Reactions of hospital staff nurses to recruitment incentives

Document Type


Publication Date


Publication Title

Western Journal of Nursing Research





First Page


Last Page





adult, aged, anger, article, Attitude of Health Personnel, Canada, conflict, Cross-Sectional Studies, cross-sectional study, defense mechanism, Dissent and Disputes, Distributive justice, female, health personnel attitude, human, Humans, Incentives, male, middle aged, Morale, morality, motivation, Negativism, nursing methodology research, nursing staff, Nursing Staff, Hospital, Ontario, organization and management, Personnel Loyalty, personnel management, Personnel Selection, Personnel Turnover, psychological aspect, qualitative research, questionnaire, Questionnaires, Recruitment, regression analysis, Retention, Saskatchewan, social justice


In response to the nursing shortage, many hospitals offer sign-on bonuses to attract nurses. There are anecdotal reports that the use of such incentives negatively affects staff nurse morale. The present study is the first to empirically examine the reactions of staff nurses who have not received sign-on bonuses. Most of the 800 surveyed nurses were not opposed to the use of incentives, but almost all were concerned about the potential for negative impact on retention. Compared to nurses working in hospitals that did not offer sign-on bonuses, nurses working in hospitals that offer sign-on bonuses reported higher levels of anger and lower levels of optimism. Greater anger and less optimism were associated with a reduced sense of distributive justice. The less fairly treated nurses felt, the greater likelihood of withdrawal from the hospital. The use of recruitment incentives may result in reduced work effort or loss of experienced nurses, exacerbating the nursing shortage. © 2006 Sage Publications.