McKinsey: Nurses stay motivated with “meaningful work”

The pandemic has deeply affected the healthcare world. COVID cases have brought upon unprecedented workloads and stress to nurses worldwide. There was already a shortage of nurses, but these conditions have sped up this trend, especially in America. According to McKinsey, surveyed HCPs who intend to leave the industry shot up by 10% in the US, between February 2021 and November 2021. Among the thousands of nurses interviewed across six countries, between 28 to 38% of professionals wanted to leave their direct patient healthcare jobs.

More than half of correspondents noted that their intentions had “nothing to do with the pandemic.” In countries like Brazil and Singapore, 20% of nurses reported that they were less likely to leave. Though the effect of COVID on nurses’ professional decisions are “variable,” these trends still point to a widespread fatigue with the industry. It is clear that facilities and nursing staffing agencies will have their hands full in the coming years.

Yet CNAs, RNs and nurses of all levels carry on with their work. What drives these people to stay in the face of such adversity?

The McKinsey survey highlights a number of motivating factors. Interestingly, compensation was not the top motivation across correspondents. Of the six countries, Japan was the only area where it even cracked the top 3. The most important motivating forces, across all countries, were “meaningful work, a positive, engaging work environment and feeling safe/healthy.”

It makes a lot of sense.. Healthcare jobs are already demanding without a historic pandemic disrupting the workflow. When you feel that your work is contributing to something meaningful and important, it motivates you in a way that money alone cannot. “Just” compensation will not convince nursing assistants when they can make money outside the clinical setting. A positive work environment feeds into this, as it unites like-minded individuals under a singular vision and shared goal.

Now more than ever, facilities must work to retain, grow and draw nurses if they want to fill their nurse staffing vacancies. Though not comprehensive or unquestionable, the McKinsey survey gives us a good idea of what that might entail.