Break Room

7 free things hospital admin can do to improve nurse morale and retention


Thinkstock / stokkete

Thinkstock / stokkete

Brittney from The Nerdy Nurse knows that at least some of the problems in her unit and hospital come straight from the top.

And while many admin might argue that any significant changes to better a hospital and/or the working lives of nurses would come with a big price tag, she knows at least seven free things that could do a whole lot of good.

We wanted to share some of her thoughts with you today and find out what you think YOUR hospital should be doing to improve morale, boost retention and help your team do their jobs better!

According to a fact sheet on the nursing shortage presented by the American Associate of Colleges of Nursing, healthcare is one sector of the job market that continues to grown, despite tough economic times. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics states that 283,000 jobs have been added in just the last year alone. In fact, even with the staggering levels of unemployment, nursing jobs sit open.

If you are looking to put a dollar amount of the cost of low moral, here it is for you. $2,821. Nearly $3000 in healthcare costs if your healthcare organization has to hire a new employee because one finally became bitter, disgruntled, or devalued enough to make a move, either to another facility, or perhaps even another profession all together.

But there are some very easy and free (that’s right, for profits, you heard me – FREE) ways that hospitals and other healthcare organizations can improve moral and retention among nursing staff.

1. Say “thank you.” 

This may seem self-explanatory, but often it is entirely forgotten. There are going to be times of high stress, acuity, and census in healthcare. It is often unavoidable and sometimes nurses may need to work extra shifts and longer hours. There may also be changes within the organization that are unavoidable and may effect nurses. We know this.
Do us a favor, and simply say: Thank you. And say it often.

Thank us for enduring the challenges of a stressful jobs, for getting up and coming into work, for saving lives, for being compassionate and caring to your family members, for improvising, thinking on our toes, and because we choose you as an employer.

By telling us thank you, you will show us that we are valued, that what we do is noticed, and that you couldn’t do it without us.

As much as our profession wants to scream about its autonomy, everyone needs to be shown that they are appreciated for what they do. 

3. Treat everyone with consistency and fairness.

As a hospital administrator, you can and should be friendly with the staff you manage. You can enjoy great relationships with them. However, it is nearly impossible to be friends with your employees without showing favoritism. Truthfully, if you use good ethics and have integrity, it may not be intentionally, but subconsciously, you may be cutting favors for your employee friends that you aren’t for others.

Rules should apply to everyone equally. Policies should apply to everyone equally. One person should not be allowed to continually fall below standards or break rules because “that’s just the way the are” and you are friends with then. This is unacceptable and an insult to those of us meetings standards and following the rules.

Be firm and military if you have to be, but please be consistent with all of your employees. Equal praise and equal punishment.

4. Follow up on nurses’ concerns, even if there is nothing that can be done.

Don’t just write it on your notebook and assume we know you handled it. Investigate the issue, and let me know what can or cannot be done about it. Even if that is nothing, we appreciate that you did take the time to investigate our concern before writing us off.

To read the rest of Brittney’s advice to hospital admin, head on over to The Nerdy Nurse. Then, in the comments below, tell us your own thoughts on how your bosses could help improve morale among your team and boost retention across the hospital.

The Nerdy Nurse
Brittney Wilson, RN, BSN, also known as The Nerdy Nurse, is a Clinical Informatics Specialist practicing in Georgia. In her day job she gets to do what she loves every day: Combine technology and healthcare to improve patient outcomes. She can best be described as a patient, nurse and technology advocate, and has a passion for using technology to innovate, improve and simplify lives, especially in healthcare. Brittney blogs about nursing issues, technology, healthcare, parenting and various lifestyle topics at

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