Understanding workplace appreciation for nurses and health professionals to lower burnout and improve nurse retention strategies

Executive Summary 

During Nurses Week and all year long, it’s important to recognize the nurses in the trenches caring for our communities and show them the appreciation they deserve to keep them on staff. New data from Medely’s Nurses Sentiment Survey shows just how important that is to these health professionals. 

This is especially true in this current healthcare climate, where pervasive stress, exhaustion, and burnout are impacting nurses in every age group all over the country. In a 2023 survey from the American Nurses Foundation, 69% of nurses 25 and under, 72% of nurses ages 25-34, and 64% of nurses ages 35-44 are experiencing some level of burnout. 

The high rates of burnout are leading to more nurses leaving their jobs, causing more staffing shortages. As this cycle continues, facilities and staff are struggling to fill their shifts and ensure they have the skilled, experienced nurses they need to handle patient demand. 

Medely conducted the Nurses Sentiment Survey with the goal of understanding what nurses most value at work in order to provide healthcare leaders with the information they need to show appreciation to their staff and lower burnout, exhaustion, and churn rates and improve their nurse retention strategies.

About the Nurses Sentiment Survey

Medely conducted an email survey of nurses and allied health professionals nationwide. The survey of these active health professionals in Medely’s network aimed to understand what they most value at work and how healthcare facilities can improve their nurse retention strategies and show them appreciation in the workplace. Medely received nearly 750 responses between April 16 and April 22, 2024.

According to the survey, most nurses value when the facilities they work for show them appreciation. They also value work flexibility, compensation, and easy-to-use technology when booking a shift with a facility. When asked about the best ways facilities have shown them appreciation, and nurses who responded to the survey noted that hearing “a simple thank you” or having facilities “say thank you” was something they valued the most, along with gifts/gift cards, bonuses, and free lunch/food. 

Most have felt “exhausted” in their jobs within the last year, with the majority citing lack of staff coverage at the facilities where they work as the cause. The respondents say that choosing to work per diem shifts helps them achieve work-life balance.

Survey Results

Burnout and staffing shortages

percentage of nurses who have felt overwhelmed or exhausted at work and nurse retention strategies to help combat
  • 60% of respondents said they felt overwhelmed or exhausted at work within the last year. 
  • Over half said not enough staff coverage was the cause of this exhaustion (56.2%), with other respondents choosing patient ratios (22.7%), the surge in cases (12.2%), and “other” (35.3%).

While the percentage of nurses and health professionals who have felt exhausted at work peaked during the pandemic, this information shows that stress and exhaustion are still prevalent today as healthcare workers continue to feel overworked and overwhelmed. 

With the majority of respondents noting that staffing shortages are causing their exhaustion, it’s important for healthcare facilities to take into account how often they are leaning on overtime for coverage and start thinking about how they can introduce per diem nurses for the first time or more often to help support their full-time staff. Adding more staff to fill those gaps can even help increase employee morale: learn more in our customer testimonial from Exceptional Community Hospital-Maricopa.

Workplace values and appreciation

Nurse Retention Strategies show that 60% of nurses say its important for an employer to show appreciation
  • 60% of survey respondents said it’s important that a hospital or facility shows appreciation to their nurses.
  • All 730 respondents ranked workplace appreciation, competitive compensation, shift flexibility, and a manageable workload with equal importance:
    • When asked, “Rank workplace appreciation, competitive compensation, shift flexibility, and a manageable workload in order of importance when choosing an employer with “5” being most important and “1” being least important, each were ranked with around the same average: workplace appreciation (2.4), competitive compensation (2.45), shift flexibility (2.46), and a manageable workload (2.68).

Many healthcare facility leaders tasked with recruiting and building nurse retention strategies are wondering, what makes nurses tick? What can our facility do to attract skilled, experienced nurses and keep them coming back again and again? The answer: show them appreciation and offer them flexibility, competitive compensation, and a manageable workload. All of these elements were ranked with high importance from our survey respondents. 

This is particularly true with the younger generation of nurses coming into the workforce. As the Baby Boomer generation of nursing staff starts to retire, it’s important to consider what’s important for these younger nurses and health professionals. As a generation, Gen Z is leading the charge on protecting mental health, advocating for work-life balance and workplace flexibility, and this mindset applies more than ever to those working in the healthcare field as well.

How to show nurses appreciation: Give gifts or gift cards

  • The top answer when asked, “what are the best ways facilities have shown you appreciation?” was gifts or gift cards, followed by bonuses, compensation, or money and free food or meals. 
    • 172 respondents said “gifts,” 74 said “gift cards”
    • 91 respondents said “bonuses”, 32 said “compensation”, 20 said “money.”
    • 77 respondents said “lunch”, 54 said “food,” 18 said “meals.”
    • 56 respondents said, “thank you” or saying “thank you.”

This is important information for facilities to consider. Of course nurses want to feel valued at work, and they appreciate gifts, bonuses and free food, but many of them also want verbal validation that they are doing a good job for your patients and your facility. Many respondents said “a simple thank you” “saying thank you” or variations of “telling me thank you at the end of the day or shift” lets them know that they are making a difference and making all their hard work worthwhile.

Work-life balance and flexibility 

Nurse Retention Strategies show that 55% of nurses say work flexibility is important when choosing an employer
  • 55% of respondents said work flexibility is important when choosing an employer.
  • A whopping 96% said that working per diem shifts help them achieve work-life balance.

Traditionally, both nurses and healthcare facilities were posting and seeking only full-time opportunities. But now that there has been a shift in values at work and nurses feel empowered to make their own flexible schedules and earn on their terms, per diem nursing has become a stable career choice that allows many nurses to work how they want, when they want, and bring in a steady income. According to our survey, it also helps nurses feel like they can achieve work-life balance. 

Check out our
video featuring Leah Coaxum, RN, a med surg nurse per diem nurse who says that per diem nursing has given her complete autonomy over her schedule, flexibility, and an increased hourly rate.

Competitive compensation

Nurse Retention Strategies show that 75% of nurses say compensation is a motivator when booking a shift
  • Nearly 75% said compensation is a motivator when they’re looking to book a shift.

Our survey shows that compensation is very important to nurses. It motivates almost 75% of our respondents to pick a shift with one facility over another. That’s why Medely’s platform offers shifts with transparent rates so each nurse and health professional knows what they will get paid when they book a shift. 

Not only can per diem nurses increase their pay and use Medely to find and book shifts and make their schedule, but Medely’s network also includes travel nurses who take longer assignments and may travel a further distance within a given city or facility. They, too, are often motivated by a higher paycheck and will travel to explore new cities and new opportunities for more money. 

In some cases, per diem nurses and travel nurses have the opportunity to increase their pay more than if they were full-time staff. 

Easy-to-use technology 

  • 58% said easy-to-use technology like apps or software is important to them when choosing a marketplace to work with.

Facilities need to find ways to make it as easy as possible for nurses to book a shift and get to work with them, and easy-to-use technology is the best way for them to do that.  Streamlining the way health professionals are vetted by a facility and then brought into a new facility is the best way to quickly fill shifts and fill those gaps in coverage. With Medely’s app, nurses can find and book shifts, clock in and clock out, and get paid in one convenient place, and facilities can use the platform to do scheduling, time-tracking, credentialing, and billing, all in one place.

Providing what today’s nurses need and value

For nurses, it’s essential that healthcare facilities show gratitude and appreciation for nurses through gifts, bonuses, and gratitude, as well as offering essential intangibles like workplace flexibility, competitive compensation, and the ability to utilize easy-to-use tech platforms to book shifts and work on their terms.

As this younger generation moves into the workforce, elements such as work-life balance and flexible schedules will make all the difference for your nurse retention strategies and getting more nurses to stay with you over joining another facility. 

“These insights show that during Nurses Week and all year long, it’s important for healthcare facilities to show appreciation for their nurses to cultivate an environment where nurses feel valued. Medely is excited to celebrate National Nurses Week and continue to empower nurses and healthcare professionals earn more while experiencing the freedom and flexibility they deserve and help healthcare facilities find professionals to fill their gaps in coverage in order to stay on track with their financial goals, meet patient demand, and scale, grow, and streamline their operations.”

-Angie Nasr, Chief Nursing Officer, Medely

If you’re looking for flexibility and freedom in your schedule without the hang-ups, sign up to be a part of Medely here.

If you’re a facility looking for skilled, vetted, and credentialed per diem nurses to make an impact at your facility and keep coming back, get started with Medely here

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How to effectively combat healthcare labor shortages in 2024

Learn how to effectively combat healthcare labor shortages with an extended workforce to maintain continuity of care and gain access to tools you can use to manage your extended workforce more effectively and efficiently. In this eBook, you’ll learn:

  • ■ Why nurses are leaving full-time jobs behind.
  • ■ The factors impacting healthcare professional employment.
  • ■ How you can use an extended workforce to meet demand.
  • ■ How you can use data-led staffing planning to manage costs.

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