attracting and retaining good nurses

  1. Posing a question to those older.... experienced nurses out there...(you know who you are) and all the others who care to answer!! Would you be willing to change jobs and accept a bit less in hourly wage in exchange for a GREAT retirement plan that was fully paid for by the employer? All other factors being comparable. It has been my soapbox speach that offering the best retirement plan available would attract those nurses who are older, more experienced and long term employees even if it meant there wages were a bit lower than the local average. Let me know what you think.......Thanks.
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  2. 19 Comments

  3. by   2ndCareerRN
    Why should we be willing to accept less pay for something we SHOULD be getting as it is?

    This is a very good argument for unionizing all nurses. It is time we got treated like the professionals we are!

    I would not accept less pay, but I would walk a picket line to increase my pay and benefits to a livable standard.


    bob
  4. by   Glad2behere
    The hospital I work for already offers options around that.

    Option 1: 15% pay increase over current pay and no benefits.
    This works good for a spouse who is also working and has better benefits.

    Option 2: Prn call to float anywhere in the hospital, provided you are cross-trained. No benefits, time and a half.

    To your question specifically, depends on how good the retirement is, how long will it take to become vested? And what are the tradeoffs on an hourly basis? Exact compensation reduction? Does it apply to overtime or is the new program figured on the 36-40 hour work week only? Shift diffs? What is the employers' contribution rate and when does it begin, and if you quit what percentage is forfeited? Last of all, how secure is the portfolio?

    Oh one more. What would be the internal rate of return or the projected yield over what period of time?

    $1 per hour is 2080 hours per year, you would have to show me what you could buy me that is worth $2080, or at the end of 5 years may be worth at least 13 grand at that contribution rate unmatched by the employer. Would the employer match at the same rate?
  5. by   Tweety
    How about great pay and a great retirement plan, along with appropriate patient ratio's?

    Our experienced nurses seem to be taking the jobs that are paying the most.

    But a good retirement plan completely paid for would definately be plus, it would make up for the lower pay because the nurses wouldn't have to pay into a 401K or whatever plan.
  6. by   kmchugh
    Frankly, the fact that questions like this are being asked are part of the reason I left staff nursing. If tomorrow, I could not do anesthesia anymore, I'd go back to school and leave nursing forever. I would never return to staff nursing. The treatment of staff nurses just seems to never get any better.

    As others have said, why have to choose between a good pay rate and a good retirement? And to what purpose? What's the real answer? We can't have nurses cutting into hospital profits!

    Sorry, I don't mean this as a flame, and I know Scooby you are just asking. But presented that choice, I'd be searching for better employment.

    Kevin McHugh
  7. by   renerian
    I would. I am used to for profit home health whose pension plan usually stinks and is only employee contribution based.

    renerian
  8. by   Brownms46
    My thoughts are ...what does the experienced nurse do to make ends meet before retirement?? Should an experienced nurse not be paid for their experience, and have the expectation of making a decent wage that reflects their experience level?

    Yesterday I got the chance to put my foot in my mouth in front of the CEO of a hospital, and a room full of Doctors, and administrative people. The CEO had the nerve to ask what would make their facility more attractive to nurses to stay and or come aboard. I told them that while their were understaffed, that they couldn't expect the staff they have to work at the same level as they would if they were full staffed. I got the pat admin answer, that they weren't the only ones in the situation, and if they weren't in this situation, they wouldn't need me! Yeah like I didn't know that!

    The way to retain and gain more experienced nurses ..is to pay them what their worth, and not try to get by with giving them as little as possible, and stiill want them to work like their three people!

    Two of the residents also stated this...but got the same pat answers I did. But I didn't care. The CEO shouldn't have asked the question, if he didn't want to hear the answers. Then again, the three of us knew they didn't really want to hear the answers...they just wanted to hear themeselves talk.

    Too many times management only wants to give lip service to the fact that they're trying to find the best help, and to make their work setting the best there is. If this wasn't true, this hospital would be able to have it's pick of great nurses here. They have a great town, and some great staff here...but they lack the insight into why no one wants to come or stay here. You have to be willling to go above the norm in pay in order to attract the best and the brightest. You can't get the best with mediocre pay, and or benefits! Remember the old saying of you get what you pay for??? Holds true for nurses too...
  9. by   SmilingBluEyes
    And we wonder why there is a NON shortage.......yea I said that ----and it has been said before. This only means is NO shortage of nurses....just a shortage of nurses willing to put up with poor pay, dangerously low staffing, watching the hospitals they work for pay travelers and agency nurses 1 1/2 to even 2 1/2 times what they get to do the same work..... and poor treatment by dr's, admininstration and some of our "customers"!

    Really now, why should a nurse have to settle for less than her GARBAGE MAN (ooops I meant "sanitation engineer") would settle for? This kind of thinking is why the shortage just gets more profound each year....just read Kevin's post above and you find what these people are thinking when they "vote with their feet". It's not unreasonable to pay well AND provide excellent benefits to the people who RUN the hospital, now, is it?
  10. by   Brownms46
    And the reason there are soo many travelers and agency nurses, with the numbers growing minute by minute! Is because of the low pay, and the bad working conditions! If conditions were better, there would be no pull to a nurse that is satisfied in her position to go agency or be a traveler! Being a travelers means you make more money, and you can op out of a bad working situation, with no two week notice, no explanations other than I want to travel elsewhere! But if also means..having to look for a job every 9 or 13 weeks. If means not having a place to call home. It means being on pins and needles for the next interview, and it means sometimes getting the worse asignment, because staff is tired or angry...period! It means flying by the seat of your pants sometimes..and hitting the floor running...with little more info than where stuff is. There have been even been times I didn't even know where the BR was! But I can say, that when I get my paycheck...I'm not even pissed...

    So as long as administrations and those in power want to keep the status quote...that only means more work for me and others, who refused to be paid less...for more work! Funny thing is I beleive this hospital might have been different, so I came here to take a look at being a perm employee. But I found things the same here, as other places. A facility run by short sighted people, who believe they can talk their way into obtaining, and retaininig nurses. Totally unaware that they're losing ground daily!
  11. by   JNJ
    I'm posting to echo the general responses already given and to add a few comparison insights.

    Do we RNs all realize how much a PTA or COTA earns - the starting rates for new grads out of a local college has a $10 an hour differential (average rates) between new RNs and new COTAs? COTAs achieve those rates by being in short supply. We have the shortage, so just hang on in there and fight for what we are worth. Around here (SoCal) Kaiser nurses get one of the better general deals in terms of pay/benefits (free health care for life after 15 years' service). They are unionized. And Kaiser doesn't count all of the RNs experience elsewhere in their computations of pay/benefits. But there are other hospitals here that are quietly paying $65 + an hour to experienced, skilled RNs in areas of acute shortage (e.g. ICU). These RNs have discreetly become independent contractors. It's really quite possible. See my frequent posts about becoming independent - independentrn.com - nothing like as complicated as it at first seems. See the entrepreneur section started by nightngle1988 moderator.

    Going back to the original posting - I'm an independent, but as we are all very different in our needs, one package does not fit all. After years in the more stressful areas of nursing (and with a husband with good benefits) I've opted into being a Medi-Cal independent provider. I don't earn that much - $31.94 per hour - but I get to choose my own patients, my own hours and not to work another holiday or weekend ever that I do not choose to. That's my idea of a great benefit, but it would probably not be the goal of a much younger RN.

    I believe we should start insisting on facilities offering RNs flexible packaging (how I would have liked extra pay over the years to compensate me for the health care schemes I did not need). Go to these staff meetings with well reasoned (and generally supported within the RN community) ideas for pay/benefit packages that work for you. Challenge the HR people and management to meet your various needs, but know what those needs are. And don't fall apart because different RNs have different needs. Good HR should be able to accommodate those differences - they do at my husband's place of work (not health care). Power to all RNs - whatever your working needs.
  12. by   llg
    About retirement plans: Did you read the new AJN article about retirement plans? It made me angry because it was just an advertisement for unionization and was very biased in favoring the type of plan most unions bargain for -- even to the point of being misleading.

    The misleading part was this: Many (perhaps most, but I don't have the numbers) defined benefit retirement plans base your retirement benefits on the hours you work during the last 5 years of employment. That system is only beneficial to those people who work full time up until retirement -- which is true of most traditionally unionized workforces, such as MEN who work on factory assembly lines.

    However, most of the nurses I know are women -- women who would like to work part time as they get into their 60's. So, instead of calculating their retirement benefits on the PEAK EARNING years as the union tells them the system will do for them, it calculates their benefits on their final, part-time employment years!

    Now, that probably doesn't happen all the time -- but it is the type of thing we nurses have to be especially wary of before we decide on what type of retirement benefit we want. Also, a lot of pension plans really "punish" people for changing jobs in that you may get NOTHING if you leave before the 5 or 10 year vesting period is up. Relatively few nurses stay with the same employer for their entire careers.

    To evaluate a retirement plan, we need to questions such as:

    Are we hoping to work part-time before retirement? How will our benefits be caluculated? Will the full time employment of our "youth" be disregarded?

    How well does the plan work for people who change employers every few years? Will they be left completely out in the cold?

    If it is a pension plan, what happens if the company goes bankrupt? (Think Enron and the many pension plan scandals that have rocked the financial world.) Do I really want the corporate executives managing my retirement or do I want to control the safety of the investments myself? etc. etc. etc.

    llg
  13. by   llg
    Oh ... I forgot to add ...

    When I am job-hunting. I DO consider the retirement plan as I weigh my options. However, it is not my most important consideration. As long as there is a "reasonable" plan in place, I am smart enough to handle my money and my investments myself.

    What I look for most is the quality of the job itself. Will I be doing work that I like to do and that is meaningful for me? Will I be working with people that I resect and like? etc. No amount of money or retirement options would be worth working in a job I hated. ..... Yes, I want reasonable compensation and that is part of the decision ... but only a part of it.

    llg
  14. by   sjoe
    IIg--exactly right. How many nurses plan to spend the rest of their careers, up to retirement age, with the same employer? Very few (and for good reason).

    Why, then, would any employer think that retirement benefits would be of major importance in recruiting/retaining RNs? They miss the point.

    If it were a supportive, well-organized, adequately managed, and well-led facililty, providing suitable wages and benefits all along, a retirement plan would be all but irrelevant, because the nurses would be staying regardless, and doing their own investing for retirement.

    If it is NOT all these things, then nurses will be leaving anyway, so a retirement plan would be all but irrelevant, except a plan that is transportable (like a 401(k)).

    IMHO.
    Last edit by sjoe on Dec 18, '02

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