Congratulations, you’re engaged! You feel connected, supported, appreciated, and heard—happy to put your energy into a relationship that promises positive returns.
Shouldn’t that be how nurses feel at work? They’re saying “I do” to delivering excellent care to their patients and helping their hospitals enhance HCAHPS patient satisfaction scores—both of which will help bolster those hospitals’ bottom lines. So often, though, they say they feel the opposite.
To be fair, engagement can be a fuzzy concept. To some it conjures diamond rings and honeymoons. For healthcare executives, it’s a bottom-line imperative. And for those in the healthcare delivery and patient-care trenches—nurses—it comes down to “a positive, fulfilling state of mind about work that is characterized by vigor, dedication, and absorption,” as we defined it in our new white paper on the topic.
There is a common thread across all lines though: commitment. It’s the kind of pledge that comes when all parties’ needs are being met. And that’s when there’s real cause for celebration. In the case of nursing, there are five great reasons for healthcare executives to celebrate engagement and be aware of what could threaten it:
- Your organization is saving money! Studies show that preventing just one nurse from leaving can save a hospital roughly $140,000 every year, as long as they’re following recommended nurse-patient staffing ratios. It costs a lot to recruit, orient, and train a new nurse. There’s also the lower productivity to factor in as a new nurse gets up to speed. Recruiting just one new RN can cost $82,000. If that’s not reason enough to pay attention to retention, consider the case of one 9,000-person healthcare organization that recorded losses of $15 million per year due to nurse turnover.
- Your staffing ratios and scheduling system are working! When nurses are asked what affects their job satisfaction, working conditions and schedules top the list. No surprise. Overtime gets old, especially when it feels like there’s no end in sight. Reports show that nurses who work more than 12 hours per shift and 40 hours in a week are more prone to job dissatisfaction and turnover. Robbing Peter to pay Paul by floating nurses from one specialty area to plug holes in another only makes matters worse. Nurse managers, struggling to meet executive demands, prevent staff burnout, and ensure excellent patient care, are stretched too thin, buried with approving scheduling changes, managing time-off requests, and adjusting staffing levels. Technology can lighten the load for everyone, pairing nurse preferences, availability, and skill sets with staffing needs as they arise. Tools like NurseGrid Manager were built to do just that.
- You’ve spent (at least part of) your budget on the right tools—tools that make everybody more committed! Employee engagement studies at hospitals reveal that nurses often feel they don’t have the materials, equipment, and technology to do their jobs right—and stay sane. What happens if something pressing comes up in their personal lives and they need to find a qualified colleague to swap with to ensure the right patient care is provided in their stead? Do they have a quick and easy way to communicate with colleagues and managers? And to receive a response or approval back from their manager quickly, without having to go into their workplace to check a piece of paper? How do they know they’re being heard and supported? A mobile app like NurseGrid Mobile is ideal for that. And effective staffing and scheduling software like NurseGrid Manager can save facilities significant money on things like over- and under-staffing, expired credentials, and overtime.
- Patient satisfaction scores are up! Nurses have the greatest impact on the patient experience and, as a result, patient satisfaction scores. Given new reports that only 251 hospitals in the U.S. have earned 5-star ratings in HCAHPS surveys, more attention needs to be given to those on the front lines. Reports show that when a less-than-engaged nurse has a poor interaction with a patient, the patient’s whole care experience is easily tainted, regardless of his or her health outcome.
- Mortality rates are down! A recent study showed that nurse engagement is the primary predictor in mortality variation across hospitals. Nurses are key to keeping physicians, patients, and systems on the same page. Kaiser Permanente sets a high bar here, investing in ways to make it easier for nurses to do their jobs, empowering them to make decisions, and lowering the patient-to-nurse ratio. Mortality rates are 20 percent lower in Kaiser hospitals, a statistic they attribute to nursing staff.
Is it time to start planning an engagement party where you work? We’d love to hear what’s working for you and what you think of the whole concept (even if that means cake and champagne). And if you’re looking for more ideas about ways to engage nurses, check out our new white paper.