Most of America’s registered nurses report being “fully engaged” or “engaged” at work, according to the results of a new survey from market research and consulting company PRC. But the level of engagement varied by generation, shift time and care setting.
Survey responses came from 1,923 registered nurses at 37 hospitals nationwide. The nurses answered 34 questions on nurse quality indicators, engagement, burnout and retention.
The nurse quality indicators category consisted of 25 questions broken down into seven sub-categories, including fundamentals of quality nursing care, autonomy, RN-to-RN teamwork and collaboration, adequacy of resources and staffing, interpersonal relationships, leadership access and responsiveness, and professional development.
According to the survey, 45.1% of the participants reported being fully engaged at work, 40.5% said they are engaged and 14.4% are not engaged. Fully engaged nurses, PRC said, go above and beyond in their commitment to the success of their employer. Engaged nurses like their employer well enough, “but they don’t love it,” according to PRC. Unengaged nurses are just that, they do the bare minimum needed while being “ambivalent to the success of their hospital,” PRC said.
Levels of engagement among respondents varied by their generation, shift worked and care setting. Millennial, night shift and emergency department nurses were more likely to report being unengaged compared with members of other groups. Millennials — those born between 1981 and 1996 — showed a lower level of engagement than older workers.
“It is no secret that millennials have different expectations from leadership and their work environments than previous generations have had,” PRC said, adding that because these individuals are future nurse leaders, “it is imperative that employers fully engage millennial nurses.”
Day shift nurses were more fully engaged than their night shift counterparts.
“As a best practice to address these discrepancies, leadership can find ways for night shift nurses to experience opportunities to interact with administration and participate in team-building activities,” PRC suggested.
Emergency departments had the highest rate of unengaged nurses, at 18%, followed by inpatient settings, at 14.7%, and other settings, at 14.3%.
Feelings of burnout remain prevalent among registered nurses, according to the survey. Nurses ranked staffing shortages as the top cause of burnout and attrition dogging their profession in a previous, unrelated survey. According to the PRC survey, “97% or nurses that felt burned out, yet planned to remain in their organization, reported experiencing feelings of emotional exhaustion.”
Overall, 82% of responding nurses said they plan to remain at their organization for the next two years. The majority of fully engaged nurses said they intend to stay put, and “interestingly, over 50% of unengaged nurses also do not plan to leave, presenting leadership opportunities for performance management. Of those planning to leave, Millennials are more at risk than other generations.”