The Real Cost of Turnover in Healthcare Staffing

In light of The Great Resignation, there is a growing labor shortage in healthcare. At a time when we need our healthcare professionals the most, they are experiencing burnout like never before and leaving the bedside, and even the healthcare workforce entirely.

According to the American Hospital Association (AHA), “between 2019 and 2020, job vacancies for various types of nursing personnel increased by up to 30%, and for respiratory therapists by 31%. AHA also states that according to an analysis of EMSI data, “there will be a shortage of up to 3.2 million health care workers by 2026.”

It is understandable that our healthcare workers are looking elsewhere for work right now. They have chosen a difficult field, and it takes a toll. But it’s important to support our healthcare workers right now and retain great talent in order to avoid the costs that come from staffing turnover.

Costs of Turnover

Turnover can happen for a variety of reasons, but the costs associated with staffing issues impact both provider and patient as well as the larger healthcare system. The cost of turnover goes far beyond just monetary. From onboarding to patient to outcomes to team morale, turnover costs healthcare systems time, resources, and energy.

Financial Impact

The 2021 NSI National Health Care Retention & RN Staffing Report found that of the healthcare systems surveyed, the average hospital turned over a staggering 90.8% of its workforce since 2016. From a financial perspective regarding registered nurses, this report found that the average cost of turnover for a bedside RN is $40,038 and that each percentage change in turnover will either cost or save $270,800 per year. This RN turnover alone costs an average hospital between $3.6 million to $6.5 million per year.

Hiring and Training

The hiring process can be expensive and time-consuming. A recent study from ADP showed that it costs employers an average of $4,129 and takes an average of 42 days to fill an open position. That’s for a regular position, not a highly skilled and specialized healthcare professional. That can take an average of 89 days.

No matter how skilled, or how long someone has worked in a profession, it still takes time to acclimate to new surroundings too. There’s also a cost associated with onboarding and training a new hire. The cost of hiring new staff requires a time commitment and valuable resources in order to get a new employee ready for work.


Working smart is crucial but working safely is just as important. Constant staffing shortages make it almost impossible to build the necessary teamwork and trust among colleagues that is needed on healthcare teams.

Not only do you lose your team dynamic, but high turnover can also lead to unsafe staff-patient ratios that cost both productivity and positive outcomes. According to a nursing unit turnover study, reduced turnover can also reduce safety concerns for patients like their length of stay, falls, and medication errors, while also increasing satisfaction scores.

Patient Outcomes

As safety concerns increase, positive patient outcomes can diminish. Without adequate staffing, it’s hard to provide the best care possible. Patients can also lose confidence in healthcare organizations when they don’t believe they are receiving the best care and that, in turn, can damage the healthcare organization’s reputation.

Team Morale

Some causes of staffing turnover are more obvious and easier to quantify like impacts to patient care, pay, or lack of training. Team morale can be more difficult to identify and address, but the impact on healthcare workers is very closely tied to retention and turnover.

According to a 2021 Vivian survey, “nearly three-fourths (72%) report hospital morale has gotten worse in their hospital or health care facility since this time last year.”

This can impact not only their outlook on their current job but the healthcare industry altogether. The survey also found that “53% of healthcare workers surveyed don’t feel optimistic about the future of healthcare in the U.S. (only 20% felt optimistic).”

Healthcare Staffing Solutions

The pandemic has forced changes within our healthcare system. It is important to implement practices that reduce turnover among healthcare staff. It is our responsibility to support our healthcare workers now and rebuild a better vision for the future. That includes promoting retention, putting patient care first, and listening to the needs of our healthcare workforce.

If you’re looking for staffing solutions for your facility or healthcare system, Supplemental Health Care has a range of services for your staffing needs including Managed Service Provider (MSP) programs to help procure and maintain temporary staff, simplifying the staffing process. Contact us today to discuss workforce solutions with our team!