I'm not a nurse, but do have a few in my family and have worked with these caring professionals over the last 25 years. I am at the tail end of the baby boom generation and also wonder if there will be any nurses left to care for me when I enter my twilight years!
This week, there was a wonderful article about retiring nurses in H&HN and a report released by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) on older workers.
The GAO Report encourages employers to plan for the future by creating strategies to help retain older workers. These strategies can include flexible or reduced hours, mentoring, training and phased retirement. Employers have good reason to retain older workers, due to the growing skill gap opened up by retirements.
The Retirement Boom? article points out that the weak economy overall, including layoffs in other employment sectors, has affected many nurses’ households. This has been one of the factors coaxing RNs back into the workforce and encouraging others to remain in their jobs.
But how long will this last? The large baby boomer generation, including many nurses, is looking to maximize their lifestyle in ways we haven’t seen before! Business as usual won't work and hospitals will have to be creative in designing an effective workplace for the future.
The article offers some suggestions, including
Decrease physical demands using unit design, equipment and technology.
Shift roles so work is more appealing to older nurses, perhaps alternating patient care with other duties.
Allow older nurses to work creatively with shifts, shortening them or letting them pick schedules that fit their lifestyles.
Provide financial or other incentives for employees to stay, such as giving part-timers access to health care, increasing vacation time or increasing the value of their retirement benefits if they wait to retire.
Consider ways that technology can play a role in easing the burden on older nurses.
Sometimes, unintentionally, older workers get the message that hospitals don’t care if they stay. So, let your nurses know that you do care! Conduct a workplace assessment to identify ways your organization can attract and keep good nurses working!