Healthcare News & Insights

How to retain baby boomer nurses during a nurse shortage

Much of the focus during the country’s nursing shortage has been on recruiting millennials and new graduates. But those recruitment efforts are only half the battle. Retaining baby boomer nurses who already have the skills and experience you want at your hospital should be a priority. In this guest post, Brian Hudson, senior VP of a company that specializes in the recruitment of internationally experienced registered nurses, explains how to keep baby boomer nurses at your organization.

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Healthcare facilities are struggling to attract and retain talent as the nationwide nurse shortage persists. The additional expected retirements from baby boomer nurses bring pressure to hospitals as they lose experienced staff members.

By 2030, almost one million nurses will retire and leave the workforce.

Attracting and retaining new graduate nurses have been expensive and challenging for hospitals. A 320-bed hospital in Kentucky reportedly increased its sign-on bonuses from $5,000 to $25,000 to recruit new nurses in 2017. However, there is an alternative solution to keep your nurses during the shortage. The answer: focus on retaining your baby boomer nurses.

At Avant Healthcare Professionals CNO Roundtable, nurse leaders suggested many solutions in addressing recruitment and retention of nurses. Shifting gears from recruiting new grad nurses to prolonging the departure of baby boomer nurses is a skillful tactic to use.

Incentivize boomers

Hospital leaders are so focused on retaining new nurses with various methods, they forget to leverage a powerful tool they already have. Offering incentives to loyal employees to stay with the organization longer is a great way to bridge staffing gaps at the facility.

Giving baby boomer nurses flexibility in their jobs is a must to keep them invested in staying with the organization.

Nurse leaders at the CNO Roundtable shared ways in which they offer incentives to their baby boomer nurses to prolong their departure into retirement:

  • Offer shorter shifts at higher wages to fill in the open gaps in scheduling.
  • Allow baby boomer nurses to have priority over what holidays they want to work and which ones they want off.
  • Allow nurses to self-schedule their shifts. If they create their schedule, they feel involved and in control of their work/life.
  • Establish a weekend only program where seasoned nurses volunteer to work Saturday and Sunday shifts, and they can get most of the weekdays off.
  • Offer 4 – 6-hour shifts for seasoned nurses. This will increase the likelihood of them going in on their days off to help.
  • Offer bonuses to nurses as an incentive to stay with the organization longer if they plan on retiring soon.

Focusing on recruiting new nurses remains the standard in alleviating staff shortages, but it’s important to know that hospital leaders can maximize the resources of their current nurses through strong incentive programs. What are some of the tactics that your hospital uses to leverage existing staffing resources?

Brian Hudson is the senior VP at Avant Healthcare Professionals, which specializes in the recruitment of internationally experienced registered nurses.

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