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Talent retention: save time, money, resources and improve patient care

Posted by: Lynn Sedgwick

Highly skilled healthcare professionals are your best asset, and finding the right individuals takes time and resources. This is why organisations need to consider the importance of retention, rather than just focusing on recruitment. 

A report published this year by the House of Commons Health Committee found that 8,000 more nurses had left the profession in 2016/17 compared with the same period in 2012/13. Holding onto your nurses doesn’t just make financial sense, it boosts morale and the overall standard of service too. 

Cost of recruitment

Recruiting new nurses is a cost to your organisation. According to research published by Glassdoor, the average time it takes to hire a new recruit in the U.K. is 27.5 days. This means one-twelfth of a year spent on reviewing CVs, carrying out preliminary interviews, secondary interviews, communicating with recruiters and checking references. Factor in multiple hires, and that figure increases significantly. 

Considering the amount of resource, time, money and effort hiring takes, it’s evident that concentrating efforts on retention becomes far more beneficial.

It’s never too early to think about retention

Onboarding is key to retaining nursing talent. Yes, of course, it’s more efficient to retain existing talent than recruit new talent, but sometimes a new hire is what your organisation needs. Even before they start, a new employee needs to feel looked after – keeping in touch regularly and sending a welcome pack that outlines expectations, shares staff success stories and provides practical information creates a positive first impression and helps to settle your new team member.  

Glassdoor reports that average hiring times are getting longer, so, if your candidate meets the job requirements and is a good fit for your team, consider making them an immediate offer after the interview, ensuring they feel valued right from the start. 

Management is your best defence against attrition

When healthcare professionals feel secure and supported at work they are less likely to look elsewhere. This is especially relevant if your team includes students or recent graduates. Nurses that have qualified within the last five years are most prone to leave the profession and one in four students drop out of their nursing degree before graduating. Extra guidance may be required in order to support and retain nurses with less experience. 

Management must demonstrate excellent leadership skills, this doesn’t mean just delegating work it means having well-rounded soft skills too. If you want to keep hold of your nurses then you must also encourage them to manage themselves and to be invested in their careers. Keep in touch with staff through formal appraisals, informal and open discussions and put the ball in their court. If they feel that they have a say in their own work and career they’ll be more engaged and more likely to stick around.

Support and training

These two words are the most important words in your vocabulary if you’re going to successfully retain staff. If your nurses don’t have what they need to do the job effectively – whether that’s equipment, support, or correct staffing levels – then they won’t stay, meaning an already challenging situation will become worse. 

Budget can be a problem when it comes to training, so if it doesn’t meet your nurses’ expectations, it’s important to remain supportive if they choose to pursue further education and to leave the door open. Wherever possible, investing in your people shows that you’re dedicated to them and increases commitment from them in return. Findings from the University of Aberdeen suggest that being undervalued is more stressful to nurses than their work. Appreciation and a heartfelt thank you cost nothing and can go a long way to showing your nurses that you value them.

Recruitment costs vs. benefits

Recruitment takes time, effort and resources. There’s no denying that the right hire at the right time can make a huge difference to the organisation, yet a revolving door of talent increases the cost of recruitment exponentially. Retention starts to look a lot more appealing if you weigh the cost of recruitment against the benefits of retaining staff. Time spent training and looking after your best talent will pay you back dividends, with happier healthcare staff you’ll have happier patients, and your organisation will be all the more competitive. 

If you enjoyed reading this blog you might like our other post: Nursing talent drought: How to attract the best talent against the odds.

And if you’re recruiting now you can talk to one of the team on 01772 259 121, or register your vacancy online.

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