Now that you’ve found the right candidate for your open nurse position, it’s time to extend a competitive offer that details everything from salary to benefits. While you might be eager to keep the process moving forward, be sure to assess your compensation package against the competition and nurses’ expectations.

Doing your diligence to research, gather data, and reassess your compensation offering can help you attract and retain high-quality nursing talent. In this competitive market for nurses, you need to know that your offering is compelling to candidates.

Try these strategies and recommendations to create and deliver competitive compensation packages for nurses.

#1 Understand Nurses’ Needs

Nurses work long hours, including overtime, and expect to be paid as such. You need to make sure your base pay for nursing roles is competitive in your market, so your nurses feel valued and cared for at your organization. You should expect that your candidates have shopped around, researched and know their worth. Be prepared to explain exactly why you’re offering the salary and benefits you do.

If it’s not possible for your organization to compete with other organizations’ higher salaries, you need to rethink your benefits and work-life balance offerings. Nick O’Gorman, Market Segment Manager at PayScale suggests you be prepared to explain the value of your total rewards package. Be transparent in explaining the realities of your offer and that while you may not be offering the same dollar value as the organization next-door, other benefits, like work-life balance, amount of overtime, opportunities, vacation, tuition reimbursement, and health benefits could make the package more appealing for the right candidates.

#2 Know Your Labor Market

Part of creating a competitive nurse compensation package is knowing your market. Research and analyze your competitors’ salaries, benefits, work-life balance, organizational culture, etc., compared to your offering and adjust as needed. Furthermore, consider your organization’s location, which could impact what your potential hires are looking for. For example, you should tailor your compensation package based on whether you’re hiring in a rural market or in a saturated, urban market.

According to PayScale, there are four viable options for you to use to gather your benchmarking data:

  • Published Traditional Surveys
  • Validated online Data gathered from employees (also known as crowdsourced data)
  • Company-sourced data (aggregated data from employers’ HRIS systems)
  • Custom Surveys

Your organization’s budget will likely determine the types of data you gather, but as a rule of thumb it’s best to create a composite of a few different data sources, rather than relying on one set of benchmarks.

Furthermore, to ensure you’re accurately benchmarking the external data against your internal org structure, make sure you’re comparing apples to apples. In other words, don’t compare your job titles to those in the marketplace, as they might not be a true match. Try to dig deeper and compare by job description so you can be sure you’re making fair assessments.

#3 Know the Value of Skills and Certifications

“In a nutshell, to drive a competitive offer, you need to know your labor markets, the skills and certifications you require, and the candidate’s aptitude and experience,” says O’Gorman. He goes on to explain that, for nurses especially, there are hard skills and training that are tied to compensation. As such, when creating pricing for a nursing role, you can make a fair, accurate offer by knowing the value of certain skills and certifications.

Furthermore, when you have a strong understanding of the value you place on skills and certifications, you will be better positioned to explain your reasoning to a candidate during the negotiation stage. Also, if nurses come in with additional skills or certifications, you need to up the salary range based on their value.

The labor market for nurses is highly competitive. Make sure you can seal the deal when the time comes, by creating a competitive compensation package designed for retention.

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About Diana Bishop

Diana Bishop was the Content Marketing Manager at HealthcareSource. In her role, she developed and optimized content for healthcare talent management professionals.