It's nice to be wanted.
After a sluggish few years, the need for travelers is once again on the rise — and so are the perks.
"More nurses are feeling comfortable about the industry and moving back into traveling," says Dale West, vice president of recruiting for Ohio-based Advantage RN. "More hospitals are realizing the benefits and flexibility travelers can bring to their facility."
Offering innovative programs
Given this environment, staffing companies are increasingly willing to show their appreciation in tangible ways, thinking outside the box to come up with innovative offerings that cover the gamut, from robust referral bonuses to beefed-up prizes.
Earlier this year, On Assignment Nurse Travel launched its "STAT" program, an incentive program that offers iPads and other gifts to nurses who sign a contract with the company or who sign on for another round at their current assignment location. "In the past we've done things like extension bonuses, but our new STAT program has been really well received," says Kris Cannon, vice president of operations for On Assignment Nurse Travel in Cincinnati. "This program offers things people are particularly interested in."
The "Commitment to Excellence" program is another newcomer to the company's incentives pool. Nurses who receive outstanding evaluations from clients in the areas of customer service and patient care are recognized each month and given gift cards and other prizes. At the end of the year, an employee of the year is recognized.
"We've done many different things in the past — prizes and bonuses for having nurses extend with us," Cannon says. "But the travelers who constantly receive outstanding evaluations, those are the ones it is important for us to keep. Those are the ones we are focusing on, trying to find ways to keep them working through our organization."
Cirrus Medical Staffing of Charlotte recently rolled out a comprehensive package of four programs for 2012. The company offers a sign-on bonus for new travelers when they start. New travelers also receive a gift for joining.
There's also a referral bonus program for travelers who refer someone who later begins an assignment with Cirrus, and a loyalty bonus for travelers who complete consecutive assignments for the company. In the past, loyalty bonuses consisted of either cash or paid time off. In 2012, qualifying travelers will receive both.
"We spent a lot of time talking with our travelers and talking with travelers in the industry, trying to figure out what would resonate with them and what's important to them," Curtin says. "Travel healthcare is a difficult job. Travelers have 13-week assignments all over the country and are away from their families during that time. We wanted to make sure we were providing programs that really meant something to our travelers. I think the immediacy and attainability of our bonus programs and plans are very important to them."
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