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How to Improve Nurse Retention Rates from Day One

You’ve likely heard the old adage “you never get a second chance to make a first impression.” Now science says you may only get one-tenth of a second to make a favorable impression on someone during your initial meeting. In the blink of an eye, the person you’re meeting may judge whether or not you’re professional, trustworthy or competent.

When you hire a nurse, your organization may get more than one-tenth of a second to make an impression, but a poor onboarding experience can lead some employees to plan an exit strategy during the first week they start work. Think about that. All the money you expended to recruit, hire and train a nurse could be wasted within days if your onboarding process fails to meet the new hire’s needs.

And it’s not only the recruitment and retention budget that takes a hit from poor nurse onboarding procedures. A poor onboarding experience can reduce nurse engagement, leading to poorer care quality and low patient experience scores.


Improve Your Nurse Onboarding Process and Watch Retention Rates Soar

Thankfully, you can take concrete steps to improve your nurse onboarding process to retain new hires longer, increase engagement and improve nurse leadership in your hospital or health system. You can start by changing your mindset about what nurse onboarding really is.

Onboarding should not be confused with ‘orientation.’ New nurse orientation includes components like signing up for health insurance and obtaining an access badge from security. Orientation also might include walking through the unit to meet fellow nurses and locate the supply closet.

A true onboarding experience, on the other hand, should immerse newly hired nurses in your organizational culture. For example, if your hospital cites its shared governance structure during recruitment, then you can demonstrate your commitment to nurse leadership by giving new hires some ownership of the onboarding process.

That’s an approach Indiana University Health took. As the organization’s executive vice president, COO and interim chief nurse executive, Michelle Janney, PhD, RN, explained to Becker’s Hospital Review:

“We reinvented our onboarding program about a year ago […]. We removed the reteaching and competency checklists, except those required by regulatory bodies. The program now focuses on nurses doing a self-assessment and having ownership of their orientation progress. Our learning is very individualized based on what they need. We also changed our orientation validation tool to really focus on application of the nursing process to patient care and not just the tasks.”

Onboarding Components that May Improve Retention

Your onboarding process offers the ideal venue to communicate your organization’s commitment to nurse autonomy and leadership – two factors that generally correlate to better engagement and nurse retention. Be sure to communicate not only what you’re doing now for nurses, but what you plan to improve or expand in the future, including elements like:

By communicating future plans, you demonstrate to newly hired nurses that you value a dynamic workplace that constantly evolves to better meet the needs of staff. That sort of positive nursing culture can lead to high retention rates.

Make ShiftWizard Part of Your Onboarding Process

During your onboarding process, be sure to inform nurses about your dynamic scheduling solution that allows them to choose the shifts that work best for them – and to sign up right from their cell phone. The convenience and autonomy of scheduling with ShiftWizard appeals to all staff nurses, and it enables managers to fill shifts quickly, with just a few mouse clicks.

Contact us today for a demonstration of how ShiftWizard can make scheduling a breeze for staff and managers alike – leading to better retention rates.

Healthcare Staff Scheduling. Developed by Nurses for Nurses.

ShiftWizard makes nurse scheduling and communication easy, so you can focus on what really matters—improving patient outcomes.