Having worked in places where the morale stinks, as well as in places where the nurses just LOVE to be (no matter how crazy things get at times)...I'd have to agree with Shay, by saying that management support is the most important factor in nurses deciding to leave or stay when the going gets rough.
Yes...Management should be joining their staff (scrubs
and all) when it is really crazy...whether watching stable delivered patients, helping push the beds back to the OR, running errands or running the phones...The fact that they are there, working right along beside their frazzled staff will definitely be noticed!
Although I don't know about your specific unit issues and reasons for low staff morale/high turn-over rates...Here are some of my thoughts, based on the things that places have done which KILLED morale (where we'd have a high turn-over rate), and the things that have helped (where we've had a low turn-over rate)...
Management should show some flexibility to support their staff. For ex., allowing a f/t staff member to go p/t if family obligations require it (even if it wouldn't be ideal) is better than giving that staff member an ultimatum that will lead to her leaving with a bad taste in her mouth. Be flexible and supportive in scheduling and schedule changes, as much as possible. (If a staff member is having trouble finding a switch for a shift she really needs off...help her find help, or re-think the schedule a bit, if possible.)
Let the staff be involved in as many decisions as possible! From scheduling, to talking about policies (how many inductions to schedule in a day, and what the criteria should be, for ex.)and such.
Support your NURSES in conflicts with doctors!!! Take a very strong stand against ANY negativity or abuse towards nurses from doctors. Allow your nurses to write up incidences of abuse (verbal) or poor patient care by docs, so that unit management can help her deal with it. Don't let management just look at doctors as GODS, and put up with their nonsense because they are the ones bringing the patients (money) to you. Look at your nurses as the backbone of your units, and create the environment that respects them as such. (This is a very BIG factor, indeed!)
Following that line of thinking...don't allow doctors to bully the unit into taking more inductions than the staff can really safely handle. And, as you build up your staffing...staff with some extra padding to allow for the craziness that can hit L+D at any given time. Don't just cancel people left and right or put everyone on call just because it is kinda slow right now. Granted, you don't need to staff with 5 free nurses at first, if you don't have anything scheduled...but consider that 4 of your labor nurses can all go to complete at once, or 2 need a c/s, or the bus can unload of triage patients in an instant...
More pay is nice, especially if your payscale doesn't match or exceed the other local hospitals. Bonuses are nice. (One of the hospitals I worked at gave everyone a $100 bonus when our patient satisfaction score met a set goal!)
Make praise and recognition a big part of your unit...taking it hospital wide is even better. Our hospitals are having a heck of a time retaining nurses, because there are such an over-abundance of nursing jobs
available...People can walk at the drop of a hat, if they aren't happy. Most of our hospitals have taken to having staff appreciation events (free dinners, served, even in the middle of the night, by administration, for ex.)...parties (costumes and DJ music included!)...On all of our units, we have a "toolbox" to show appreciation for co-workers. Anybody can say thanks to another co-worker by "shopping" in the toolbox for an appropriate thank you gift (movie tickets, a candy bar, gift certificates to local stores, "job well done" mugs, free lunch coupons, etc...)
Many of the hospitals have taken to putting alot of "Kudos" notes, congratulations, and other staff appreciation in hospital and unit specific newsletters. Posting really nice "thank you" letters from patients is nice.
If it's not already being done...Give good customer service training to your staff (hospital wide), and teach everyone to consider patients/visitors, doctors, and other staff (from nurses to lab to pharmacy to janitor) as customers. It sounds goofy...but, as the environment becomes more friendly, staff can often put up with alot of craziness! You start to feel more like family...
Hope that gives you some ideas to work with...But, again, that full support by management is the most important...