By Deanna Leonard, Vice President and General Manager – Professional Healthcare Apparel
Encompass Group, LLC
Nurses have been front and center since COVID-19 arrived in our country in early 2020. They stand out for the challenges they faced and overcame during the worst days of the pandemic – and their work in caring for those stricken with the virus continues every day. But nurses are human, and like all of us want to feel appreciated and rewarded for their hard work. The pandemic has made many nurses question their commitment to their profession. So it’s time for employers to find ways to show their gratitude and loyalty to these highly respected professionals.
Grace Under Pressure
More than half of the 3.8 million registered nurses in our country work in general medical and surgical hospitals, and provide most of our long-term care. Prior to the pandemic, there were also 920,655 licensed practical nurses/licensed vocational nurses in the U.S. These women and men went to work in early 2020, suddenly seeing people of all ages struggling to breathe, alone and afraid in hospitals and long-term care facilities. Nurses had to desperately search for sufficient personal protective equipment (PPE) that would enable them to continue to provide care and compassion. Many ended up reusing PPE and isolating themselves from their families to prevent the further spread of COVID.
But nurses just keep showing up. Since the pandemic began, they’ve been working extremely long hours, in stressful, overcrowded environments. Some came out of retirement because they knew they had the skills and fortitude to face this healthcare crisis. Once a nurse, always a nurse!
Sadly, healthcare workers have not been immune from the deadly virus. A comprehensive investigative report by The Guardian and KHN reveals that 3,607 U.S. healthcare workers died during the first year of the pandemic. Of those, nurses made up the largest group (32 percent).
Hope and Optimism on the Horizon
While some of the nurses working in hospitals and nursing homes during the pandemic have left or considered leaving healthcare, most of them are still on the job. Gratefully, we’re seeing emerging trends that should drive optimism in the nursing profession, such as:
- Unprecedented job growth
- Steady or increased salaries for RNs
- Greater participation in the enhanced Nurse Licensure Compact for travel nurses
- Higher value for bilingual nurses
- More nurses who specialize
- Increasing proportion of male nurses
- Growing tech savviness
- Postponed nurse retirements
- More awareness of common issues faced by nurses
The Right Perks Will Attract, Incent and Retain Nurses
Nurses want to be paid well, clearly understand their job duties, be surrounded by adequate staffing, have opportunities to further their careers, and work in a supportive environment. Besides these obvious requirements, what else can you do to attract and retain the best nurses?
Some hospitals and health systems are giving substantial signing bonuses to nurses in this extremely competitive market. According to Monster, employers are offering nurses other benefits too, such as flexible shifts, onsite child care, tuition reimbursement and scholarships, health club memberships, and free concierge services.
Here’s a perk you should consider: provide your nurses with uniform apparel and clean it for them. Supplied uniform apparel offers them a host of benefits:
- They save money and time by not buying and laundering uniforms themselves
- They can do their job well under any circumstances, knowing they have the right attire for every shift
- They feel better about their identity as a nurse, thanks to the boost of self-confidence and satisfaction from apparel provided by their employer
- They’re less worried about spreading infection outside the facility
- They’re readily identifiable as a nurse to patients, families and other employees, making them feel proud and safe
- They’re wearing high-quality professional attire that’s comfortable and stylish.
By supplying uniform apparel to your nurses, you also expand your brand awareness, while demonstrating your commitment to your employees and their professional appearance.
When you contract with a uniform apparel provider, choose one with a reliable order management/tracking/shipping/payment system, adequate supplies of all uniforms, a variety of product options, customizing capability, and top-quality brands, colors and fabrics that nurses prefer.
Make the extra effort to find ways to attract nurses to your facility, and encourage their development and longevity as employees. Show them that you value their devotion and expertise. It will be a win-win situation for them and your care facility.