Study Finds Gap in Employer Incentives and Nurses' Expectations

According to a new report, hospital recruitment and retention strategies may not be what nurses really want.  Read on to learn more about the report’s findings. Nurses Headlines News


Study Finds Gap in Employer Incentives and Nurses' Expectations

Incredible Health recently conducted a study with input from 100 U.S. health system executives to better understand the challenges nurses face within the profession.  The findings released on June 13, 2023, shed light on the disconnect between what incentives employers are offering and what nurses really want.

Study Methodology

During May 2023, Incredible Health surveyed executives from 100 U.S. hospitals and health systems The survey included executives from within and outside of the Incredible Health employer network and participant responses remained anonymous.  Large health systems, academic medical centers, community hospitals and regional centers from both rural and urban areas were included in the study.

Critical Shortage

According to the National Council of State Boards of Nursing, approximately 100,000 registered nurses (RNs) left the workforce during the COVID-19 pandemic due to stress, burnout and retirement.  The consequences of fewer nurses in the workforce weigh heavily, with 94% of surveyed executives describing the nursing shortage in their system as "critical".  Alarmingly, 68% of participants also reported they would not have enough nursing staff to adequately manage another large-scale health crisis.

Gap in Level of Experience

Surveyed executives identified previous nursing experience (43%) and qualifications (43%) as the top two desirable factors when hiring nurses.  However, study participants reported 53% of nurses had worked less than 5 years at their institutions.  The gap between desired experience and current reality is further highlighted when considering that more than 25% of nurses working in the participants' institutions have less than a year of experience.

Offering What Nurses Want

The study also found a disconnect between what nurses want as hiring and retention incentives and what employers are actually offering.  For example, health systems reported 80% of younger nurses wanted schedules with more flexibility.  Yet, only 11% of executives offered flexible schedules as an incentive.  

Hospital executives reported using sign-on bonus (35%), pay increases (26%) and improved staff-to-patient ratios (16%) to attract nurses.  However, Incredible Health's State of U.S. Nursing Report Study, 80% of nurses plan to stay in field until retirement | Incredible Health found that only 33% of nurses feel they are paid fairly for the work they do.

Generational Gaps

Nurses working in the U.S. represent a wide range of ages, with the average age being 52 years.  The characteristics of each generation lead to differences in workplace preferences and expectations.  The report findings uncovered significant generational differences in what supports workplace satisfaction among nurses.

  • 78% of younger nurses requested compensation increases vs. only 48% of older nurses.
  • 54% of younger nurses desire specialized roles vs. 14% of older nurses
  • 74% of younger nurses request opportunities to advance their career vs. 8% of older nurses.
  • 79% of executives noted a lower level of loyalty and tenure in younger nurses vs only 21% in older nurses.

Moving Forward

Are the employee incentives in your area of practice aligned with your own expectations?


Experienced nurse specializing in clinical leadership, staff development and nursing education.

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kbrn2002, ADN, RN

3,782 Posts

Specializes in Geriatrics, Dialysis.

Work culture for the facility as a whole and the unit in particular are a major factor in job satisfaction. We spend way too many hours with the people we work with and also work for to stay in a place that makes being at work difficult because of a poor behavior by patients, management and/or co-workers and draconian policies. Even good pay is not enough to keep to nurses at a job where we are not treated well.

Then of course it's money, it's always money. Wages are overall still too low, raises are small to the point of being insulting if they exist at all. Plus too many employers just keep raising starting wages to get new nurses in the door while not giving  decent raises to their experienced staffs. That's a large part of the reason why I left my previous job. I discovered a new hire was making only $0.40/hr less than I was and I had been there 25 years. Not acceptable!  


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