Nurse turnover rates today are higher than they have ever been. In 2021, the turnover rate was almost 30%, an 8% increase from the previous year. With the continued struggles that the COVID-19 pandemic has brought, studies show it will climb by more than 15% in 2022.  


Aside from the increased workload that many have faced during the pandemic, why are so many nurses leaving? Most, upwards of 40% of those who leave, cite burnout as the cause. Other reasons include the pay, schedule, location, and desire for better career advancements and staffing ratios.


So, when we know what causes most turnover, it’s easier to implement certain practices in our own organizations to help prevent it! In this article, we’ll discuss seven different retention ideas for nurses.


Retention Ideas and Tips for Nurses 


  • Keep an open-door policy 

Having an open-door policy means that managers are always available to their staff, regardless of their positions or how “high up” they are. Research shows this approach improves communication and levels of trust between staff and management while also helping staff members feel more valued and heard, boosting morale throughout the unit. Establishing an open-door policy can also help management de-escalate issues like severe burnout, bullying amongst staff, and many other common causes of turnover before they worsen.


  • Support continuing education

All healthcare workers must complete continuing education to maintain their licenses. Sometimes this task can be tedious, but if the organization supports it with reimbursement, time off, and their own educational opportunities, that can drastically ease any stress brought on by the requirements. Continuous education also enhances staff skills and expertise, improving patient outcomes and, inevitably, job satisfaction for nurses. Reimbursing your nurses with time or money for what they spend on education helps them feel valued and like their career matters to you.


  • Offer emotional wellness and mental health support

Because burnout is the primary reason for high nurse turnover, healthcare facilities should provide all staff with emotional wellness and mental health support. Employees who feel supported in their mental health are 45% less likely to leave their jobs. Support groups and regular wellness or self-care workshops help promote a secure atmosphere within the unit. Modeling good self-care as a manager is also essential! Show your nurses that you care for yourself and support them when they care for themselves. 


  • Implement a clinical ladder program 

A clinical ladder program is a structured system that allows nurses to advance their careers while staying at the bedside. Studies show that a clinical ladder program benefits nurses, management, and the organization. Moving up the clinical ladder allows nurses to further their careers, receive more recognition and monetary compensation, and feel a sense of ownership in improving patient care. Nurses who move through the clinical ladder are usually happier in their jobs and dedicated to refining patient outcomes. A clinical ladder promotes employee engagement, which translates into improved staff retention, productivity, and job satisfaction.


  • Increase the pay 

Hospital nurses make an average of $75,000 per year as of 2020, while the average salary of a hospital physician is upwards of $180,00-200,000 per year. These salaries show a drastic difference in compensation while working in similar situations. Physicians will likely always be paid more due to their length of schooling and expertise, but the salary for nurses can be instrumental when facing high turnover rates. 


  • Create space for nurses to voice their concerns 

Whether through the open door policy, regular surveys, or frequent management assessments, allowing the nurses to voice their opinions, struggles, and suggestions will help them feel more involved in the unit’s functioning. When they feel like their opinions matter, job satisfaction increases. 


  • Do not play favorites 

Another common reason for leaving a job that nurses, and the general population, have identified is management. Having a fair manager who cares about every staff member equally is vital when assessing job satisfaction. Nurses with managers who “play favorites” or don’t treat everyone equally are more likely to leave their jobs. Creating a supportive and fair environment helps keep your nurses happy!



Develop a Strategy to Retain Your Nurses



Nurses work hard every day, and they care about their patients. When they work where they feel heard, supported, and valued, nurses are more likely to stay, and you’re more likely to spend less money and have better patient outcomes. Implement many of these tips regularly to optimize retention in your unit. 


Many of these are changes you can make NOW. Develop your strategy by implementing an open-door policy, and hear what your nurses think and say they need. Use these suggestions to personalize your approach. Over time, you can implement continuing education reimbursement, a clinical ladder program, and mental health support. Show all your employees you care about them and their ideas so that you can retain them.


About StaffGarden


StaffGarden is the leading digital healthcare platform focused on the clinical success of the professional clinician. Our flagship product is GROW, the only digital Clinical Ladder program on the market. In addition to Clinical Ladder, the platform supports career path development, Competency / Assessment tracking, peer and 360 review management, residency management support, and clinical project management for all types of clinical projects. To learn more about Staffgarden, check us out on LinkedIn and Facebook




Alison Shely, DNP, FNP-C


Alison Shely, DNP, FNP-C is a nurse practitioner, nurse coach, yoga teacher, and nurse writer who specializes in articles, blogging, and copy. She has been in nursing since 2014, working in intensive care, women’s health, and primary care as a registered nurse and family nurse practitioner. She has written for a variety of publications including, Moxie Scrubs, Aspen University, and more. She is also the winner of the 2020 Shift Report writing contest for Next Level Nursing. Her specialty topics include mental health, health and wellness, yoga philosophy and practice, and community health. She also serves as a mental health coach primarily to other nurses and healthcare workers concerning healthy lifestyles and mental health.