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Research Says Nurses from All Generations Want the Same Thing at Work

July 12, 2018

Generational-Difference-NursesSitting in the opening session of the Hanson Wade Leap HR Healthcare conference this morning, I heard the speaker from England’s National Health System employment group say that their research does NOT indicate that nurses from different generations are looking for something different at work. Danny Mortimer is the CEO NHS Employers. He provided a wonderful overview of key turnover metrics and strategies.

This comment about a LACK of generational differences gave the audience pause. Certainly, there are cultural differences between the U.S. and the U.K. Certainly, there are health care system and delivery differences between the two. Obviously, the U.K. has the same generational constructs as the U.S. – so how can this finding be true?

There has been so much written about generational differences and how they impact talent acquisition, development and retention that, perhaps, we just assume these differences are THE most important variable to consider. Or maybe they aren’t?

England’s NHS, not unlike hospitals in the U.S., is challenged by nursing shortages and turnover. What is unique, however, is that the NHS, as a national system, has access to nursing turnover data across the entire country. As they control all hospitals in all markets they can perform data analysis we cannot.

The finding that got everyone’s attention? When it comes to nursing retention, the things that are important to nurses cut across generations – things like:

  • Scheduling flexibility

  • Feeling respected

  • Feeling support from their direct manager

  • Career development resources

  • Career growth opportunities

If you improve these, you improve retention, regardless of the nurse’s generation.

Related: Seven Steps to Improving Employee Retention in Healthcare

The NHS has undertaken a multi-year project to build their nursing pipeline and to retain nurses. Not just from leaving a particular facility, but from leaving the profession, altogether. This is also a problem facing U.S. organizations.

The other observation that resonated – this is not just an HR problem and HR cannot solve it alone. It requires a partnership between talent professionals and nursing. Nursing leadership needs to make it a priority. Nursing managers need to appreciate, and take an active role in hiring, molding, developing and supporting new nurses. Is any management responsibility more important?

We recently wrote that the strategies we all talk about to improve employee retention and engagement, all ASSUME that you have talented, engaged, and motivated front-line managers capable of, and interested in, implementing these strategies.

Maybe we need to spend less time being fascinated by all of the studies on generational differences and get back to the basics?

Learn more by downloading our most recent whitepaper:

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Bryan Warren Bryan Warren was the former Director of Healthcare Solutions at PSI. He was responsible for developing and promoting tools and services designed specifically for the unique challenges faced by healthcare organizations.