What Makes Healthcare Workers Stay in Their Jobs?

August 9, 2023
Patient and doctor pleasantly discussing results on clipboard
Many, if not all, industries are experiencing challenges hiring and retaining employees. Healthcare is no exception. Nearly half—48%—of all healthcare professionals have quit or are currently considering leaving their jobs, according to Sermo.
“The healthcare industry is facing considerable challenges in recruiting and retaining top talent,” explains PreCheck. “With an aging population and a growing demand for services, healthcare organizations are seeking qualified professionals to meet patient needs.” 

Improving employee engagement and providing fulfilling work are two strategies to improve retention and employee satisfaction. Healthcare workers want more than a paycheck—they want to perform work that makes a positive impact.

In fact,  80% of healthcare workers say finding fulfillment in their daily work is important to them, while 70% say their goal at work is to feel fulfilled in what they do, according to a company that offers workplace culture solutions.

O.C. Tanner, a company specializing in employee recognition software, explains that employees who don’t feel fulfilled at work are:

  • 399% more likely to actively look for another job
  • 340% more likely to leave their job within a year
  • 47% less likely to put in a great deal of effort to help the organization succeed
  • 71% less likely to promote the company as a great place to work

Many organizations focus on salary and benefits to motivate employees and encourage retention. While money and perks are important, healthcare workers also want a culture that aligns with their personal values.
“Majorities of workers who quit a job in 2021 say low pay (63%), no opportunities for advancement (63%) and feeling disrespected at work (57%) were reasons why they quit,” according to Pew Research. “At least a third say each of these were major reasons why they left.” 
Organizations may be surprised to know that many employees who quit their jobs—more than half according to Forbes—felt disrespected at work.  “From a lack of transparency in company-wide decisions to inappropriate or dismissive behavior from one’s leadership team, disrespect in the workplace comes in all shapes and sizes,” Forbes explains.
To improve retention rates, facilities need to ensure staff feel respected and have a sense of belonging. This is especially important for millennials and Gen Z employees. In addition, facilities also need to:

  • Address gender inequality in hiring and promotions
  • Provide self-care for managers
  • Empower, reward and recognize employees

These statistics should be a wake-up call for healthcare organizations—they need to build a sense of trust, respect and fairness with employees. Organizational culture is important to ensuring employee satisfaction. 


Staffing agencies play an important role in filling employment vacancies, for both short and long-term appointments. Demand for staffing services has increased rapidly. Staff Industry Analysts estimates that healthcare staffing reached $64.4 billion in 2022, more than triple the market size in 2019. The traveling nurse segment makes up more than half of that market at 63%, which has seen a significant six-fold increase since 2019.
The predicted job growth rate for nurse practitioners is an incredible 40% through 2031, notes the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. According to Grand View Research, demand for temporary healthcare staffing is also fueled by an aging population. It stated there is “increasing demand for temporary staffing for medical professionals due to the rising geriatric population and the lack of skilled nursing staff across the country.”
To help fill job openings, some healthcare organizations have turned to travel and per diem nurses, but this entails a jump in pay rates. When nursing demand increased during the pandemic, hourly rates charged by traveling nursing staffing agencies increased by 213%.
Grand View Research notes that travel and per diem nurses are paid much more than traditional nurses—$90,000 to $100,000 for travel nurses compared to $50,000 to $60,000 for full-time nurses. “High compensation, flexible working hours, opportunity to travel and greater exposure to various medical systems are factors due to which the preference for allied healthcare, per diem, travel nurse, or locum tenens as a career option is increasing,” the research firm notes.
The appeal of traveling nurse opportunities has inspired some nurses to make a change. “As travel nurse salaries rose, so did the number of nurses who quit their full-time employment to make more money traveling,” according to NurseJournal.

“A work environment that’s enjoyable and exciting can benefit both employees and the clinic.”


Work can and should be fun. A work environment that’s enjoyable and exciting can benefit both employees and the clinic.
“Though fun at work is sometimes thought to be a distraction, research suggests that it has a positive impact on engagement, creativity and purpose—increasing employee retention and reducing turnover,” according to Harvard Business Review.
Research supports the idea of employees being motivated when they feel a sense of belonging.
“The majority (76%) of healthcare employees consider their workplace to be a community,” according to O.C. Tanner. “Employees thrive when they feel they belong to a strong workplace community.”
Healthcare organizations that deliver engaging employee experiences that allow staff to grow, perform fulfilling work and feel like they belong to a community will improve retention for their workers at all levels of the company.

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