Generational differences in values, expectations and perceptions of work have been proposed as one basis for problems and solutions in recruitment and retention of nurses.
Method: This study used a descriptive design. A sample of 8,207 registered nurses and registered practical nurses working in Ontario, Canada, acute care hospitals who responded to the Ontario Nurse Survey in 2003 were included in this study. Respondents were categorized as Baby Boomers, Generation X or Generation Y based on their birth year. Differences in responses among these three generations to questions about their own characteristics, employment circumstances, work environment and responses to the work environment were explored.
Results: There were statistically significant differences among the generations. Baby Boomers primarily worked full-time day shifts. Gen Y tended to be employed in teaching hospitals; Boomers worked more commonly in community hospitals. Baby Boomers were generally more satisfied with their jobs than Gen X or Gen Y nurses. Gen Y had the largest proportion of nurses with high levels of burnout in the areas of emotional exhaustion and depersonalization. Baby Boomers had the largest proportion of nurses with low levels of burnout.
Conclusion: Nurse managers may be able to capitalize on differences in generational values and needs in designing appropriate interventions to enhance recruitment and retention of nurses.
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