Insights Briefing

A Data-Driven Approach to Evaluating Nurse Manager Span of Control

Posted By The Health Management Academy

February 12, 2024

The Executive’s Guide to Rightsizing Frontline Manager Span of Control

Effective nurse managers have never been more critical to advancing health system strategic priorities. Yet the growing scope of the manager role makes it difficult for those leaders to focus on their most important responsibilities, such as stabilizing the workforce and implementing care delivery innovations.

To understand manager span of control in 2023—and where health systems have opportunities to rescope—Nursing Catalyst researchers surveyed over 1700 managers on their role and workload. This report contains the results of that work. Inside, you’ll find:

  •  Section 1: Five takeaways on frontline manager span of control, including the relationship between span of control and workload, and which manager responsibilities most significantly impact manager workload

  • Section 2: Frontline leadership benchmarks detailing the type (e.g. unit educator, assistant nurse manager) and number of FTEs of unit-level leadership support provided to frontline managers

  • Section 3: A full data report on the variables impacting manager span of control, including headcount, unit noviceness, and workplace violence, among many others

  • Section 4: Nursing Catalyst’s Span-of-Control Tool for Frontline Clinical Leaders, which researchers used to guide the national data collection. Executives can also use this tool with their frontline management to generate span-of-control scores to compare to the national averages

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