turnover Rates for Granted

Alexandra Wilson Pecci, for HealthLeaders Media , March 27, 2012

Nurses want overtime, and autonomy
There are lots of ways to do improve nurses' work environments. Brewer points to other research regarding mandatory overtime, which she calls a "dissatisfier" that can be a factor in high turnover rates. Instead, nurses want autonomy and the ability to control when they work overtime.

"It's not that nurses don't want to do overtime, because they quite evidently do. But they want control over the overtime," Brewer told HealthLeaders in January. "Having control over your work hours is a satisfier; it's something that nurses need to have to be satisfied in their job."

Autonomy was also a key issue in the column I wrote last week about a hospital using a self-scheduling program that lets nurses set their own schedules.

Those are just a couple of ways hospitals can make working conditions better for nurses. But whatever strategy they choose to use, nurse leaders should strive to retain their nurses because the job market will inevitably improve.

"For leaders, you cannot tread water. You have to make your environment the best you can because…when that market tilts and we head into the net shortage, you want to be positioned to keep your nurse," Brewer says. "You can't ever stop trying to make your work environment better or you will lose out."

Alexandra Wilson Pecci is a managing editor for HealthLeaders Media.

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