Talent management in nursing: an exploratory case study of a large acute NHS trust

Haines, Susan (2016) Talent management in nursing: an exploratory case study of a large acute NHS trust. DHSci thesis, University of Nottingham.

[img] PDF (corrections for review by internal examiner) (Thesis - as examined) - Repository staff only - Requires a PDF viewer such as GSview, Xpdf or Adobe Acrobat Reader
Download (5MB)


Introduction and Background

Talent management (TM) is described as an organisational process led by senior leaders that encompasses core components including; defining, attracting, developing and retaining talented employees to best meet strategic business objectives. In the pressing contemporary context of global financial and workforce challenges, including national nursing shortages and an aging population with increasingly complex health and social care needs, it is essential to ensure that nursing can compete with other industries to attract, develop and retain the full potential of the current and future nursing workforce. A review of the literature revealed TM as an emerging concept, a subject more commonly associated with business and Human Resource Management literatures rather than healthcare and nursing. Whilst there are numerous definitions of TM, two primary organisational approaches to TM were identified, inclusive and exclusive. This research addresses the lack of empirical studies relating to TM in nursing in the NHS.


The research primarily aimed to engage clinical nurses in an exploratory case study of one large acute NHS trust, to gain new insights and knowledge into how TM is emerging as a concept within nursing. I aimed to explore nurses’ perceptions, lived experiences and possibilities of Talent Management. The secondary aim was to contribute to the development of TM in nursing within one acute NHS trust and to the emerging debates on TM in nursing in national and international contexts.


• To identify how participants define talent in nursing

• To identify what participants see as the challenges of talent management and how talented nurses can be effectively attracted, developed and retained

• To identify areas for further research and contribute to the emerging debates on TM in nursing.


A qualitative case study employed focus groups, one to one interviews, documentary sources and wider consultation involving 229 staff nurses. A thematic analysis of qualitative data was utilised and findings triangulated with other data sources, including a wider consultation.


Three common themes were identified; Nursing as talent, ward leadership and culture and career development. The findings were examined within the context of nursing as a gendered occupation. They identified a challenge for nurse participants in describing talent in nursing; nurses did not spontaneously describe what they did as talent. The image of nursing and public and media perceptions were identified as a concern when aiming to attract, develop and retain future and existing talented nurses. There was felt to be a lack of recognition and reward for nursing talent, a lack of clear career pathways and the impact of the local manager on talent development was influential. Talent in nursing could sometimes be viewed as negative, seen as a ‘disruption’ if individuals did not conform to existing expectations influenced by the leadership and local culture within a ward or department. In addition there was a need for greater recognition of Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) nurse development. The need for an inclusive approach to TM in nursing, creating an environment where all nurses felt engaged and valued with opportunities for education and development was identified.


This study contributes new knowledge identifying what participants regard as important in the development of TM as an emerging concept in nursing. Nurses were proud of their roles but felt undervalued and had no readily accessible point of reference for aspirational standards of excellence or talent in nursing. The majority aspired to clinical careers but career pathways in nursing were regarded as invisible. Nurses wanted to be recognised for their contribution, skills and talents and valued and engaged in the workplace. Recommendations include; a need for greater clarity in nursing career pathways, careers guidance for nurses, including the development of clinical career ladders for staff nurses, a need to improve managers’ skills as talent developers and explore inclusive approaches to TM. There is a need for Directors of Nursing to make TM important at all levels within an organization. To meet the healthcare needs of the population developing talent in nursing also needs to be considered wider than the boundaries of individual wards and specialities. Further research is recommended including; evaluation of approaches to TM, strategies for nurse retention, nursing career pathways and exploration of means to identify and recognise excellence in nursing.

Item Type: Thesis (University of Nottingham only) (DHSci)
Supervisors: Timmons, S.
Noke, H.
Keywords: Talent management, Nursing, Talent development, Inclusive talent management
Subjects: W Medicine and related subjects (NLM Classification) > WY Nursing
Faculties/Schools: UK Campuses > Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences > School of Health Sciences
Item ID: 37301
Depositing User: Haines, Susan
Date Deposited: 16 Dec 2016 06:40
Last Modified: 06 Jul 2023 14:54
URI: https://eprints.nottingham.ac.uk/id/eprint/37301

Actions (Archive Staff Only)

Edit View Edit View