Nursing retention: optimized facility management can help

Amid the nursing shortage, healthcare leaders leveraging facilities strategies can create safer, less stressful and more cost-effective care environments

Nursing shortages are a major risk factor for hospitals, but some healthcare organizations are finding a way to alleviate the pressure by optimizing facility management. By reimagining your health system’s approach to facility management, you can enhance recruitment and retention, financial performance, and patient outcomes.

The nationwide nursing shortage pre-dates the COVID-19 pandemic. Aging baby boomers required more care just as the nursing industry started experiencing a wave of retirements and lower nursing school enrollments. The pandemic exacerbated the pressure, with many healthcare workers burning out due to the high stress environment of overrun hospitals and heightened personal health risks.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that through 2030 there will be an annual gap of over 195,000 registered nurses needed to care for patients. The vicious cycle of chronic under-staffing puts significant cost pressure on health systems, which are paying higher wages to attract and retain nurses.

While human resources departments are mainly responsible for recruiting and retaining workers, facilities teams can also play a front-line role. Skilled facility managers create safer working conditions and ensure smoother operations so nurses can focus on what matters most: providing the best care to their patients. Optimizing facility management generates savings that can offset higher nurses salaries and drive financial performance.

Shaping and maintaining facilities that empower care

More than a behind-the-scenes function, facility operations can profoundly impact healthcare settings. It may be easy to overlook when everything’s functioning correctly, but flickering lights, fluctuating temperatures and leaky pipes can instantly become a nuisance and potentially dangerous hazard for employees and patients.

Today’s nurses are constantly interrupted by facility issues that make their work harder. Pre-COVID, on average, nurses were interrupted every 11 minutes, according to JLL research. Those interruptions directly impact patient care, safety and experience.

With new approaches to facility management, such as zone maintenance, you can better plan for these disruptive operations When maintenance mechanics function properly with clinical teams, they foster safer, more comfortable and better-controlled environments.

By maintaining heat exchangers, boilers and chillers for seamless functionality that prevents failure, facility teams can keep surgical suites to the precise temperatures needed for surgery and equipment sterilization. Creating more comfortable and consistent temperatures in other areas to support environmental well-being.

Nurses also want to know their own health is being prioritized. They want to trust the air they breathe is clean, which facility teams can deliver on by facilitating proper air filtration and negative/positive airflow. Additionally, optimized facility management can substantially reduce health and safety incidents. One healthcare organization, was able to bring its incident rate down by 78%, while reducing the amount of time employees needed off work to recover.

Overall, minimizing facility interruptions and providing safer, more comfortable environments reduces stress for nurses, enhances employee experience and retention, and ultimately improves patient outcomes.

And you can do all that while uncovering significant savings opportunities..

How optimized facility management yields cost savings

Optimizing facilities management unlocks savings that can then be leveraged in the proverbial talent war to attract and retain nurses. In one large healthcare organization, an optimization program resulted in enough savings opportunities to fund an additional sixteen nurse practitioners for three years.

Following are examples of savings you can unlock with facility management optimization:

  • Agile and efficient operations and maintenance avert unplanned equipment failure. Reducing failure rates by 17% can curb energy and maintenance costs by 30%.
  • Shared services solutions can help guide your in-house team to apply new skills related to HVAC maintenance and other self-operating systems, averting the steeper costs of outside engineering firms.
  • Greater procurement power and supplier optimization can reduce purchasing costs.
  • Resilient facilities with energy management systems drives business intelligence and sustainability goals while optimizing energy spend.
  • Compliance-savvy management supports cost avoidance, keeping you always ready for Joint Commission surveys without having to pay consulting fees.
  • Safety-oriented facility management can save significant costs from lost-time injuries. BLS data indicates the healthcare industry pays around $4.44 billion annually in workers compensation for injuries such as overexertion and falls.
  • Skills training and engagement tools can empower facility managers by reducing turnover—and allievate costs associated with training new hires.

Optimized facility management can save healthcare organizations at least 12-18% of their current spend, which can in turn be used to recruit and retain nurses.

Win over nurses - and more - with optimized facility management

The nursing shortage is challenging healthcare organizations to find original ways to spark nurse commitment. By optimizing facilities management hospitals can shape an environment that enhances nurse and patient experience, to differentiate your organization from the competition and attract top talent.

The workplace environment can play a significant role in attracting and retaining nurses. Is your team ready to deliver on its full potential?

Talk to one of our experts to learn more.

Healthcare Performance Optimization Program

Methodist Health System has transformed their performance and improved the patient experience through a partnership with JLL.