Your first day on the job is always hard. You don’t know where anything is yet, you don’t know anyone, and you’re still getting settled into your new workflow. One of the worst things is when you start someplace new, but just don’t quite feel welcome. It’s fairly common for nurses to feel out of place after taking a new job. Everyone else on the team already knows each other, and it’s hard to start making connections when everyone’s part of an “in group” already, especially if you’re relatively shy.
When a new nurse comes on board at work, there are a few things you can do to help them feel more welcome. Nursing is a hectic job, and when you extend a helping hand to someone new, they’ll greatly appreciate it. It’s a way to combat an ongoing problem in nursing: high turnover rates for new nurses, especially those fresh out of grad school.
Why New Nurses Often Leave
It’s fairly common for newly hired nurses fresh out of school to leave their first workplace fairly soon after being hired. Newly graduated nurses have a turnover rate of about 30% in their first year of practice, and 57% in their second. This attrition is costly for employers, and although the economic downturn of the last decade or so has reduced turnover slightly, it remains a problem.
Interestingly, new nurses cite two key reasons for leaving an employer: heavy workloads, and a perceived inability to ensure patient safety. Disillusionment sets in quickly, and new nurses also often report dissatisfaction with professional relationships with their supervisors and coworkers.
Overwhelmed and overworked, new nurses will leave if they don’t feel welcome in the workplace culture. Here’s what you can do to help.
Learn their name, and use it often.
Learn the new employee’s name, and use it often. This can help you remember it better, as well as helping other people remember it. Make sure you introduce yourself early. Offer to answer any questions they might have about their new job.
Ask about their interests.
Don’t bombard your new coworker with irrelevant questions, but it’s okay to ask about their hobbies, pets, or children. These are usually safe bets, and you might even find that you have something in common.
Cultivate a healthy, supportive work culture.
Some places just aren’t pleasant to work. They’re cliquey, gossipy, and disingenuous. You may have worked someplace like that before, and chances are, you didn’t stay there for long. The key to retaining new employees is to cultivate a workplace culture that’s kind and supportive. Culture starts with management and trickles its way down. If you’re a nurse team leader, you play a major role in fostering this kind of environment. Cliques, excessive gossip, and office politics should be discouraged in favor of clear, open, transparent communication.
Tell the new nurse all about the positive aspects of your workplace.
No workplace is perfect, but chances are, there’s a lot to like about yours. Whether it’s great benefits, flexible time off, or great incentives and support for further nursing education and certification, talking up your job’s best features can help the new hire feel more optimistic.
Provide emotional support, when appropriate.
You don’t have to be everyone’s personal therapist, and doing so is exhausting. But if a new hire is struggling with a difficult patient, providing some encouragement and support can be very helpful.
Relate your own experiences when you first started.
Share a few of your memories about being fresh out of school, or joining your new employer for the first time. You might have some valuable tips and pointers that you can share. Let the new hire know about any important unwritten rules at the facility, like handoff procedures or who to ask about certain things.
Give positive feedback.
Little statements of encouragement, like “You did a great job today,” or “You did a good job with that patient,” can go a long way toward making a new nurse feel welcome.
Welcoming New Employees Into the Fold
When someone new comes to the office, it’s up to the other nurses to make them feel welcome. Entering the workforce can be especially difficult for recent graduates, so it’s important to make an effort to make them feel at home.