Moira arrived on the unit rushing, with smart phone in her hand and ear phones attached to her ears. She continuously talks on the phone even though she knows that she’s running late for report. Debbie, a senior nurse, was annoyed and told her that she’s late but Moira didn’t budge and appeared unconcern. She took report and went on with her business after but still with smart phone in her hands.
She saw her patients and then sat in front of her computer but while checking her patient’s chart she was on and off her phone. During her shift, she’s never without her phone. In fact, I caught a glimpse of her doing selfie (taking pictures of herself) while charting.
If you are a nurse, you probably have encountered or is familiar with this situation. In nursing professions nowadays, there are different generations of workforce. It is beneficial for healthcare to have this diversity as each generational group has different expertise to offer. However, this poses challenges as each generational group possesses unique characteristics and ways. There are differences also with the way each generations communicates
Moira , obviously, belongs to generation Y also known as Millennial who is technologically endowed and being new to the profession, has yet to develop a good working habits and ethics. While Debbie is a Baby Boomer who believes in stricter work ethics and values of cooperation.
What Are These Four Diverse Generations And Their Differences
- Veterans (born between 1922 and 1945) This is the generation that has stricter regimen. Good values, quality, respect and authority are of utmost importance to them.
- Baby Boomers (born between 1946 and 1960)) They are very structured and well-disciplined. Most of them are confident and makes smart decisions.
- Gen Xers (born between 1961 and 1980) Technologically adept. They are flexible, ambitious, less committed and are eager to learn new things but on their own terms.
- Gen Ys (known as Millennial born after 1981) The generation of millennial are confident, ambitious and achievement oriented. They are not afraid to question authority. They are technologically savvy too.
- It is very important to consider each and every one’s uniqueness and not stereo type them. Considering each generations talents and mastery should also be taken into consideration.
- Working nurses would have retired or cut back their hours between the ages of 55-60, historically, but due to changes in retirement benefit plans some still choose to work.
Ways To Narrow The Gap Between Generations
- By considering what each brings to the table.
- By communicating effectively.
- Collaborating with each other.
- Focusing on one goal.
- Helping each other.
- Considering one’s strong points.
- Embracing flexibility.
- Engaging in respectful conversation.
- Allowing feedback and constructive criticism.
- Management should hold all staff the same expectations.
- Understanding each generation’s point of view.
- Respecting each one’s specific values.
- Open mindedness.
- Celebrating each others uniqueness.
- Assisting the new generations of nurses with engagement and focus.
- Creating a nurturing and reassuring environment.
- Encourage questions.
- Promote socialization.
If conflict arises it is important to focus on the issue at hand and not lose track. By listening to each other’s statements and being unbiased as a leader will give both ends the ability to be tolerant and flexible of each other’s differences. Taking the time to be familiar with each other and Understanding will help limit any conflicts and foster a harmonious working relationship which will impact the nursing profession and healthcare greatly.
Benefits Of Working With Different Generations Of Staff
- Veterans and or Baby boomers can teach younger generations how to communicate effectively or how to better interact with patients at a given situation. Generation X and Generation Ys can learn better skills with dialogue from the older generations. Most younger generation has some issues with communication and has under developed social skills as they depend mostly on their smart phones or electronic device as a way of communicating.
- While Generation X and Y can teach the 2 older generations about technology, computer skills and techniques.
- The older generation, since they are more experienced, can teach younger generations to enhance their nursing skills and techniques.
- The younger generations can be supervised and guided by Veterans and Baby Boomers especially with difficult or complicated tasks and nursing procedures.
- They can also practice their critical thinking skills side by side.
- Veterans and Baby Boomers can mentor the younger ones and can serve as a good example towards good work ethics and habits.
- They can also help the younger generations in building their confidence.
- They can encourage each other for growth, since the Veterans and Baby Boomer has probably achieved some certifications or other higher educations.
- Supporting each other and by gaining the younger generation’s trust knowing that they can depend on their senior nurses, will increase nurse retention, satisfaction and good collaborative relationships.
- They can motivate and coach younger generations to better their performance. Veterans and Baby Boomers has experiences that will help teach and motivate the younger generations that will serve as their guide while they practice their nursing profession.
Nurse Leader’s Role Towards The Age Diversity
Nurse leaders plays a very important role in creating a work environment that values generational diversities which will support each other’s needs and honor their differences. It is vital for the nurse leaders to have an understanding of each generation’s qualities by treating each other without bias and giving them fair treatment with regard to policies, procedures and expectations.
Each generation have different ways of learning and motivational strategies that the nurse leader has to take into consideration as well. Stereo typing has to be avoided. It is crucial to develop a style in which there’s flexibility in communication to accommodate generational differences.
Every member of the team desires a productive and meaningful work. Belongingness is a very important factor for any individual as this will motivate and foster a good working environment, relationship and will encourage long term of tenure ship.
With nursing shortage now a days, especially for acute direct patient care, it is crucial for all generations to work well together so conflict resolution and motivating the workforce to work efficiently with each other is a role that nurse leaders should be accountable for as these are the skills needed to better those abilities as a leader and help succeed in this multi generational period.