Nurse Retention: Impact From Workplace Environment Assessments

Monday, 30 October 2017

Rebecca Lucia Moore, MSN, BSN
Staff Development, UnityPoint Health-St. Luke's Hospital, Cedar Rapids, IA, USA

Scope: It is well documented the impact a work environment has on nursing professionals. To achieve the mission, vision, and values of UnityPoint Health-St. Luke’s Hospital, the Workforce Development team was tasked with addressing strategies focused on current and future nursing retention and recruitment initiatives.

Significance: The current turnover rate in UnityPoint Health-St. Luke’s is approximately 5% above the national average compared to other Magnet facilities. In order to optimize organizational performance and the Magnet culture, a practice environment assessment was completed. The assessment was used to identify areas of improvement and positively impact nursing satisfaction and retention.

Literature Review: The Workforce Development team investigated nursing skill mix, innovative care delivery models, ancillary staff training and scope of practice, retirement succession plans, and how to plan for the future. Upon review of the literature, the need to assess the current state was identified. Decreased nurse retention negatively impacts healthcare organizations due to the financial burden that follows along with decreased continuity, quality of care, and productivity (Buffington, Zwink, & Fink, 2012). The secondary turnover is also concerning because of the loss of nursing knowledge, skill, and organizational commitment (Buffington, Zwink, & Fink, 2012). These components continue to decrease job satisfaction, negatively impact the workplace environment, and drive higher rates of nursing turnover (Buffington, Zwink, & Fink, 2012). By assessing UnityPoint Health-St. Luke’s Hospital’s nursing environment, a strategic plan could be created to address nursing concerns.

Evaluation: With the approval of the Chief Nursing Officer (CNO), the team conducted unit-based assessments with the nursing staff through face-to-face interviews and anonymous feedback options. All shifts had the opportunity to provide feedback equally. An unbiased and anonymous environment for feedback was established. To prevent biased assessments or untrusting environments, team members interviewed nurses they did not directly work with. After completion of the environmental assessments, the Workforce Development team identified common themes that were shared with hospital administration and nursing leadership. After completion of the workplace environment assessment, five themes were identified as global opportunities for improvement: retirement, rewards and unique benefit options, professional development, professional recognition, and environmental safety. In addition to the global themes, unit specific trends and opportunities for improvement were shared with respective leadership. Global and unit specific opportunities of improvement were communicated to the respective nursing staff using a PowerPoint presentation. A PowerPoint presentation was used to ensure nursing staff would receive the same information regarding the themes identified and prevent miscommunication between team members and nursing leadership. Changes made based on feedback gathered during the assessment period guided by the Recruitment and Retention Council include: out-of-cycle RN market analysis and increase, physical safety improvements, funding for professional development and ongoing unit based improvements.