Staff retention of hospital nurses is influenced by age, although no single factor can be pinpointed, according to a study.
The only universal influence on whether an individual continues working in the profession is “a strong attachment to healing”, research involving 900 nurses shows.
Seven variables, considered potentially influential to a hospital nurse’s choice to remain in the job, were investigated.
Researchers concluded that if employers, such as the NHS, wish to retain nurses, they must build on the personal attachment staff members have to their profession.
Older hospital nurses tend to be more influenced by a larger number of factors than younger staff, which determined their likelihood of staying in the job.
Flexible arrangements for working was not found to be a particularly significant variable in retention of staff.
The study authors say their research, conducted among three generations of nurses in Australia, provides governments and other healthcare providers with evidence that points to a solution to the worldwide shortage of nurses.
“Our findings, which we believe may be applicable to many international hospitals, show that there is no single driver behind nurse retention,” says co-author Dr Kate Shacklock, Senior Lecturer in Employment Relations and Human Resources at Griffith University, Queensland.
“Older nurses were more likely to be influenced by a larger number of factors than younger nurses and flexible working arrangements, which have been suggested by some as a possible solution to retention issues, were not deemed significant by any of the three age groups.
“However, one clear message emerged, that nurses feel a strong attachment to healing and to working in the nursing profession. This was the only variable identified by all three age groups. We believe that strategies that build on this and the other variables identified in our study may improve hospital retention rates.”
- Shacklock K, et al. The intention to continue nursing: work variables affecting three nurse generations in Australia. Journal of Advanced Nursing 2011; Advance online publication.