Inspiring Job Satisfaction in Millennial Nurses
HealthJanuary 11, 2018

Inspiring job satisfaction in millennial nurses

Employers can't bank on millennial nurses being content to stay in their jobs. Health organizations must proactively inspire workplace loyalty in young nurses.

A recent study in Health Affairs documented what researchers called a “surprising embrace of the [registered nursing] profession by millennials.” According to the piece, millennials are joining the nursing workforce at almost twice the rate baby boomers once did, perhaps drawn by economic security and the promise of meaningful work.

Whatever the lure, the news is good for the nursing profession overall. However, that doesn’t mean employers can sit back and bank on millennial nurses being happy and content to stay in their jobs.

Consider the title of another recent piece, this one from the Advisory Board: Millennial nurses are headed for the exit. Here’s how to stop them.”

In the article, staff writer Rachel Schulze warned employers from being overconfident in their ability to retain millennial nurses. The turnover rate of bedside nurses has increased in recent years, she wrote. In 2016, it was nearly 12% — and a quarter of those nurses had less than a year’s tenure. Many were younger than age 35.

Pointing out that it costs an average $90,000 to replace a nurse, Schulze offered some insight into how employers can actively work to keep millennial nurses satisfied in the workplace.

Engagement alone isn't enough

For the most part, millennial nurses really aren’t that different from nurses of other generations when it comes to what inspires engagement in their work. Advisory Board data showed the same work engagement drivers appealed to millennials as to nurses in other age groups.

One thing that does differentiate millennials, though, is that while essential, work engagement alone isn’t enough to keep them in a job, especially during the first few years.

“Engagement is necessary but not sufficient to retain young nurses in their early tenure,” Marisa Deline, practice manager, Advisory Board Nursing Executive Center, said in the article.

Loyalty-boosting strategies

Consequently, it’s important for health organizations to intentionally adopt strategies designed to fuel workplace loyalty in millennial nurses.

“These tactics …” the article advised, “should be based on 3 realities of the millennial mindset: they have fewer past work experiences for perspective; they think more in short-term increments; and they have more opportunities than ever.”

  1. First, the Advisory Board recommended zeroing in on promoting a safe and welcoming workplace for new nurses.  Float nurse civility surveys, unit-based mentoring programs, and specific staff incentives to keep early turnover down are all options mentioned in the piece.
  2. Second, boost lateral mobility options and long-term career opportunities, the article coached. The first may appease young nurses who feel stuck in their work. The second, which can be promoted through “career pathing events with director- and executive-level leaders,” shows an employer is invested in a nurse’s professional development.

Other options

It’s not as if these nurses have no where else to go. Other hospitals, clinics, ambulatory surgical centers, and even electronic health record companies are all options for today’s young bedside nurses. The trick for workplaces is to get new hires to want to stay.

Providing a work environment as welcoming and full of opportunities as the greater nursing field itself is a good way to do so.

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