How to Stop Competitors from Stealing Your Nurses

Female nurse taking care of a young boy

Not long ago, a speaker presenting to healthcare employers at a Philadelphia HR conference asked the audience whether competitors were stealing their nurses.

Around the room, heads nodded vigorously.  

Welcome to nursing wars 2019. 

The fierce competition surprises no one. National joblessness may be running in single digits, but nurse rates are even lower, with some specialties reporting unemployment rates under 1%. No wonder hospitals are stealing from each other. It’s even tougher in medical areas where tightly clustered employers pretty much facilitate poaching.  As one HR head in a Texas medical area glumly told us, employees looking for new jobs can just walk across the street. No surprise that the turnover rate grew to its highest rate since 2015. 

What would it take to immunize yourself against those defections? 

The Key To Retaining Nurses, Told by Nurses Themselves

Data we’re about to release from a survey of nurses makes a clear case for one thing nurses want: to learn. Asked “What would keep you with your employer for the next five years?” most -- nearly 2/3 -- agreed or strongly agreed the answer was paid education.  The majority said they’d prioritize education assistance when choosing a job – even over sign-on bonuses and parental leave.  

That makes sense when you consider what else nurses told us: that workloads were their largest sources of stress. Many said they were struggling financially and burning out. A substantial percentage (45%) had even thought about leaving their jobs. Career development could address those issues. Nurses in higher levels or coveted specialties have more control over their schedules, more predictable shifts, and so better work/life balance (the other thing nurses prioritized in job decisions). And cost was the major hurdle to going back to school. So financing school attracts nurses, retains them – and gives employers better skills.

Webinar: Insights from the 2019 Rx for RNs Survey

We go into full detail of the results in our webinar, “Nurse Productivity & Patient Care.” The event features American Nurse Today’s Lillee Gelinas, who helps us analyze the data, and shares real-life insights from her many conversations with nurses about their career challenges and exactly how those challenges are playing out in the workplace.

What we know is that education gives nurses much-desired agency over their careers. It’s such a priority that American Nurse Today offers an exhaustive education guide to help nurses fully explore the opportunity. 

By helping nurses to pay for it, employers can find education offers opportunity for them, too.

Nurse walking up the stairs in a hospital

Nurse Productivity & Patient Care Webinar

Insights from the 2019 Rx for RNs Survey

Written by: Doug Stefano

June 17, 2019

About the Author

Doug Stefano at Bright Horizons

Doug Stefano leads Bright Horizons’ healthcare practice. In this role, he’s charged with keeping Bright Horizons on the forefront of healthcare trends and ensuring that their solutions meet real needs and create maximum value for hospital clients. He and his team help CHROs, CNOs, and other health system leaders reframe their people strategies and win talent. He also specializes in empowering top Magnet hospitals to use their tuition assistance benefit as the foundation for workforce planning and for exceeding Institute of Medicine and Magnet recommendations.