Five Tips for Health Care Administrators to Reduce Staff Burnout and Increase Retention Rate

by lilnursewriter lilnursewriter (New)

Specializes in geriatric nursing/ dementia care/ nurse manager. Has 7 years experience.

5 ways to promote staff retention and overall satisfaction.

What methods have you used to improve staff retention?

Five Tips for Health Care Administrators to Reduce Staff Burnout and Increase Retention Rate

Nurses are leaving their current workplace to find employment elsewhere, even considering other occupations.

Here are five ways to promote staff retention and overall satisfaction.

1- Ask frontline staff for advice before making decisions1

To reduce frustration among frontline staff and reduce unnecessary waste of resources, please ask for advice from your frontline staff before implementing any decisions that would affect their job even just a little bit. Sometimes that little thing may make or break their day. A well-designed space, product, and policy give frontline staff confidence in the ability of the organization’s leadership.

From years of nursing experience, the most frustrating things are not the family members or aggressive or confused patients; the most frustrating thing is coming to work and discovering a new policy or equipment that is not user-friendly and makes staff’s work more complex and time-consuming.

A few examples that I have encountered in past years include 1) new product, like medication cups or isolation carts, that is poorly designed or difficult to use; nurses can only improvise to find an alternate solution, which makes the product useless and a waste of money sitting in storage forever. 2) A workspace that is so big but poorly designed. For example, a huge washroom in a nursing home with a door that is not wide enough to have a mechanical lift and staff member pass through at the same time; brings up frustration that either staff or patients on the mechanical lift may bump into the door frame or wall because of a poorly designed space.

Countless situations when frontline staff wonder “what on earth were they thinking when making these decisions, and not talking to real experts but rather making decisions based on theory and people working a desk job.” Hence do your staff a favor, and ask for their opinion. This not only makes them feel respected but truly makes their lives easier at work.

2- A mentorship program that provides new staff with a sense of belonging at work2

For new graduate nurses, 18% of them will change their job or even professions within the first year of graduation, and this is because of the nature of the job and the pressures associated. However, a better orientation system to help new staff build relationships with the workplace and co-workers supports new staffs’ confidence in transitioning to a new work environment.

For example, creating a mentorship or Buddy system allows staff to have someone to talk to as peer support rather than asking them to talk to their managers whom they rarely see or do not feel related to in a challenging situation.

Anyone at your workplace with a passion for connecting with people can be a mentor. A mentorship program will not only combine networking with learning and growth, but also allows the learning experiences to be more people-centric.

3- Throw a staff appreciation party like you mean it3

Staff parties are great because people like to connect, network, and have fun at work. However, if you really want your frontline staff in your health organization to feel appreciated as part of the team, then prepare to throw a party that they can truly enjoy and sense that management has put thought into how to make us happy at work. This includes the timing, the location, the content, etc. of the event that would be accommodating for people working frontline.

I recently attended a staff appreciation party that was held for staff working in a nursing home; it involved a dunk tank and required people to dress up in their Summer outfits. Most frontline staff like nurses and nursing aides were not able to attend due to the busy work on the unit as there was no extra staff to provide relief for a staff member to enjoy the party. In addition, this party involved staff members getting wet, and nobody would want to continue to work on the unit if their hair or undergarment and socks are all wet. Hence, you hear in the hallway how managers and administrators really think this is a fun event while staff members are running around on the unit feeling exhausted.

Hence, a word of advice is to do your research for your target audience before throwing your staff an appreciation party because you truly want them to feel appreciated, don’t you?

4- Money is not cliché, and people care about it4

According to an article from the Journal of Clinical Nursing, staff perceptions of fair pay and recognition from supervisors increase their sense of accomplishment and buffer the negative impacts of physical and emotional exhaustion at work.

If you know how hard your staff work at the frontline in healthcare, then you should realize staff is not there simply for the pay. Although there is truth in that statement, it also reveals how underserving you think about your staff.

Better pay means a better life for the staff and their families, and everyone I encounter cares a lot about the quality of life outside of work. Hence, how much you pay to appreciate your staff means a lot. If not, increase the wages and at least provide better health care benefits because it sends the message that you truly believe health is important. How well you treat your staff will be known by others, including your customers, partners, stakeholders, etc. Hence when you treat your staff well with financial benefits, good words will be spread, and there will be people lining up wanting to join your organization.

5- Team building activities matter among different departments and different professions

When people feel at ease asking for help and sharing opinions among different team members, problems are solved faster, and there is trust in the workplace, especially when challenges occur. Most importantly, innovation happens when people are willing to share openly about workplace challenges and willing to come up with ideas to solve problems together instead of thinking, “it’s not my problem” or “it’s not my place to say anything,” or “I’m not able to make any changes.”

In addition, when thinking of being innovative, better team works and trust between the teammates make implementing any new initiatives easier.

Are you seeing burnout among your employees?

If so, what methods have you utilized, and which ones have worked for you?


1The role of service design in healthcare

2Mentoring at Work: Reduce Turnover and Increase Engagement

314 Appreciation Ideas for Nurses and Medical Staff

45 Better Motivators Than Raises for Improving Employee Retention

Reference: AMA journal of ethics, Teamwork in Healthcare: maximizing collective intelligence via inclusive collaboration and open communication

Burnout among direct-care workers in nursing homes: Influences of organisational, workplace, interpersonal and personal characteristics

Hi, I'm Lily, an RN working in various nursing homes for the past 7 years. I also have an opportunity to step into a temporary clinical manager role for 20 months. My passion is to reduce staff burnout and my passion and specialty is working with seniors with dementia.

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10 Comment(s)

CrunchRN, ADN, RN

Specializes in Clinical Research, Outpt Women's Health. Has 25 years experience. 4,422 Posts

Good ideas.

Hoosier_RN, MSN

Specializes in dialysis. Has 29 years experience. 3,535 Posts

Great observations, well thought out! #4 is the one that they definitely don't want to hear. Unfortunately, all of these, they already think they're doing great at. Sadly, not even close!

In LTC,  if they gave longer orientation AND staff well, more people would stay. 


6,256 Posts

These are all good/true.

They are not actually trying to retain staff, though. I've gone round and round with various posters over the years regarding the issue of what came first in terms of retention problems in nursing--was it decreased loyalty from younger generations, or increasingly poor treatment that people finally decided was intolerable? Well, there are other factors beyond those two possibilities, but between just those two if one has been observant for any length of time at all it is plain as day. Corporations complain loudly about problems finding and keeping workers all while making one decision after another that displays their lack of concern for the issue. I maintain that they make at least some amount of decisions that they know will cause turnover. It saves them money, especially when they do NOT spend the oft-quoted outrageous amounts claimed to be necessary to onboard and train a new staff member. Or when they hedge their expenditures with contracts that require a poorly-treated employee to repay the monies if they leave. And their "residencies" are nothing compared to the solid orientations of the past.

Why does any of the above matter? Because it is people's well-being we are talking about. Things will change when there is a serious, immediate threat to business viability, and not a second before. Nurses (and prospective nurses) should make decisions with this in mind, not spend their whole career in mental/emotional turmoil wondering why no one is taking these obvious measures mentioned in the OP. They aren't being taken because those in charge do not want to do things that way. Their tack is to scream and wail about a widespread nursing shortage so that more new nurses can be pumped out perpetually.

When experienced nurses have had enough and make plans to leave, that's no problem either, they will get as many of them as possible hooked into the APP pipeline so that they can replace physicians and still be treated just as poorly for less money (than physicians). 

Hoosier_RN, MSN

Specializes in dialysis. Has 29 years experience. 3,535 Posts

I'd like to add #6-offer health related insurance (medical/dental/vision) that the powers that be would love to see our patients roll in the doors with! Those types of benefits speak volumes as well

logos68540, BSN, EdD, RN

Specializes in Psych-Mental Health, Geriatrics/Dementia. Has 29 years experience. 6 Posts

All valid ideas, of course. I have another one-

There are three rules in life. Number one is to be kind. Number two is to be kind. And number three is to be kind- Henry James

I have been in every position there is in nursing, and the ONE thing that has always been a constant for me is being kind to others. I've had supervisors who were nice to us and we produced some great outcomes and top notch patient care. Then I've had supervisors who should not be allowed within 10 feet of a license- the most cutthroat and vindictive- and I've sadly watched so many peers make the decision to get the heck outta Dodge. We can do many things to demonstrate to our staff that we care about them; however, the thing that is absolutely free, no planning, and portable, is Kindness. 

2BS Nurse, BSN

Has 9 years experience. 669 Posts

Those are all great ideas above, but I can't see them ever being implemented. In my experience, staff appreciation and team building events are unheard of. Appreciation comes in the form of a garment with the company's logo, a sugar cookie or a little bag of popcorn. 


traumaRUs, MSN, APRN, CNS

Specializes in Nephrology, Cardiology, ER, ICU. Has 30 years experience. 164 Articles; 21,155 Posts

Leaders need to learn to be followers. If you are a leader, you should be able to do all the jobs. Please don't hire someone with an MBA to be the leader of nurses. 

I've been a nurse for >30 years now, started as a nursing assistant, LPN, ADN, BSN and I've been an APRN for 16 years now.

As a leader, if you are seeing a pt and they need to be turned or repositioned for an exam, help the staff out. It doesn't take but a second to pour someone a glass of water, or reposition covers 



Specializes in Nurse Educator. Has 14 years experience. 2 Articles; 9 Posts

Great article! Having a democratic leader for nursing units I think is crucial. This rule of leader values the teams input. It would be great if team building focused on the team working together to solve actual problems for their department. This would help foster team work and give the team some ownership of the work they do every day. It seems like so often team building is focused on doing silly activities that most team members feel uncomfortable with or feel like it’s a waste of their time. When team building happens in way that allows staff to work together to solve an actual problem, it allows

staff to get to know each other without it feeling so forced. 


vintagegal, BSN, RN

Specializes in Geriatrics. Has 3 years experience. 247 Posts

Don’t let established staff act like creations gift to the world, or treat new staff like dirt because they’ve been around for awhile. Nurses can be snarky, workplace hostility should be taken seriously and reprimanded as such. 



4 Posts

Just staff the place decently.