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7 Reasons Why Great Healthcare Employees Leave

Posted by: Lynn Sedgwick

The UK nursing staff shortage currently stands at 40,000. It is no secret that healthcare organisations across the country are struggling to attract and retain the staff they so vitally need.

Any organisation that struggles with recruiting feels it at every level, but none more so than in healthcare. We have all personally experienced or seen the impact that healthcare staff shortages are having and the effect on patients and residents in social care settings. Ultimately, human lives are at stake.

This is why it is so crucial for healthcare organisations to retain the staff they have.

In this article, we discuss the seven reasons healthcare employees are leaving their jobs this year.


1. The Hours Are Too Long

One of the main anxieties that healthcare workers have about their job is that the hours are longer than many other professions. Twelve-hour days are standard, and even then, it may not be just twelve hours. Due to staff shortages, they are often expected to or asked to work beyond their scheduled home time to carry out life-saving work.

How can a healthcare worker be expected to leave during the middle of an operation or routine just because the clock has ticked over their finish time?

Well, of course, they don’t. If this happens consistently, it can begin to create feelings of frustration, making them feel undervalued and unappreciated, which in turn can cause employees to start the search for a different job.


2. Heavy Workloads

On top of the long hours, many healthcare workers are faced with unmanageable workloads while they are at work, which is a direct result of understaffing problems.

Often there may be only one qualified nurse to look after an entire ward, supported by two healthcare assistants, for a whole night shift. What happens when they are called to an emergency, or 3 out of 20 patients need attention and a fourth presses the ‘need assistance button’.

There aren’t enough staff to go around, making their ‘to-do’ list impossible.

Healthcare workers choose their profession because they care and want to take care of patients. When they are not able to do this in a way they believe they should and to professional standards, it can create feelings of inadequacy; that they aren’t doing their job ‘properly’ which leads to frustration and demotivation.


3. A Rising Demand for Care

As well as extended hours and unmanageable workloads due to staff shortages, the nature of the work nurses is expected to carry out has changed dramatically in just a few years.

With obesity in the UK at it’s highest ever level and an ageing population, nurses and healthcare workers are expected to do more heavy lifting than ever before.

Research suggests that back problems from lifting are the most common cause of injury to nurses. Not having the time or any other help available, many nurses each year injure their back and other joints trying to lift patients, leaving them either disgruntled and unhappy with the job or too injured to carry on working.


4. Too Much Responsibility

Because of the high demands on healthcare staff and the lack of time and resources they have available to them, many healthcare workers find that they must take on responsibilities which are above what should generally be expected of them.

Many people feel uncomfortable with this because not only do they have to rely on their limited medical knowledge when they should have help from a superior, it leads them to think ‘why am I doing this job when I’m not being paid at this level?’


5. Damage to Wellbeing

It will come as no surprise that nurses and other healthcare staff are all too aware of the negative impacts of a poor, overworked lifestyle.

With nursing comes all the things that healthcare workers advise their own patients against – working too hard for too long, grabbing junk food when they are on the go, not being able to relax and switch off properly when they finally do get home from work.

All these factors can impact a health workers physical and mental health. Burnout can come in all shapes and sizes. Some healthcare staff have breakdowns because of the amount of pressure they are under; others see their physical health deteriorate.


6. Non-Flexible Hours

In many other sectors, companies are starting to realise how offering flexible working hours benefit both the staff and the business. Gone are the days of having to accept a 9-5 working day.

Nurses look longingly at their friends and peers who are increasingly offered flexible working hours and days, no night shifts and even longer breaks for sabbaticals. This level of flexibility is rare in many healthcare organisations and is contributing to the many reasons why staff are leaving at an alarming rate.


7. Poor Culture Fit

As we mentioned earlier, there are a vast number of vacancies in today’s candidate-led healthcare job market, meaning the power is in the candidate’s hands.

Increasingly, staff are looking for a good culture fit in their place of work as much as they care about salary and benefits packages.

Likewise, some workers are willing to endure long hours in a hectic hospital if they enjoy the atmosphere, get along with their colleagues and feel as though their work is appreciated by their manager. Cultivating a good organisational and departmental culture is probably the best way to retain staff, especially if this is one of the only things you can change in your organisation.

Currently, you may not be able to reduce staff shortages as quick as your organisation would like or reduce the hour's staff work.

However, what senior leaders in healthcare organisations can do is ensure that staff feel valued, appreciated and integral to the team. They can recognise successes and share the burden when ‘crises’ arise. They can listen and take time to understand the frustrations healthcare workers face every day. Knowing your manager takes time to listen can mean the difference between a person staying and looking for a role elsewhere.


Next Steps

If it’s time for you to make a change in our healthcare career and you would value a conversation about how we can help, call one of the Clayton Recruitment Team on 01772 259 121 and let’s explore your options.




Clayton Recruitment has been partnering with organisations across the country since 1989 and during that time has built up an enviable reputation for trust and reliability.

With specialist divisions covering Commercial, Financial, Industrial Nursing, and Engineering appointments, on both a permanent and temporary basis. If you are looking for your next career move, we can help. Call us on 01772 259 121 or email us here.

If you would like to download our latest interview checklist, you can do so here.

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