Nurses Leave Their Managers, Not Their Jobs

Turnover is costly in every profession, but in nursing it takes its toll. Not only financially, but it affects quality, safety, and service.  The 2020 NSI National Health Care Retention & RN Staffing Report, found that the average cost per nurse turnover is $44,000. A 1% reduction adds $306,000 to the bottom line. In spite of the financial drain, few hospitals have a well-defined retention strategy. 

Over several months in late 2019 and early 2020, I conducted a series of interviews with CNOs across the country to learn more about nurse turnover, its causes, impact, and solutions. Baird Group’s newest whitepaper, Nurse Turnover- Nurse Executives’ Perspectives on Causes and Solutions. summarizes the results. 

Strategies for Retention

Four main causes for turnover emerged with two standing out. The first, is weak leadership at the department level. The second is culture. The two go hand in hand. According to Gallup research: “Managers account for 70% of the variance in employee engagement. Their research also showed that engagement is higher among nurses who work for managers who practice authentic leadership and are, themselves, engaged in their work.” 

Managers play a significant role in the department culture. Many were promoted to management from clinical positions, without adequate managerial training. CNOs interviewed addressed this issue as a major downfall. They recognize that many managers lack the coaching, communication, and other leadership skills essential for high engagement, teamwork, and job satisfaction. 

One clear solution is to invest in leadership development for nurse managers. Be the Leader Nobody Wants to Leave – 8 Transformational Skill-builders for Busy Nurse Leaders is a virtual, blended learning approach. It hones leadership skills that matter most. Skill-building activities follow the learning modules, and include group and personal coaching. 

It’s fine to promote nurses from within, but give them the tools they need to succeed. It’s not fair to the manager or the nurses he/she leads to put them into leadership without the tools and adequate coaching.

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