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What is a nurse satisfaction survey?

11 min read
With nursing shortages looming, nurse satisfaction is a rising priority in the healthcare industry. Uncovering and addressing pain points for nurses is more critical than ever. Learn how a nurse satisfaction survey can be used to boost talent retention and create a more productive nursing workforce.

Why is nurse satisfaction important?

In the hospital, nurses are at the forefront of patient care. From assessing patient needs to monitoring treatment, nurses play a pivotal role in the hospital experience.

However, hospitals are under pressure to deliver more with less; nurses are often stretched thin by staff shortages and competing priorities, and 2 out of 3 nurses are currently considering leaving the profession to escape this burden. The question is, how can healthcare providers improve nurse job satisfaction and support them more effectively?

What are the challenges?

Burnout and satisfaction of clinical staff have been a challenge in the healthcare industry for many years, but the COVID-19 pandemic added unfamiliar and unprecedented hurdles. The resulting staff shortages have put extra pressure on nurses, leading to raised expectations regarding the workplace experience.

Of course, administrators who modernize their listening approach are better positioned to ensure their nurses are satisfied and are equipped to proactively address many of the issues threatening nurses’ intent to stay. This includes implementing tools to capture overall satisfaction in the workplace.

How satisfied are nurses with their jobs?

Overall satisfaction among nurses is on the decline. Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, nurse job satisfaction has fallen by 20 percent. Only 32 percent of nurses report feeling very or completely satisfied with their jobs. When asked how they feel about their jobs, the top three feelings reported by nurses are exhausted, overwhelmed, and irritable.

One in three registered nurses experiences burnout, which impacts the quality of care for patients and leads to higher turnover. Furthermore, nurses are most likely to leave the profession due to insufficient staffing levels, inadequate pay, and lack of support at work.

As a consequence, over the next three years, the US healthcare system is expected to see a shortage of up to 450,000 nurses as a result of burnout and decreased job satisfaction.

Nursing survey results

It’s clear that improving nurse job satisfaction is a priority in the healthcare industry, but healthcare leaders must understand what drives higher nurse satisfaction to take action to address the challenges nurses face in their roles.

And one of the most effective ways to do this is with a nurse satisfaction survey.

What is a nurse satisfaction survey?

A nurse satisfaction survey is a type of employee engagement survey designed to capture insights surrounding the factors affecting nurse job satisfaction. The questionnaires are an effective tool to help managers make data-driven decisions to improve the satisfaction of the nurses within a healthcare organisation.




What is the purpose of a satisfaction survey?

Healthcare leaders and nursing administration can’t take the right steps to improve nurse satisfaction without understanding nurse perceptions about their experiences in the workplace. A nurse satisfaction survey collects actionable feedback from nurses on the factors that contribute to their job satisfaction. This takes the guesswork out of determining what makes a satisfied, loyal, and productive nursing staff.

How do you measure nurse satisfaction?

Traditionally, many organisations have relied on an annual employee feedback process or a simple job satisfaction scale to measure nurse satisfaction levels. This is simply not enough to drive action and improve job satisfaction in the nursing practice.

A more modern approach to satisfaction measurement is needed to collect real-time, actionable insights from your nursing staff. Here are three important things to do when creating a nurse satisfaction survey.

Use the right technology

Simply asking nurses for feedback isn’t enough. To achieve most success with your nurse satisfaction survey, you’ll need the right tools and technology to gather and analyze your feedback. A scalable platform will let you start small but will evolve along with your organisation.

Engage the right people

Before you begin administering job satisfaction surveys to your nurses, you’ll need to decide whose input to include. Make sure everyone knows their role in the process and empower managers with access to tools and technology to analyze feedback and take action.

Ask the right survey questions

To improve nurse satisfaction, you need a comprehensive view of your nurses’ experiences. An effective nurse satisfaction survey collects feedback from nursing staff at regular intervals across the entire employee journey within a healthcare organisation.

Uncover drivers of satisfaction

Survey questions should aim to uncover the drivers of nurse satisfaction. Gather feedback along all touchpoints where your nurses interact with management, patients, physicians, and other employees.

Nurse satisfaction can be affected by a wide range of factors including patient care, work environment, working conditions, work life balance, interprofessional relationships, hospital leadership, training, and professional development, compensation and benefits, autonomy, career advancement, and technology.

Ask open-ended survey questions

Open-ended questions can help you to understand the true sentiment and emotion behind nurses’ survey responses. This can help you uncover challenges you wouldn’t have known to look for. This also allows nurses to make suggestions that can inspire action for improvement.

Examples of nurse satisfaction survey questions

A nurse satisfaction survey may look similar to a typical employee satisfaction survey. However, the survey questions should be reflective of the nurse’s role. Some examples of nurse satisfaction survey questions include:

  • I am satisfied with the teamwork and cooperation of the nurses at this hospital.
  • I am satisfied with the education and training opportunities available to me.
  • I am satisfied with the nursing leadership’s responsiveness to my questions and concerns.
  • I am satisfied with the amount of recognition I receive for my work.
  • I am satisfied with my level of involvement in making decisions outside of the day-to-day nursing care at this hospital.
  • I am satisfied with the collaboration between nurses and other teams (physicians, technicians, radiologists, etc.).
  • I am satisfied with the amount of flexibility I am given to meet both work and personal needs.
  • I am satisfied with the coordination of work on my team.

How do you improve nurse satisfaction?

Gathering data using a nurse satisfaction survey is a great start toward improving satisfaction and engagement among nurses. But for change to happen, you have to act on the data you collect.

Here are the ways you can use nurse satisfaction survey results to drive action, and how Qualtrics can help.

Identify trends and gaps

Utilise analytics to identify trends in your nurse satisfaction survey results. Metrics can be used to prioritise actions, develop improvement plans, and measure the effectiveness of your efforts over time.

Qualtrics’ dashboards allow you to slice and dice your data to easily visualise survey results and identify trends, gaps, and opportunities. Dashboards can be customised by role so the right people have access to the right data. Dive even deeper with text analytics to uncover themes and identify sentiment in your open-text comments.

Listen continuously

The complexity and constant change in healthcare mean leaders must listen to nurses beyond an annual engagement survey. It’s important to measure nurse satisfaction at various touch points throughout the employment journey for continuous awareness of key factors affecting satisfaction levels.

Qualtrics supports listening across the entire employee life cycle with a survey for every touch point.

Check in with pulse surveys

Pulse surveys are shorter, frequent check-ins that happen at regular intervals throughout the year. These surveys can be used to measure the effectiveness of action plans and to bring immediate awareness to new or ongoing nurse concerns.

Hone in with ad-hoc listening

It’s a smart idea to issue ad-hoc surveys to gather feedback in areas where nurse satisfaction is lower than expected. For example, if the nurse satisfaction survey reveals nurses don’t feel satisfied with their career advancement, you could create an ad-hoc survey specific to training and development to gain deeper insights.

What are the outcomes of higher nurse satisfaction?

Why put the effort into improving nurse satisfaction? Well, doing so has been proven to yield high rewards for hospitals and health institutions. Including:

Increased nurse retention

There is a strong link between employee satisfaction and employee retention. Nurses who are less burnt out and feel their needs are being met in the workplace are less likely to leave. This is especially important considering looming nursing shortages and the financial impact of nurse turnover.

Reduced cost of turnover

The average cost of turnover for a registered nurse is $46,100. As a result, in 2021, the average hospital lost over $7 million due to nurse turnover costs. One study found hospitals with programs in place to address burnout among nurses had noticeably lower turnover costs than hospitals without such programs.

Improved patient experience

Research shows that employee engagement and satisfaction are tied to an improved patient experience. Satisfied nurses are more efficient and productive, and more committed to caring for their patients than nurses who are burnt out and dissatisfied with their jobs.

Nurse retention alone can positively impact the patient experience. One study found that 57% of hospital patients who felt there was adequate nurse staffing in their units rated their care as excellent. In contrast, of the patients who felt there weren’t enough nurses in their units, only 14% rated their care as excellent.

Understand experiences at scale

Exceptional employee experiences are key to quality improvement in healthcare organisations, and it goes beyond just nurse satisfaction surveys. With a complete understanding of nurse experiences, emotion, intent and effort across every interaction — you can start to uncover what matters most to them.

With Qualtrics, you get a 360-degree view of the entire nurse experience so you can take the right actions at the right time, continuously improving their job satisfaction while enhancing patient outcomes.

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