Boosting Nurse Retention: Proven Strategies to Create a Thriving Nursing Staff

Struggling with nurse retention? Discover proven strategies to create a thriving nursing staff by empowering nurse managers and fostering a culture of support.
By focusing on core needs, nurse managers can create a work environment that empowers their team, increases engagement, and ultimately reduces burnout and turnover.

Did you know that strong nurse manager practices can significantly reduce burnout and increase retention? In today's healthcare landscape, retaining skilled and dedicated nurses is more critical than ever. 

Studies show that burnout among nurses has increased by a staggering 400% since 2019. This alarming trend translates into a real crisis. According to The National Council of State Boards of Nursing, 100,000 nurses left the profession during the pandemic, and an additional 800,000 are projected to leave by 2027. 

The nurse retention crisis has resulted in major costs for healthcare organizations, as well. According to the 2024 NSI National Health Care Report, the average hospital loses $3.9 – $5.8 million annually due to nurse turnover.

The consequences are far-reaching. They directly impact patient care, increase hospital costs, and strain the well-being of the remaining nursing workforce. Nurses need our help more than ever!

Fortunately, there are effective strategies healthcare organizations can implement to create a more supportive environment and keep their valuable nurses engaged.

Empowering Nurse Managers: The Key to Retention

Strong and supportive managers are crucial for fostering a work environment that promotes nurse well-being and combats burnout. While they can't control the job's inherent demanding nature, they can provide support that empowers their team and creates a sense of purpose.

The Job Demands-Resources (JD-R) Model highlights the importance of resources in mitigating the negative impact of demanding workloads. Even in high-pressure environments, nurses who feel supported and have access to the right resources experience lower stress and higher levels of engagement.

The question then becomes: what are the "right" resources, and how can nurse managers utilize them most effectively?

The Power of Self-Determination Theory (SDT)

Self-Determination Theory (SDT) is a well-established framework in behavioral science that offers valuable insights into employee motivation and well-being.  According to SDT, three core psychological needs are essential for fostering intrinsic motivation and job satisfaction:

  1. Autonomy: The feeling of control and influence over one's work.
  2. Mastery: The sense of competence and growth in one's skills.
  3. Connection: The feeling of belonging and being valued as part of a team.

The Joint Commission and the Surgeon General have endorsed SDT as a framework for promoting workplace well-being and combating nurse burnout. Research has shown that when nurses experience strong support for these core needs from their direct managers, the results are significant:

  • Burnout improves by 83%.
  • Retention improves by 92%.
  • Commitment to patient care improves by 87%.

Related Page: Nurse Burnout Relief Program E-Book 

Proven Strategies for Nurse Managers

By focusing on these core needs, nurse managers can create a work environment that empowers their team, increases engagement, and ultimately reduces burnout and turnover.

Here are three proven strategies nurse managers can implement to support each core experience:

  1. Autonomy (“I Believe”)

  • Active Listening: Make a conscious effort to truly hear your nurses' ideas and concerns. Ask open-ended questions, paraphrase their thoughts to ensure understanding, and show genuine interest in their perspectives.
  • Delegation and Decision-Making: Empower your team by delegating tasks whenever possible. Involve nurses in decision-making processes that directly impact their work, such as scheduling or workflow changes.
  • Choice and Flexibility: When possible, offer flexible options when scheduling shifts or assigning duties. This could involve allowing nurses to express preferences for specific patient populations or skill sets they want to utilize.

The key to supporting your team’s autonomy is listening, understanding, and being interested in your team’s perspectives and experiences.

  1. Mastery (“I Succeed”)

  • Growth Mindset: Encourage your team to view challenges as opportunities for learning and development. Celebrate progress, focusing on effort and improvement over perfection.
  • Informational Feedback: Provide clear, specific, and regular feedback focused on helping nurses grow their skills and knowledge. This type of feedback should be solution-oriented and delivered in a constructive manner.
  • Mentorship and Development: Invest in your team's professional development by offering opportunities for mentorship, skill-building workshops, and participation in conferences.

You can best support your team’s mastery by ‘moving the slider’ on challenges according to how much progress nurses can confidently achieve.

  1.  Connection (“I Belong”)
  • Open Communication: Create a safe space for nurses to voice concerns and offer suggestions without fear of judgment. Provide regular feedback and actively listen to their input.
  • Team Building Activities: Foster a sense of belonging by organizing team-building activities or social events. These activities can help build trust and strengthen relationships among team members.
  • Recognition and Appreciation: Acknowledge and appreciate your team's hard work and accomplishments. This can be done through verbal praise, written recognition programs, or even small gestures of appreciation.

Well-being and engagement are strongly linked to how your staff feels about your relationship in the workplace, creating a positive environment for everyone.

Taking Action: Investing in Your Nurses is an Investment in Patient Care

Ultimately, retaining your skilled and dedicated nurses is not just about staff satisfaction; it's about patient care. Studies have shown a direct correlation between nurse burnout and patient safety. 

By creating a supportive work environment that addresses the core needs of autonomy, mastery, and connection, healthcare organizations can empower their nursing staff, reduce burnout, and improve patient outcomes.

Empower Nurse Managers with the Tools and Training They Need From Immersyve Health

Are you ready to build a thriving nursing team? Start by exploring Immersyve Health’s On-Demand Nurse Manager Training, which is packed with practical strategies for supporting your nurses and building a culture of excellence. 

If you have questions or need more information, book a call with one of our health experts. By investing in your nurses, you're investing in the future of healthcare delivery!

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Top Insights

Check out the latest resources to help you improve burnout, retention, and engagement
Enhancing Healthcare Well-being: A Strategy for a Healthier Workplace
The Power of Self-Determination Theory in Healthcare
Nurse Retention and Burnout Prevention: Expert Insights on Cultivating a Resilient Team
Boosting Nurse Retention: Proven Strategies to Create a Thriving Nursing Staff
Nurse Burnout Relief Program eBook