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As healthcare faces an ongoing nursing shortage amid recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, attracting talent and retaining nurses has never been more pressing. For forward-thinking employers, conversations around healthcare diversity, equity, and inclusion need to be front and center. An effective diversity and inclusion strategy will boost your recruitment efforts, but it will also help with another major challenge in healthcare: nurse retention. 

Why are Diversity and Inclusion Important in Healthcare?

Healthcare is experiencing a candidate shortage that will only intensify as the demand for workers continues to grow. The aging Baby Boomer population is quickly turning into a remarkably large generation of older citizens, creating a demand for caregivers that healthcare professionals have been anxiously anticipating for years.

If healthcare organizations want to succeed in the coming months and years, they will need to work aggressively to attract and retain a critically limited number of qualified candidates. To this end, healthcare diversity and inclusion efforts are vital. Healthcare needs to attract candidates who never imagined themselves in the industry before, meaning groups that are underrepresented in the current workforce. At the same time, organizations must provide a culture where any passionate worker can flourish. 

How to Use Your Diversity and Inclusion Strategy to Retain Nurses

Maybe you have already adopted diversity strategies in hiring, but retention is a whole other field. Even as you are optimizing job posts and distributing them, you should be considering how to retain new and veteran members of staff. Here are six tips on how to keep nurses by emphasizing diversity in your hiring and retention strategies. 

1. Understand What You Mean When You Talk About Healthcare Diversity 

Diversity is a huge concept that pertains to every aspect of life. On its own, the term “diversity” only indicates difference—and some degree of difference exists within any group of people.

You can’t address issues in your organization if you are unable to articulate them. If you have noticed that the majority of leaders in your organization are white, for instance, name this trend specifically. This will better enable you to actually make strides toward correcting problems and ultimately tackling healthcare turnover. 

2. Go Out Of Your Way to Support Growth

Inclusion isn’t just a matter of who you hire. It’s also about who you promote and support. Regardless of the demographic makeup of a given workforce, ultimately it’s the people who have opportunities to grow professionally who have reason to stay.

If you’re not currently promoting diverse candidates, there’s no reason this will happen without intervention. Equitable promotions must be a part of management that your leadership proactively embraces. 

3. Dig Deeper with Career Check-Ins and “Stay” Meetings

Rewarding impressive performance is one part of leadership, but healthcare managers need to go even further. If your employees are struggling, find out why—and honestly assess if your workplace is making growth easier for some employees than others. 

You can gain insight into your employees’ well-being with career check-ins and “stay” meetings. These meetings can be opportunities to have open and meaningful conversations about issues your employees are facing, and what it would take for them to thrive. Also consider, however, that in-person meetings might be intimidating to some employees. If you’re not convinced staff would feel comfortable bringing up issues in person, try an anonymous feedback tool, like a suggestion box or an app designed for this purpose.

4. Give Your Staff Flexible Benefits 

Every member of your staff has their own needs, affected by a multitude of personal, social, and professional factors. Some of your nurses may be the primary caregivers in their families. Others might be juggling other jobs, or celebrating holidays that aren’t included in your company’s calendar. 

Granting flexibility can be extremely challenging, but it has huge benefits when possible. Provide adequate PTO for not only sick days and vacations, but also for holidays, celebrations, and mourning. As part of an effective onboarding strategy, review benefits and shift flexibility with new hires, and encourage them to actually take advantage of what they’re being offered. 

5. Support Friendships, Mentorships, and Affinity Groups

Professional friendships can encourage a sense of belonging in the workplace, and provide much-needed stress relief for busy nurses. Burnout is a common cause of healthcare turnover, and social connection goes a long way to counter its effects.

You may not be able to create individual friendships between your staff, but you can support these professional bonds. Offer mentorship programs to employees looking to develop their careers, and facilitate social events for specific groups who are underrepresented in your organization. 

6. Compensate Fairly

All the cultural celebration and cultural inclusion in the world is meaningless unless you also compensate your nurses fairly. Your wage grid or compensation philosophy should account for the wages paid by competing businesses and industries in your area.

The best nurses are deeply passionate about what they do, and wages aren’t the only factor that drives them in their work. That being said, compensation is a major issue for diverse recruiting and retention efforts. If you are able to be competitive in this area, you can expect greater nurse retention in the long run. 

Conclusion

Apploi is on a mission to help healthcare recruit more successfully through smart job distribution, digital credential management, and streamlined onboarding. We distribute job posts across 80+ job sites and verify licenses during the application process to make onboarding a breeze. Our Onboard & Manage Teams product takes onboarding a step further, automatically creating digital staff records that will stay with your employee through their lifecycle at your organization. 

Interested in learning more about how you can recruit, hire, and onboard healthcare staff quickly? Contact us today for a free demo of our end-to-end solution.

Pritma Chattha, DNP MHA RN

Pritma Chattha, DNP MHA RN

Pritma is a Yale-educated nurse executive with 18 years of experience advocating for patients at the bedside and in the boardroom. She currently serves as the Head of Healthcare Innovation at Apploi—healthcare's leading recruitment and credentialing platform. Over the last decade, Pritma has honed her expertise as a health informaticist, building and improving electronic health records and credentialing platforms. She is the immediate former Executive Director of Electronic Quality and Safety for Alberta Health Services, the largest health system in Canada. Pritma enjoys rethinking healthcare processes to provide safer, better, and more accessible healthcare. https://www.linkedin.com/in/pritma/