If you’ve ever been on a date with someone who’s constantly checking the time or not paying attention to what you’re saying, someone who clearly would prefer to be elsewhere, imagine this:

You’re a patient in a hospital and the nurses assigned to you are wishing they were somewhere else. Not mentally present. Totally disengaged. How safe would you feel? How confident would you be in the quality of care you’re receiving? Imagine you’re that nurse’s employer: Would you tolerate losing tens of thousands of dollars in productivity per disengaged nurse?

Last year a remarkable study titled  “Nurse Engagement: What are the Contributing Factors for Success?,”  was published that outlined some starting realities about nurses’ commitment to their jobs and their degree of job satisfaction.

Most simply, the study defines “engagement” as describing nurses’ “commitment to and satisfaction with their jobs.” And engagement “correlates directly with critical safety, quality, and patient experience outcomes.”

The OJIN study reports that fully 15 percent of nurses are disengaged. Why focus on engagement? Engaged nurses are less fatigued. They experience less burnout — physically, psychologically and in terms of longevity. Less burnout influences better organizational outcome. Beyond the obvious potential for awful healthcare outcomes, the business costs can be devastating.

A billion here, a billion there…

We’ve touched upon the high costs of nursing turnover before. The OJIN study goes deeper, using nurse-engagement metrics developed by Press Ganey Associates, a provider of patient-experience measurement, performance analytics, and strategic advisory solutions for healthcare organizations.

The study tells us that each disengaged nurse costs an organization $22,200 in lost revenue as a result of lack of productivity (Schaufenbuel, 2013). And that’s a conservative estimate. For a hospital with 100 nurses, disengagement shears off $333,000 per year in lost productivity. Multiply that by 15,000 nurses in a large healthcare system, and the potential loss skyrockets to $50 million.

Disengagement obviously influences nurse retention. And here’s the kicker:

The most engaged nurses are the least experienced — “those who have been with the organization less than six months.” More disturbingly, the data show that the most engaged nurses are those who work farthest from the bedside. “In other words,” the study says, “those nurses providing direct patient care are among the least engaged” [emphasis added].

Disengagement leads to high turnover and added costs beyond lost productivity. According to the latest National Healthcare Retention & RN Staffing Report (NSI Nursing Solutions, Inc, 2016), the turnover rate for RNs in 2015 was 17.2 percent, up from 16.4 percent the year before. Translated into dollars:  “The average cost of turnover for a bedside RN ranges from $37,700 to $58,400 resulting in the average hospital losing $5.2 million to $8.1 million” That turns into billions a year. Pretty soon you’re talking real money.

Driving engagement

The top three drivers of nurse engagement, according to the OJIN study, are these, framed within the nurses’ perspective:

  1. I like the work I do.
  2. My work is meaningful.
  3. I enjoy working with my coworkers.

Drivers like these lie within the “employee domain” in contrast with the organizational domain. So how might employers support these employee-domain drivers in nurses’ work lives?

One way to do it — and to respond directly to these top three engagement drivers — is being pioneered by tekMountain and its parent company CastleBranch through EngagedNurse, a new digital community that can improve nurse engagement.

Nurses and nursing itself need all the support possible.

Enter EngagedNurse, an online collaborative community and resource center where nurses can share their stories while offering advice and mentorship to each other.

For more information, join EngagedNurse on the following platforms:






This blog was produced by the tekMountain Team of Sean AhlumAmanda SipesZach Cioffi and Beth Roddy with lead writer Bill DiNome.

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