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  • 31 March 2022
  • 4 min read

Is Greater Engagement The Key To Retaining Valuable Nurses?

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    • Richard Gill
    • Laura Bosworth
    • Aubrey Hollebon
  • 1
  • 1349
Should healthcare bosses be doing more to engage with their Nurses with the aim of keeping them in post?Should healthcare bosses be doing more to engage with their Nurses with the aim of keeping them in post?

Research conducted at the University of Surrey has shown that NHS trusts which maintain higher levels of engagement with their Nurses will see a reduction in the numbers of staff leaving their roles as a consequence.

The study, funded by The Health Foundation, observed that a 10% increase in Nurse engagement resulted in a 1% rise in nursing staff retention, and an 8% decline in nursing staff leaving the NHS entirely.

Researchers analysed 11 years of data from both acute and mental health care trusts in the NHS, as well as NHS Staff Survey results and hospital staffing records.

So, what is Nurse engagement? In the study, engagement was measured by looking at a trio of factors. Firstly, how Nurses felt about their job; defined as ‘motivation’. Secondly, how Nurses viewed their organisation as a place to work, defined as ‘advocacy’. Lastly, the extent of Nurses’ influence in bringing about change, defined by the study as ‘inclusion’.

Do you think these three factors cover all aspects of ‘engagement’? Are there other considerations that you think should have been looked at as well?

Also, how useful will engaging more with the nursing workforce be do you think, when the issues facing Nurses may be structural/long-term, or are outside Nurses’ immediate control?

"Overall, the evidence gathered suggests that policy-makers within the NHS and private sector should focus on improving engagement and retention of Nurses in the first instance” said Giuseppe Moscelli, the principal investigator for the study.

“This is particularly relevant where Nurses represent the majority of the hospital workforce. Our findings show that an increase in engagement not only positively impacts Nurses’ retention, but it also has an indirect but positive effect on the retention of Doctors and other staff” he explained.

“Our study confirms the importance engagement plays in retaining Nurses because, unlike Doctors, they don't have a clear pathway to structured development opportunities after they have qualified” added Melisa Sayli, co-author of the study.

Lack of career progression has often been highlighted as a reason Nurses quit their roles or the profession. Can increased engagement, as defined above, address this issue without wider reform by healthcare employers?

And do you agree that it can only help Nurses feel valued and engaged if their career development was more clearly structured, and in such a way that contemporary staffing requirements didn’t compromise it?

The NHS in particular, and the health sector more generally have suffered difficulties in retaining Nurses for a long time.

Continued shortages of staff within the health system places increased pressure on the remaining workforce. The resultant mental and physical exhaustion can cause Nurses to leave their jobs when they otherwise might not have chosen to do so.

‘Burnout’ is now an accepted phenomenon and is one of the major issues causing higher levels of staff turnover.

Do you feel that increased engagement with the workforce will be able to solve more distinct retention issues such as staff burnout?

Dame Clare Gerada, Medical director of the NHS Practitioner Health service recently explained to the Health and Social Care Committee of MPs that ‘burnout is too gentle a term for the mental distress that is going on amongst our workforce’.

She suggested that Nurses and other healthcare staff should have an hour of paid reflective time each month written into their contracts, with mentoring, careers advice and leadership training being integrated throughout a person’s career.

‘The symptoms we have got are the symptoms of an organisation that is unable to care for its workforce in the way that it should be caring,’ she said.

Simply put, when Nurses feel valued and listened to, they stay.

Do you think that understaffing and the need to constantly be reactive, rather than proactive means the NHS is unable to provide the supportive and engaging working environment for Nurses that it should?

And would engaging more with Nurses at least allow NHS managers to identify ‘pain points’, where acute pressure on staff may result in them leaving their roles?

Please let us know what you think in the comments.

Also, please Like the article if you found it interesting. Thanks.

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About the author

I believe people should be able to choose to enjoy work. That is, choose an employer who reflects their values and provides them with a sustainable career.

    • Richard Gill
    • Laura Bosworth
    • Aubrey Hollebon
  • 1
  • 1349

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    • Penny Corkerton one year ago
      Penny Corkerton
    • Penny Corkerton
      one year ago

      All l need is time to see my patients; GPS who keep shortening our appointments have no idea what we ... read more

      • So sorry to read this Penny. We hear this so much - nurses are not heard and appreciated. We're working hard to change this.

        Replied by: Matt Farrah