Nurse burnout continues to hinder the healthcare system across care settings. Hospital margins are thinning, and allocating resources to nurse retention and engagement is imperative to offset the cost of losing nurses. The average cost of turnover for one bedside RN is $52,350 – which can add up to expenses between $6.6M-$10.5M, according to a recent retention and staffing report stating each percent change in RN turnover will cost/save the average hospital an additional $380,600/year.” In skilled nursing facilities, regulated staffing levels will likely impact quality care scores and reimbursements in the future. Staffing and reducing turnover are top of mind for healthcare leaders everywhere, even more so as they continue to look ahead to 2024.using-technology-to-combat-burnout-improve-nurse-retention

Overcoming Nurse Burnout

While the industry challenge of nurse burnout is clear, the right approach to ease nursesburden is harder to decipher. Staffing leaders must balance competing priorities, such as investing in expensive agency labor versus racking up internal hours and offering nurses more flexibility to choose the best shifts while ensuring every shift is filled.

Three themes are among the top strategies to address nurse burnout: improving communication, increasing flexibility, and supplementing staff.

1. Improving Communication Between Nurses and Managers

Many organizations need help in traditional staffing workflows, tediously tracking multiple spreadsheets or using one-by-one phone calls or text messages to make scheduling adjustments and fill last-minute openings. This approach is not just time-consuming; it’s disruptive, siloed, and does not take advantage of widely accepted and expected technology.

With healthcare workforce software to deploy one-to-many communications, nurse leaders can post shifts, set rules for shift selection, and relay scheduling needs quickly – for example, by implementing a first-come, first-served open shift approach or shift bidding based on seniority or other factors. This respects nursestime and frees up time for nurse leaders to focus on their teams growth and development, supporting operations, and improving patient care.

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2. Giving Nurses More Flexibility

More shifts are not the answer to nurse burnout – but more scheduling options could be. With real-time scheduling available at their fingertips, nurses have the necessary flexibility. More choice empowers them to select schedule changes that best fit their work-life balance. It gives nurses the freedom to trade shifts or take on open shifts and makes them feel like they have control over their schedule, motivating them to do their best work.

Greater scheduling flexibility can reduce the likelihood of no-shows or call-outs and reengage nurses in their work, preventing turnover. Meanwhile, nurse leaders can ensure these individual choices are made with commitment rules in mind by defining scheduling rules that make their staffing software work with their teams unique needs.

3. Supplementing Staff with Agency Nurses

For some healthcare leaders, agency staff can be an expensive response to reducing burnout and attrition. However, it could be the more affordable option in the long run. Compared to the cost of losing a nurse and the time it takes to hire a new nurse, the investment in supplemental agency staff could greatly outweigh the costs of staff turnover. If managed well, agency staff becomes an extension of the team – used as needed, but not the immediate response to every open shift.

At the core of all these decisions is data and using available technology. Schedulers must have confidence in who is doing what, when its happening, and where its taking place. Clear, at-a-glance staffing data differentiates between taking a one-size-fits-all approach and making appropriate staffing adjustments based on an organizations most significant contributors to burnout and resignations.
Accessible staffing data revenue objectives and organizational goals empower healthcare leaders to take a holistic approach. They can weigh their options and resources from a united front and choose investments to target specific challenges while understanding the impact this may have on another aspect of the organization.

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Smarter Planning Leads to Reduced Stress, Higher Satisfaction

While there are many options to address nurse burnout, one thing is clear: better staffing management is necessary. In fact, 57% of nurses planning to leave the workforce would reconsider returning to their position if their workplace implemented a more flexible approach to scheduling and shift management.

With data and a smart workforce management solution, staffing leaders can make thoughtful, more informed choices that fluctuate seamlessly with day-to-day, real-time scheduling needs. Nurses can impact their schedule and sign up for shifts that give them the best work-life balance through technology customized for their practice. Managers can refocus their time to make strategic staffing decisions. And ultimately, patients get high-quality, uninterrupted care.

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Julie Lambert
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