Up to 45% of nurses in a permanent role are actively looking for a new job, according to a survey on factors affecting the nursing workforce and career opportunities.
Employers should focus on boosting training opportunities and improving working culture in order to attract and retain nursing staff, said those behind the research.
“It is up to employers to embrace and build upon the factors that nurses value”
The survey of 450 UK nurses forms part of a report, titled What Nurses Want Report 2017, which was published by recruitment company Hays.
It focused on views about four prominent factors affecting the workforce – pay, training opportunities, cultural “fit” in an organisation and work-life balance.
Pay came out as the most important factor driving nurses to look for new roles, with 53% saying they were “dissatisfied with or indifferent” to their current pay.
The report noted that this may not be a huge surprise given the recent years of public sector pay rises being frozen and subsequently capped at 1%.
Pay was also the main factor that nurses looked at when considering a new role, though there was a difference between the generations.
The so-called “Baby Boomers” of Generation X gave pay considerations a higher weighting in decisions on a new job than younger nurses in so-called Generations Y and Z – people born during the 1980s to the early 2000s.
“Healthcare professionals place value on the entirety of the job offering”
However, recognising that individual employers had little control over nurse pay, the report recommended that trusts should “promote the total offering”, in order to boost recruitment and retention of nurses.
This should include a strong workplace culture, good training opportunities, flexible working and positive feedback, suggested the report.
For example, after pay, the survey found workplace culture was the second most important factor for nurses when evaluating a potential new job.
In addition, it found 35% were dissatisfied by their “cultural fit” in their current workplace.
A similar number of respondents said they had left a role due to not having the right working environment and a further third had considered doing so.
Meanwhile, 29% highlighted problems with culture and organisational values as the key “aspect” missing from their current workplace, while 22% cited problems with senior leadership and colleagues.
Indicating the influence of the wider team, 90% of nurses said that their colleagues were important to their overall workplace happiness, with 84% saying the same in relation to their manager.
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The three most valued qualities in colleagues were professionalism, respectfulness and honesty. The survey also suggested that professionals were willing to make sacrifices to find an ideal workplace fit.
Almost as important to nurses as culture in deciding on a new job, was potential career progression.
The survey found 44% of respondents were dissatisfied by the training and development opportunities on offer in their current role and 30% hoped a new job would offer improved training opportunities.
The fourth most important factor in deciding on a new job, cited by 12% of nurses, was work-life balance.
In one of the survey’s more positive findings, nearly three quarters of nurses were happy with their current work-life balance.
Only 29% of nurses said they were dissatisfied by work-life balance, with 71% describing themselves as “satisfied” or “very satisfied”.
But the report authors warned against complacency. Four in 10 nurses hoped a new job would offer flexible working and a further 37% hoped for an improved work-life balance.
Most nurses said they felt valued by their employer, though around a fifth reported not feeling valued.
Meanwhile, the survey revealed feelings of job satisfaction among nurses were also linked to the particular source of praise and recognition for their work.
For example, 45% felt most valued in their job when they received recognition from their patients, 22% from fellow health professionals and 16% from their direct manager.
Hays said the report provided a “unique insight into what nurses wanted from their working life”.
“This provides employers with a view of how best to tailor their recruitment and retention strategies in order to attract and keep the nursing talent they need at a time of ongoing shortages affecting the profession,” it said.
“Results show that healthcare professionals place value on the entirety of the job offering, with culture and professional development key areas of focus outside of pay,” said the report.
Nearly half of UK nurses ‘actively’ looking for new post
The survey that the document was based on was completed in June 2017 by 450 nurses in both public and private sector organisations, including NHS and agency workers.
Simon Hudson, director of Hays Healthcare, said: “Many feel satisfied with their job, with 66% saying they are satisfied with their current role.
“However, there are still areas for improvement for employers, especially around training and development and building the right workplace culture,” he said.
He added: “It is up to employers to embrace and build upon the factors that nurses value and which contribute to their workplace satisfaction in order to find and retain talented nurses in a challenging environment.”