Hiring nurses? It's about more than just wages.

Image of Lauren Hastings, managing director of institutional sales at Principal,

Managing Director, Principal Financial Group®

A nurse smiling as she’s talking with a little girl and her mother

The new "now" for nurses.

Turnover rates among nurses are slowly coming down to pre-pandemic levels.1 Which concurs with our research showing that 74% of nurses are satisfied with their current job and only 18% are actively searching for a new job.2

However, there’s still significant shortages as many nurses left the profession during the pandemic.1 Health care systems are left asking what they can do to retain their current team members while recruiting for those who left because of retirement, high stress, and/or burnout.

Insights from our recent survey show that health care professionals, particularly nurses, are looking for more than hiring bonuses and higher wages.2

Now, don’t get me wrong, competitive compensation tops their list when evaluating a new job (80%). But, if you’ve only been using compensation as a recruiting and retention benchmark—you’re most likely missing an opportunity to focus on other things nurses care about such as a culture where they feel valued (69%), incentive pay (57%) and other financial health benefits (52%).

95% of the nurses surveyed said they find their work meaningful, so while it’s fair to say they love their job, many don’t feel the love back. When asked if their employer cares about their financial well-being, just 22% agreed. And only 1 in 3 nurses feel their employer cares about their mental health. This is 45% less than how other health care workers feel.

What can an employer do to improve this outlook?

Consider a total rewards strategy

Generationally, the majority of nurses (51%) are Baby Boomers, ages 58-67. And what’s typically on the minds of Baby Boomers? Saving for retirement. Of the nurses surveyed, over 38% say they’d leave for a similar job at another employer for better retirement benefits.

Such retirement benefits might look like:

  • An employer match of 6% or higher.
  • Offering multiple retirement plan types using a single service provider.
  • Access to a financial professional.
  • Education and access to in-plan retirement income options.
Helping all nurses better understand their retirement benefits could also go a long way towards them feeling valued. Our survey found that nurses don’t feel comfortable with the retirement planning process compared to other health care workers and they’re uncomfortable making investment decisions. This likely explains why 47% of nurses feel behind schedule when it comes to planning for retirement.

Review your financial health offer

And it doesn't stop at retirement benefits. Nearly 40% of nurses say they’d leave for a similar job at another employer for better employer benefits other than retirement benefits. As mentioned before, 52% want financial health benefits. These could include:

  • Debt management and budgeting education
  • Emergency savings programs
  • Student loan repayment
  • Will preparation and estate planning
  • Investment education

So before using compensation as the main recruiting benchmark, it’s important to analyze your workforce and who you are trying to recruit. It may be possible to use and mold retirement and financial health benefits that can best fit their needs and wants. Meeting nurses where they are in their lives beyond compensation can go a long way in helping retention and recruiting efforts.

Want to learn more?

Check out these helpful resources and materials below. Still have questions? Reach out to your local Principal® representative or support team.
young man sitting at laptop while smiling.


2The Principal® Retirement Security Survey. Health care participant results, June 2022

FSA/EA - Defined benefit measurements, if applicable, are for the sole purpose of providing the plan sponsor information with respect to their plan or plans evaluated. Related analysis presented is/will be completed based on the plan’s participant data, provisions, and actuarial assumptions and methods incorporated into the DB plans most recent funding and/or accounting measurements. Analysis using different information and at future measurement dates may differ significantly from the current analysis.

The subject matter in this communication is educational only and provided with the understanding that Principal® is not rendering legal, accounting, investment or tax advice. You should consult with appropriate counsel, financial professionals, and other advisors on all matters pertaining to legal, tax, investment or accounting obligations and requirements.

Insurance products and plan administrative services provided through Principal Life Insurance Company®. Securities offered through Principal Securities, Inc., member SIPC and/or independent broker-dealers. Principal Life, and Principal Securities® are members of the Principal Financial Group®, Des Moines, IA 50392.

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