Front-line Managers: The Missing Link Between A Positive Work Environment & Staff Retention

In our blogs, we have explored several different aspects of the high employee turnover rates that have been affecting hospital performance in recent years. And while turnover is unusually high right now across industries due to exceptionally low unemployment rates, healthcare has been disproportionately negatively impacted by recent employment rates due to an already serious nursing shortage. That is why we are so serious about providing resources for managers and leaders to help foster the kind of work environments that employees don’t want to leave so they can retain good nurses and in turn provide the highest quality care possible.
Admittedly, the term fostering a positive work environment can seem a bit broad and daunting. After all, this isn’t Disneyland but rather we are talking about creating a supportive environment in hospitals for nurses who are helping people through what is often part of the scariest time of a person or a family member’s lives.
This is where front-line managers come in. According to research published in, Nursing Unit Managers, Staff Retention and Work Environment, the most significant contributing factor for whether or not nurses stayed in their position over a 2-year period was how well they felt their managers supported them. This is evidenced by the fact that “One factor which has been identified as being critical to a positive work environment is the role of nurse leaders. [Researchers] found significant differences for perceptions of supervisor support between RNs who left their position during a 24-month period and those who stayed in their position. RNs who reported higher levels of supervisor support were less likely to leave their unit or hospital than were RNs who reported lower levels of supervisor support”1. To add to that, the study identified 7 key areas that nurses viewed strong leaders as being highly competent in:

  • Visibility
  • Accessibility
  • Open discussion/consultative leadership approach
  • Support of nurses in the provision of quality care through high standards
  • Flexible scheduling
  • Strong relationships with staff
  • Giving recognition when due1

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