Report highlights disconnect between what nurses want and what hospitals offer

The findings highlight how hospitals could better compete for nurses.
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· 3 min read

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Almost every major health system in the US plans to prioritize hiring permanent staff over travel nurses as they look to fill “critical” staffing shortages, but not all are offering the benefits that would entice those nurses, according to a new analysis.

The findings from staffing company Incredible Health’s 2023 Healthcare Executive Report—which polled executives from 100 US hospitals and health systems in May—highlighted the disconnect between what nurses are looking for in employers, and what those employers are offering to hire and retain staff.

Closing that gap could be key for hospitals and other facilities, which are now competing for a relatively small pool of nurses amid staff shortages exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic.

“The results of this report underline what we have heard from nurses on Incredible Health: They want more flexibility, the ability to relocate, career advancement opportunities, and an array of perks and benefits,” Incredible Health CEO and co-founder Iman Abuzeid told Healthcare Brew. “The health systems that implement strategies that reflect the desires of nurses are the ones that are hiring more, seeing lower turnover rates, and increasing retention.”

Abuzeid added that Incredible hopes the findings will help healthcare leaders “embrace the opportunity to change their nurse hiring and retention methods to improve the nurse experience, and ultimately patient care.”

More than nine in 10 (94%) respondents described the nursing shortage in their health systems as “critical,” and 68% said they lacked adequate staff to manage another major health crisis, like the pandemic. Meanwhile, 96% of health system executives said they plan to prioritize permanent nurse hires over temporary staff.

But just 11% of health systems said they offer more flexible nursing schedules—despite 80% of younger nurses requesting that from employers, the report found.

Many health systems are also not prioritizing career advancement training and opportunities as a hiring and retention strategy—even as a quarter of nurses cited limited career advancement as a reason for why they would leave nursing prior to retirement, according to the report.

Hospital leaders told Incredible that health systems are more focused on compensation than flexibility as a hiring differentiator. And pay is still important when it comes to attracting and retaining nurses: Almost 80% of younger nurses and 48% of older nurses requested higher compensation, the report found.

Sign-on bonuses remained a top strategy for nurse recruitment; more than a third (35%) of hospital executives report offering them. About a quarter (26%) of hospital leaders said their recruitment efforts included higher salaries, and 16% said they used improved staffing ratios to attract talent.

Still, Incredible’s 2023 State of US Nursing Report—which was released in March—found that only a third of nurses felt they were fairly compensated.

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