9 Non-Salary Benefits for Nurses in 2024

by Amy Spurling August 21st, 2023

The nursing profession is extremely strenuous (an explanation for the statistically high turnover rate). Even in the aftermath of the pandemic, the stresses of day-to-day responsibilities remain.

A competitive salary is an excellent first step. It's part of the reason many pursue a nursing career in the first place.

But most nurses are about more than just the money. They care about work-life balance, career advancement, and overall well-being.

A simple way to show nurses your appreciation and make their jobs a little more bearable is to provide non-salary benefits that can really help them out.

What are non-salary benefits?

Non-salary benefits are anything that doesn’t fall into the category of salary or wages. They make up the rest of a company's total comp package, including employee benefits, perks, and bonuses.

Why are non-salary benefits important for nurses?

A registered nurse (RN) can make a great living. The average annual salary for an RN is $77,600, but some clinical nurse specialists almost double that. And registered nurse anesthetists earn a median salary of almost $200,000.

But the focus goes far beyond that.

Nurses gain a lot more from their profession than just a paycheck. Nursing, like other professions in the healthcare field, is the dream job for many who are passionate about helping others. That's why 88.7% of RNs say they're satisfied with their jobs.

But patient care is extremely strenuous. Between working overtime and extra shifts, long hours in hospitals, nursing homes, and doctor's offices, and personal health and safety risks, nurses have trouble finding time to decompress and take care of themselves.

The student debt and commuting costs don't help, either.

By 2030, we're expected to see a shortage of 15 million workers across the healthcare industry. Healthcare employee retention hinges on making sure they're taken care of.

Nurses have lives, too. Supporting work-life balance and well-being for your RNs is, in many ways, more important than another pay raise.

Non-salary benefits to consider for your healthcare professionals

Across the board, nursing professionals have greater access to comprehensive benefits packages than most. In just about every basic category (retirement, healthcare, paid leave, etc.), 20% to 30% more registered nurses have access to the benefits they need, compared to the total U.S. workforce.

  • Health insurance coverage
  • Retirement benefits
  • Paid time off
  • Sick leave
  • Life insurance
  • Family leave

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics Employee Benefits Survey, RNs rank #1 across all those categories.

The challenge, then, is to go beyond the basics. You have to make your benefits packages custom-tailored to your nurses'

Here are a few examples of non-salary benefits you should consider offering your nursing staff:

1. Mental health services and support

Most importantly, employers need to prioritize their nurses' mental health. Nurses have collectively rated their current mental health a 5.8/10 — 26% lower than pre-pandemic numbers.

High levels of burnout and turnover are common in the healthcare industry. Some of that is due to the nature of the field. But a lack of support from employers and hospitals makes the problem worse.

Supporting your nurses' mental health isn't a costly endeavor, either. There are plenty of inexpensive ways to do so, including:

  • Virtual therapy through companies like TalkSpace and BetterHelp
  • Meditation and mental wellness apps
  • A general perk stipend with multiple spending categories, including mental health

Improved productivity, higher job satisfaction, and better overall quality of care are all benefits that come from investing in mental health services and support for your nurses.

2. Employee health and wellness programs

Health and wellness goes further than mental health. Your nurses may be passionate about their job, but they also need to invest in themselves when it comes to self-care.

A health and wellness program could include:

  • Gym reimbursement
  • Employer-sponsored wellness activities
  • Fitness classes like yoga, pilates, or guided workouts
  • Personal training sessions
  • Healthy meal delivery services
  • Healthy meals at the doctor's office or hospital
  • Stress management and self-care classes

The easiest way to create a program is by offering a health and wellness stipend. That way, every nurse practitioner can take advantage of the benefit regardless of their interests or health and wellness goals.

Typically, these stipends are somewhere between $50 and $500. They cover expenses like gym and fitness classes, healthy meals, wellness activities, personal training sessions — anything they feel helps them live a healthier lifestyle.

Use Compt to administer all kinds of lifestyle benefits (like a health and wellness stipend your nurses can spend on massages or gym memberships).

3. Flexibility where it counts

Nursing isn't like software development or social media management. Nurses can't just work from their laptops and get some extra work done at 9 p.m. if they need the day for other responsibilities.

The nursing field is quite literally the opposite of the 9 to 5 grind.

As an employer, you can play into these needs by offering flexible schedules. Options include:

  • Compressed workweek (working the same number of hours in fewer days per week)
  • Staggered shifts and start times for each day
  • Job sharing and shift splitting with other nurses to make long shifts more manageable
  • Splitting RN time between different care areas (e.g., ICU and emergency room) to limit the demands of one single job type.

When Cleveland Clinic introduced these scheduling options, retention, satisfaction, and productivity increased significantly.

4. On-site childcare

Childcare benefits are crucial for nursing professionals. Full-time nurses (particularly single parents and dual-income households) frequently find themselves making a difficult decision between caring for patients and attending to their families.

And while almost three times as many nurses can access them versus the rest of the workforce, only 28% of RNs have access to such benefits, according to BLS data.

On-site childcare solutions help bridge the gap and give your nurses time to focus on both aspects of their lives.

Larger healthcare facilities are introducing on-site daycare, which eliminates potential problems associated with daycare closures due to staffing shortages and additional commuting time to drop kids off.

If your space doesn't have the infrastructure for on-site childcare, you can still offer family stipends that help your nurses pay for childcare.

5. Education and career development benefits

Around 10% of RNs have access to student loan repayment assistance. Admittedly, this is more than double the average across the entire workforce (4%).

But it doesn't change the fact that the average student loan debt for a BSN is $23,711 — a number that only increases with higher levels of education. Graduates finish with $40,000 to $54,900.

Your nurses worked hard to become a part of your team. They deserve a little help — and some recognition — for their commitment to the nursing practice.

Here are some education and career development benefits you should consider providing:

  • Tuition reimbursement (up to a certain amount)
  • Continuing education stipends
  • Professional certifications and/or licensure assistance
  • Leadership conferences or workshops
  • Mentorship programs

Tuition reimbursement and student loan repayments are also tax-deductible up to $5,250 per year. So you get a tax break while helping your nurses become the best practitioners they can be.

6. Commuter benefits

Nurses travel an average of 25 minutes both ways to reach their work sites. That can add up when you factor in fuel costs, parking fees, and lost time after a while.

Commuter benefits are a great way to offset some of those costs for your nurses.

Options include:

  • Employer-paid or subsidized public transport tickets
  • Free shuttle buses from nearby stations (for larger facilities)
  • Gas stipends or reimbursement
  • Rideshare benefits with companies like Uber and Lyft
  • Parking fee reimbursements

Like many benefits on this list, commuter benefits don't have to cost much. You can offer to reimburse employees for qualifying expenses, set a cap at a certain amount, or give them a stipend they can spend on whatever they need.

7. Relocation stipends

Nurses and other healthcare professionals will have to relocate from time to time. Especially if you're taking applicants fresh out of college, they might need to move across the country for their job.

Relocation stipends are a great way to make these transitions easier. You can choose to cover specific expenses like moving truck rentals or the cost of packing materials.

Or, you can simply offer a lump sum your nurses can spend on the costs they deem most important.

For lower-level roles, you could do something as simple as pay for their flight or offer ≤$1,000. For higher-level nurses like anesthetists, competitive companies offer benefits in the wheelhouse of $3,000 to $10,000 for relocation.

8. Sign-on and retention bonuses

A sign-on bonus is a one-time payment you can offer to new nurses. Its primary goal is to incentivize them to accept and stay with their job for a certain amount of time.

Retention bonuses are similar, but they're offered after an employee has been with the organization for a predetermined amount of time. They're perfect for periods of high stress for your RNs, such as capacity increases staffing shortages, or structural changes within the organization.

You can offer a retention bonus as a one-time payment, incrementally throughout the year, or periodically (e.g., biannually).

Either way, the bonus should reflect the importance of the role and level of experience you require for the job.

9. Cross-training programs

As an employer, you can open the door to other career options for your nurses by allowing them to focus on a specialty. Cross-training allows nurses to become skilled in multiple areas, adding flexibility to their nursing careers.

When a nurse can take advantage of additional training inside your healthcare facilities, you're far likelier to retain them long-term. The more support you can give them, the more you'll be a part of their healthy and fulfilling nursing career.

Compt is a 100% tax-compliant employee stipend platform for healthcare providers

Fast-paced careers like nursing demand solutions that bridge the gap between the employee experience and the benefits you offer.

With Compt, offering personalized benefits is as easy as 1-2-3.

  1. Set your non-salary benefits and enter your parameters.
  2. Allocate your budget and assign set amounts to goals or departments.
  3. Approve reimbursements through the Compt portal.

You get an easy way to roll out non-salary benefits. Nurses get the recognition and support they need for a fulfilling career. Your finance team thanks you for putting IRS compliance on autopilot.

A win-win-win.

See how healthcare orgs manage their benefits with Compt.

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