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Nursing Shortage: A Managers Challenge

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Nursing shortage: A Managers challenge

Michele Moritz

Grand Canyon University

Nursing Leadership and Management


Kelly Huffstutler-Petty

June 07, 2013

Nursing shortage: A Managers challenge

The elderly are making up a greater percentage of the total population than ever before. This trend will continue and the percentage of elderly will grow for the next several years. It is no secret that the elderly demand the greater percentage of healthcare. The need for nurses has been hard to meet in the past and appears to be a growing problem. Working short staffed is a top nursing complaint. Twenty eight percent of new hires ages 25-34 quit in the first 2 years. This percentage drops to 12 percent in the older ages of 35-54. (Forest & Kleiner, 2011) Leadership and management skills are important aspects of recruiting and retaining nurses. This paper will discuss what Leadership/Management skills or styles may improve a Units nurse retention percentage.

The manager's goal is to retain the right nurses to maintain a viable unit. The Leaders goal is to maintain high employee satisfaction. The end results, to maintain a viable unit and to achieve high employee satisfaction go hand in hand. (Huber, 2010)

The successful leadership ability to inspire followers is important in maintaining morale at a high level. Followers are important in successful leading. A leader's power comes from the followers following. Being flexible whenever possible is important. An example of being flexible would be for a Nurse leading to allow an employee a day off if that employee can find coverage for the shift, even if the coverage results in overtime. This may be an unpopular decision for the manager's fiscal responsibility but the loss down the road may be worse. It is very expensive to replace employees. Flexibility is possible and often very helpful but some employees will take advantage of your flexible style. One employee taking advantage is often frustrating to the other employees. Listen to your employees and get to know and understand them so it you know when being flexible is appropriate.

Empower employees. Give them ownership in the unit. Let them know that their special abilities are making a difference in "our unit" Empowerment not only helps morale it also adds to the unit idea pool. A high percentage of new young nurses leave within 2 years of hire. Mentor your young nurses. Another important part of leading is to be visible to your followers. Remember it is impossible to lead without followers. Followers are much more likely to follow a visible leader. In unit meetings it is important to communicate a vision for the unit. Let your employees know why and where they are following you. A vision gives meaning to the daily grind of a difficult nursing job which promotes morale. (Huber, 2010)

The manager's approach to maintain nurse employees has much overlap with the leaders approach. In doing the necessary delegating of responsibilities for the accomplishment of tasks may still have the side effect of empowerment. The realization that the unit cannot run without proper staff may lead to many of the same activities. The manager may balance the books in a way to make financial incentives possible for the retention of employees. This author has seen managers use forced overtime to staff during crisis. This often creates low morale and harms employee retention. Good managers run a tight ship. This can create a smooth running unit which enhances employee satisfaction. A delicate balance needs to be maintained. Too much of any one thing can cause the opposite of the desired effect. A tight ship with no flexibility can cause low morale and too much flexibility can cause disorder and confusion. This also may lead to a lower morale. (White, 2005)

The authoritarian leadership style is one on complete control. All decisions are made by the leader. Authoritarian leadership often leads to feelings of no control and resentment of followers.



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