By Heather Kelsey, BSN, RN
The high volume of Americans who have quit their jobs since last year has been popularly coined as “the Great Resignation,” and the health care industry has been hit especially hard. According to Morning Consult, 18% of health care workers have quit their jobs during the pandemic, and 19% of those who have kept their jobs have considered leaving.
Nurses make up a large bulk of those leaving due to extreme stress and burnout, which has been exacerbated by the pandemic. Turnover is higher than ever, particularly for those nurses in the first year on the job. Though the outlook seems bleak, it doesn’t have to be. More and more health care organizations are seeking solutions to increase the sense of belonging and job satisfaction that are the building blocks of retaining valuable and talented nurses and attracting new ones to the field.
Flexibility is key.
The past two years have been particularly challenging for nurses, causing many to re-evaluate their careers. Those remaining in the field are seeking more flexible options that afford them the opportunity to continue doing what they love, while also enjoying a better work-life balance. Providers that can offer flexible staffing models and virtual work options are appealing to more nurses who need a break from the prolonged stress of their current work environment.
At Conduit Health Partners, we have a 100% virtual workforce. Some of our nurses are equipped to virtually augment bedside nurses while others use their clinical expertise to support our clients in many ways. This is not only an appealing option for our nurses who can continue serving in a meaningful capacity that offers them more flexibility, but it takes a big strain off bedside nurses who can focus more on direct patient care because they are receiving virtual support.
The organization’s leaders play a critical role in a nurse’s perceptions, attitudes and beliefs toward a job. Leaders should be accessible and approachable and demonstrate that they are listening and taking steps to improve when necessary. Communication from leaders should be frequent, and easy and open channels of communication should be readily available for questions and feedback. Leaders who simply take time to get to know their teams by talking with them and listening can have a profound impact.
Like many organizations, Conduit’s team members come together virtually, but there are many tools we use to keep our teams and leadership connected. Technology allows us to frequently check in and keep the lines of communication open.
It starts with onboarding.
Whether a nurse is hired for the bedside or for virtual care, they need to have clear expectations of what their role will be, and an effective onboarding process is crucial to this. Onboarding is essentially an organization’s first impression, and it’s a critical opportunity to put nurses on a path for success with the right training, resources and mentors. The onboarding process should also involve key leaders who promote a supportive culture by participating and interacting with new hires. A successful onboarding process sets the foundation for a nurse’s experience and can help overall engagement and retention efforts.
Two of our key priorities during the onboarding process at Conduit are providing ample and valuable shadow opportunities for nurses to confidently assimilate in their roles and collaborating regularly with our onboarding and training partners to continuously build on and improve the new hire experience.
Commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion.
Associates in every industry are seeking workplace environments that promote diversity and inclusion. The nursing field is becoming more diverse, and employers must focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion as ethical and business imperatives and priorities. At Conduit, we are implementing education and engagement strategies and initiatives that drive diversity and inclusiveness within all aspects of our operations. As we honor the many differing backgrounds and experiences of our workforce, we are also taking opportunities to celebrate them.
About the Author
Heather Kelsey is the Director of Triage & Virtual Care at Conduit Health Partners. In her role, Heather is responsible for strategic and operational leadership, day-to-day management, and oversight of Conduit Health Partners’ Nurse Triage and Virtual Care Center teams. She also collaborates with other Conduit leaders to develop new strategic services and process improvement strategies.
Learn more about Heather here.