20 Feb

Attraction marketing combines efforts that make someone want to be around. Think of why you go to the places you go, hang around the people you do, and work where you work. Some factors first attract you and then hold on to you. Other factors first attract you and then disappoint you. Did you know that RNs are leaving the workforce faster than they join? One study identified that 22% of the 400 frontline RNs who participated were ready to quit and leave the profession (Berlin et al., 2021). What are healthcare leaders to do in this current climate? With unprecedented costs for contract labor, the dramatic rise in RN turnover, and the anecdotal "understanding" of why this is happening, healthcare organizations struggle to stay open. 

The sad reality is that this is not just occurring with RNs. The entire healthcare system workforce is in jeopardy. I elected to study pay satisfaction as it relates to the desire to stay or leave a job for a simple reason. I had to either prove or disprove this as a driver for RN satisfaction. After spending more than half my life in healthcare, I knew my motivators were not superficial. Have the tables turned to a culture driven by pay as the only factor to consider when hiring and retaining top healthcare talent? I am here to stand proud and acclaim, "RNs are not leaving your organizations because of pay dissatisfaction. They are satisfied with pay and still want to leave, or they are dissatisfied with pay and don't want to leave." What does this tell you?

 It is time to refocus our efforts away from pay and compensation as the only factor to pay compensation as one of the factors. My research shows that RNs will stay in an organization when pay satisfaction is low but leave when it is high. I will not bore you with the theory I developed to explain this phenomenon, but I know it creates a whole new approach to what healthcare workers need and wants in these crazy times. For those who want to read my theory and view my dissertation, please ask me for a copy in the contact me or Linked In.  

Now that we got that out of the way, we can shift our thinking to efforts that genuinely matter. RNs and healthcare workers need to be compensated fairly and competitively, but they also want to work in a place attractive to their goals, interests, and beliefs. Let's revisit the opening statement on attraction marketing. Think of why you go to the places you go, hang around the people you do, and work where you work. Some factors first attract you and then hold on to you. Other factors first attract you and then disappoint you. The key to solving this problem is to go deep into the roots of the workplace culture. We as leaders must uncover reasons why a person would not want to work for us and then get in front of the issues. I hear too often, "let's not get into the weeds," in meetings, calls, and from healthcare experts nationwide. People, we "HAVE TO GET INTO THE WEEDS" or will never understand why our staff leaves. The harsh and painful truth is it is easy to guess and make fallacies about why your staff resigns.  

As a leader, you must first know why the staff leaves you. Yes, why did they leave you? This is a harsh statement, but it needs to be said. We make assumptions based on less personal reasons and generalizations as a defense mechanism. We need to face it, leading healthcare right now is terrible. My family and friends ask me why I do it. My why is intense, but I need the courage to accept that the staff is leaving me and not for more money. My research proves it, and it opened my eyes to stop making generalizations and hearsay and focus on the truth. This leads to my first requirement. I am not making a recommendation for you to consider. If you want to know why staff leaves, ask them.

  1. Conduct Exit Surveys: It is essential to hardwire a process for obtaining data on why people are leaving your organization. Leaders must put in the time to develop an approach to capture honest feedback without fear of retribution or "burning bridges" by the employee. You need to know the truth behind each of your employee's departures. Not all organizations are the same. Please get to know a deep culture that makes staff leave and then plan how to improve it. 
  2. Presence: Healthcare workers on the front lines want to see and hear from us—staff who show up need to know that their leaders will show up. When leaders create a strong presence, the team builds a closer bond and is more apt to share their struggles with you—more information results in more solutions that will improve the environment. 
  3. Place more Energy on Retention: When you stop the bleeding, you no longer worry about replacement blood. Place more energy and focus on retention and watch the shift. Happy staff talk and share just as unhappy staff do. Word of mouth from a happy healthcare worker is worth its weight in gold—presence, and exit interview data results in strategy. When strategy efforts work, staff take notice. 
  4. Safe Working Conditions:  Healthcare workers want to work in an environment that is safe and free from hazards, including exposure to infectious diseases.
  5. Opportunities for professional growth and development: Healthcare workers want opportunities to learn and advance their careers, whether through training, continuing education, or promotion opportunities
  6. Work-life balance: Healthcare workers often work long hours and irregular schedules, so they value flexible scheduling options and a healthy work-life balance.
  7. Meaningful work: Healthcare workers often find their work rewarding because they are helping others. They want to feel that their work is making a difference and that they are contributing to the well-being of others.
  8. Competitive compensation and benefits: Now, we can discuss pay and compensation. Healthcare workers want to be fairly compensated for their hard work and have access to benefits such as health insurance, retirement plans and paid time off. Notice how low on the list pay and compensation is. Although we must get this right to feel valued, we must place only some of our emphasis on this single factor. Salary and bonuses alone may attract and recruit, but when other factors are missing, staff will not stay. 

I hope you found value in this Post. My vision includes a strong healthcare workforce that meets the predicted patient demand. According to Haddad et al. (2022), the number of RNs needed to fill the demand between 2020 and 2030 is 275,000. First, we stop the bleeding, and then we attract future talent. If you found value in this Post, please share it with those who can benefit from the message. Go to the contact me form on this site or message me on LinkedIn for a copy of my dissertation proving RNs are not leaving because of Pay dissatisfaction. My research is just the tip of the iceberg for future work.  


Berlin, G., Lapointe, M., & Murphy, M. (2021). Nursing in 2021: Retaining the healthcare work force when we need it the most. McKinser & Company Healthcare Systems & Services. https://www.mckinsey.com/industries/healthcare-systems-and-services/our-insights/nursing-in-2021-retaining-the-healthcare-workforce-when-we-need-it-most

Haddad, L. M., Annamaraju, P., & Tony-Butler, T. J. (2022). Nursing shortage. National Library of Medicine. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK493175/

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