Over the last few years, there have been many obstacles in healthcare that have impacted employee pay and working conditions. These obstacles have led to many employees quitting the industry altogether, increasing the demand for healthcare worker jobs as workers seek other opportunities. In fact, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts nearly half a million nurses will retire between now and the end of 2022, creating a shortage of over one million nurses in the country.
These numbers will also affect long-term care, assisted living facilities and hospitals, as nurses leaving bedside nursing may lead to more stress on staff members and reduce the quality of care for patients. As a manager, admin, or CEO of your nursing facility, it's critical to know the trends in healthcare and what's causing workers to leave their positions. Knowing the top reasons why nurses are quitting will help you stay ahead of the curve and find ways to improve your management practices.
Why Are Nurses Quitting?
Healthcare workers encompass a wide range of staff, including nurses and physicians, who have faced mental, emotional, and physical challenges, such as exhaustion. This has led to high turnover rates within the healthcare industry, which is a costly factor. Studies show that it costs about two times a staff member's salary to replace them, which is why retention rates are so important.
Employee turnover doesn't just have a financial impact on a business but also on productivity, treatment outcomes, and patient care. Training new healthcare workers, such as nurses, can be expensive and time-consuming, leaving your system short-staffed. One study found that high rates of employee turnover were directly associated with high patient mortality. In addition, financial or overall job stress can also lead to a decline in productivity and cause medical errors.
Let's take a closer look at the top five reasons why nurses are leaving the healthcare industry.
1. The COVID-19 Pandemic
It's no secret that the COVID-19 pandemic put an immense amount of physical, emotional, and mental stress on all healthcare workers—especially nurses. From nurses in hospitals to caregivers in assisted living facilities, many staff members worked long shifts and reused the same masks or gloves due to nationwide shortages.
The strain of the pandemic also made it difficult for nurses to see their loved ones, making many of them lose the passion they previously had for caregiving. Others contracted COVID themselves and could no longer work. These issues drove many nurses out of the field and caused frustration for the ones who stayed.
Usually, nursing schools see nearly 190,000 new nurses every year, but by their second year in the industry, 33% of them leave the bedside. After the pandemic, these numbers are even worse. Nearly one in five healthcare workers quit their jobs since the start of the pandemic.
As the height of the pandemic and quarantine times have decreased, there is more relief in the workforce, but many nurses may still feel the effects of the pandemic and feel the industry is ill-equipped to support their needs.
The COVID-19 vaccine is also a source of stress for many nurses as some healthcare facilities may require them for all staff members. One study conducted by the American Health Care Association (AHCA) and the National Center for Assisted Living (NCAL) found that 40% of assisted living facilities reported that employer and state vaccination requirements have been the biggest obstacle when hiring new staff.
Burnout is a severe form of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion and stress caused by constantly feeling overwhelmed. Many workers who feel emotionally drained or unable to keep up with the demands of their jobs and personal life may be experiencing burnout, but there are many other causes and symptoms.
While burnout can be present in any job, it's particularly high in the healthcare industry. Working through a pandemic and dealing with the overall stress of caring for others can become overwhelming for many nurses, even those with years of experience. One report found that 44% of nurses cited burnout and a high-stress environment as the reasons for their desire to leave their jobs.
The nature of caregiving jobs can make staff members take on a heavy emotional toll. Along with burnout, nurses may feel immense stress and trauma as they regularly deal with sickness and death. Healthcare workers want to help their patients and residents, and it can become frustrating if they feel powerless because of their own stress.
Many nurses that deal with burnout are also more susceptible to other mental health conditions and depressive disorders. When facing many different stressors, nurses might also become emotionally detached or even irritable with patients and colleagues as a result of burnout.
3. Financial Stress and Lack of Work Benefits
Financial stress and employee benefits are other primary reasons why nurses are quitting. It's easy to imagine how financial stress can impact the well-being of nurses and their job performance, especially when dealing with a pandemic or staffing shortages. Financial stress affects many workers in the United States, including those in healthcare already coping with burnout.
When your staff deals with emotional exhaustion and financial stress, it's hard not to carry those feelings into their daily job. Financial burdens might cause nursing staff to feel less satisfied and less focused on the task at hand, which can also affect the quality of care for residents and patients.
However, instead of increasing salaries, many hospitals and other healthcare facilities have opted for sign-on bonuses to attract new nurses. In Texas, there was a significant increase in offers with sign-on bonuses, from 16% in 2020 to 58% in 2021. These bonuses ranged from about $5,000 to $10,000, but overall salaries in the state actually decreased by 5% within the last year. In addition, many permanent nursing staff members feel increased financial competition with travel nurses, who tend to have much higher rates.
These compensation differences can cause major dissatisfaction, another issue that can pressure nurses to leave their positions in assisted living or long-term care facilities and create more turnover.
Nurses are also looking for better job benefits that incentivize staying in their positions even through grueling working conditions, such as more PTO, paternal leave policies, and job security. From reduced salaries and benefits to canceled raises and longer hours, it's easy to see why many nurses feel undervalued and seek employment in other industries. When under financial stress and the feeling that their work isn't worth the lack of benefits, nurses may leave in search of jobs with greater flexibility and more opportunity for career advancement.
4. Working Conditions
Nursing staff, among all healthcare workers, deal with trauma, stress, and death in many different circumstances. For those working in long-term care or assisted living facilities, caring for residents and feeling responsible for so many loved ones can become taxing if working conditions are not up to speed. Working conditions encompass a wide range of issues, from adequate staffing to proper PPE to efficient management processes. Nursing staff can also deal with negative working conditions when dealing with patients and residents themselves.
For example, patient frustrations and discrimination are just some of the issues nurses deal with outside of the COVID-19 pandemic. Many nurses have experienced physical or verbal attacks by patients or their family members with threats, obscenities, and violence. Unfortunately, violence in the healthcare setting is nothing new. One study found that between 8% and 38% of all healthcare workers around the world experience some form of violence, which only adds to an already stressful environment.
More research shows that nurses rely heavily on leadership and management to keep working conditions positive and create a better work culture. Having effective leadership and support from supervisors and other administrative staff is key to addressing employee concerns and preventing issues like job dissatisfaction.
5. Staffing Shortages
Nurses dealing with payroll errors, miscommunication, staffing shortages, scheduling issues, or denied PTO or sick leave are some problems facing management. With the work and stress load that most caregivers already bear, poor management practices for essential administrative tasks can be the last straw for some healthcare workers. Many healthcare facilities are still battling staffing shortages causing longer wait times for patients. In fact, reports show that staffing shortages are a top patient safety concern.
If fundamental needs, such as an adequate nurse-to-resident ratio, aren't met, it can be easier for nurses to make mistakes on paperwork, forget to complete documentation, or unintentionally neglect patient needs as they become overwhelmed with other tasks.
As of March of 2022, 28% of nursing facilities have at least one type of staff shortage. Additionally, 96% of assisted living communities are facing staffing shortages, and 30% of these communities say their staffing situation has become severe. The study conducted by the AHCA and NCAL also found that 100% of assisted living facilities are asking some of their nursing staff to work overtime or take on extra shifts, and 28% limit new resident and patient admissions—all due to staffing shortages.
Appropriate staffing levels can provide many benefits to these facilities, including more job satisfaction, better retention rates, and a decrease in medical errors.
Solutions to Reduce Nurse Turnover
Employee turnover is a costly issue in any industry, but retaining quality nursing staff in healthcare has proven to be a challenge lately. The better your retention rates, the better quality you can deliver to your residents and keep productivity high. However, as more and more healthcare workers justify leaving their positions, businesses need to fight to give them more control over their careers, access to more benefits, and reduce their administrative burdens.
These types of solutions can help create an immediate impact by giving staff more flexibility and helping them avoid feelings of stress and burnout. For instance, using a nurse management software to keep watch of your staff member's overtime to ensure they aren't working too much will show them you're looking out for their well-being. Investing in a nurse management software like SmartLinx that provides solutions to several problems at once makes it easier to automate administrative tasks and improve other processes.
Reduce Scheduling Hassle
Research shows that having adequate staffing and limiting the number of hours per shift are primary factors to help alleviate nursing burnout. SmartLinx offers solutions that let you handle real-time scheduling and personal data in one simple platform to ensure adequate staffing for each shift. You can provide immediate notifications to employees about any scheduling changes, open shifts, new schedules, and time-off request approvals through a variety of communication methods that make it easy to stay in touch.
Enabling employees to easily submit time-off and open shift requests creates several options to help avoid short-staffing among nurses. With the management demands in assisted living and long-term care facilities, seamlessly managing shifts with automation can streamline administration and reduce issues with nursing schedules. With SmartLinx, you can optimize your operations and tailor the software to meet your unique needs.
Balancing day-to-day priorities can be challenging, but keeping your nursing staff and residents happy should be at the top of the list. By automating your existing processes, you can easily find replacements for staff members on leave or communicate last-minute schedule updates through mobile access features that employees can access at their fingertips. With this feature, employees can also swap shifts, pick up more shifts, and adjust schedules on their own. This allows your staff to feel more in control of their career and easily lets them reduce or increase their hours instantly from their phone.
Likewise, giving your staff more control over the schedule can make it easier on you and your management team, so you don't have to constantly adjust whenever someone requests a change in their hours. Your staff members can quickly confirm or update you about a shift in seconds, leaving you more time to focus on other priorities.
Automate Administrative Processes
Software that can improve your workforce management makes it easier for you to spend more time supporting your staff and addressing their needs and concerns. For instance, automation technology from SmartLinx lets you empower employees and give them more control of their personal data, freeing up administration and staff time. This allows your employees to focus on residents. You can also see your staff's attendance and easily monitor their overtime to manage costs and make informed decisions.
When it comes to management processes, a solution like SmartLinx can assist in tracking applications, job posting, and onboarding to streamline the entire hiring process. Automation can reduce the obstacles you face when hiring more staff to alleviate the shortage you might be experiencing. The Applicant Tracker even allows you to add pre-screening questions and post on your website or social media instantly, connecting you to more qualified nurses faster and easier.
Provide Same Day Pay
A great way to help reduce financial stress for your nursing staff is by offering same-day pay and flexible/catered payments to benefit nurses' irregular scheduling. With SmartLinx nurse management software, you can provide these options to your staff and allow them to access their pay much faster after their shift instead of waiting weeks to get paid. This may even encourage staff to take on more shifts or longer hours because they can receive the immediate benefit at the end of the day when they clock out.
Same-day pay benefits for nurses also help them stay on top of their bills and ensure they make ends meet. Whether they need to pay off a student loan or get their bills in order before their next paycheck arrives, allowing your staff to get paid in advance will help them budget and track spending and saving. Because many nurses don't work a typical 40-hour workweek, same-day pay makes it easier for them to see if they'll have a shortfall in their earnings and seek more shifts as needed.
Improve Conditions for Your Nurses With SmartLinx
In today's conditions, it's critical that your healthcare and nursing staff feel appreciated, valued, and supported. With an automated nursing software like SmartLinx, you can reduce the time your nurses spend on administrative tasks, give them more control and flexibility over their schedules, and ease their financial stress with same-day pay. By speeding up your existing processes and making them more efficient with easy-to-use, intelligent solutions, you can diminish the burden on your staff and let them spend more time with patients.
Investing in your nurses' well-being is essential to staff retention and satisfaction at your long-term care facility. While this solution can increase productivity and reduce labor costs, it will also help prevent burnout among your staff. Schedule a demo today, or contact us to learn more about our products, services, and solutions.