Retirement plans recruit, retain

Hospitals and health systems facing a workforce shortage see retirement benefits as a key factor in employee recruitment and retention, suggests a new survey from the American Hospital Association and Diversified Investment Advisors.

The survey of more than 300 U.S. hospitals and health systems focused on respondents’ defined contribution plan characteristics and associated challenges. It found retirement benefits are frequently used as a recruitment and retention tool, and that plan sponsors are providing more investment advice, education and ancillary services, and new and more precisely focused investment options, said Chris Cumming, business leader for defined contribution plans at Diversified Investment Advisors.

For example, most plans are liberalizing age and service requirements and immediately vesting employees in employer contributions to attract and retain workers, the survey indicates. The survey also suggests that the mix of investment options has changed to include a greater number of bond, real estate, and emerging product category funds in response to recent volatility in the equity market.

The survey report, "Retirement Plan Trends in Today’s Healthcare Market — 2003," can be purchased at

Labor urged to exempt health care professionals

Warning that it could exacerbate an already dangerous shortage of nurses in the United States, 10 leading nursing associations have urged the U.S. Department of Labor to exempt health care professionals from a proposed regulation that could result in a large number of registered nurses losing access to overtime pay.

The regulation, "Defining and Delimiting the Exemptions for Executive, Administrative, Professional, Outside Sales and Computer Employees," could create situations where "a cluster of nurses over the salary threshold will not receive payment for their overtime; whereas others in the same unit, who are paid less, will receive payment for their overtime. If this occurs, these situations will create extreme dissatisfaction, likely resulting in the loss of more experienced nurses from the health care system," the groups warned.

"Changes in the longstanding practice of paid overtime for nurses will create job dissatisfaction in the nurse work force and many more early retirements and career changes will result," predicted Gail Kincaide, executive director of the Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric, and Neonatal Nurses, one of the 10 organizations.

Schedules, pay matter to nurses

But those cheesy T-shirts don’t

What matters to your nurses? The ability to schedule their jobs around their lives, according to a survey of 811 RNs. Conducted by Bernard Hodes Group and Nursing Spectrum, the survey asked questions about perceptions of employers before they were hired, how the reality related to those perceptions, and even what RNs look for in an employment ad.

Here are some of the results:

• Surveyed RNs selected work schedules, growth opportunities and commuting distance as the primary reasons for choosing their present employer.

• Overall, RN satisfaction centers on work schedules, coworkers, and opportunities to learn; dissatisfaction is fueled by a lack of being valued, inadequate communications, and insufficient compensation.

• If empowered as upper management, RNs surveyed indicated that the key areas they would address are: compensation, performance incentives, and the addition of benefits and flexible schedules.

• Local newspapers, typically consulted on a weekly basis, are seen by RNs as a good source of job leads, as are Internet-appropriate employment sites and job boards.

• Respondents appear to be equally divided between brochures and web sites as a preferred medium for researching prospective employers.

• The vast majority of RNs would or have referred job candidates to their current employer, and feel that bonuses or prizes are effective motivators for such referrals.

Random comments

When asked what one thing should be changed about nursing to attract more people to the profession nurses answered:

• "We need to cut the cutesy nurse crap, which is so offensive — all the T-shirts like Nurses Call the Shots’ and Nurses Have the Courage to Care.’ All the teddy bears and angels really have to go. By promoting this girly image, we provoke others to patronize us."

• "Many older nurses forget they were not born nurses. Preceptorship is learning and teaching, not having the new nurse do the work for you and being overly critical."

"Fire any manager who invents a new form to fill out."

• "It has never made sense to me why executives of a hospital feel it is more appropriate to invest millions of dollars in fancy new buildings than to adequately staff the ones they already have."

The entire survey is available at the Bernard Hodes Group web site: