Employers must recognise the alternative career needs of different generations of nurses and midwives to improve workplace retention rates, according to a report.
The sociological make-up of many cohorts of newly-qualified registrants means they are not as loyal to organisations as previous generations were, meaning there is more risk they will leave if their needs are not met, it warned.
Those born from 1980 onwards – referred to as “generation Y” – must be assured of the social purpose of their roles as nurses and midwives, be provided with a clear career framework to progress within and given regular feedback, said the report.
“Employers need to consider how they can make their social purpose tangible from day to day”
Mind the Gap report
Flexible working patterns are also needed to balance with their social life, and a stronger emphasis on team working and involvement in decision-making is also more important to this group.
These needs contrast with those of their supervisors, who are from a generation typically more used to lone problem-solving.
The report – called Mind the Gap: Exploring the needs of early career nurses and midwives in the workplace – was published earlier this summer, but has only recently been widely distributed.
It reveals the findings of a project set up by Birmingham and Solihull’s local education and training council (LETC).
The project was sparked by growing concerns from employers about the recruitment and retention of nurses and midwives, in particular the high turnover rate for band 5 registrants in places.
Workshops and research events with local “early career” registrants – defined as those in the transition period from third year of university to the end of preceptorship – confirmed the prevalence of “generation Y” character traits among them.
“For the first time in history four different generations will be working together in the same employment environment”
Mind the Gap report
It found the “strong sense of purpose” among the current cohort of early career nurses to “make a difference” offered employers the greatest opportunity in relation to attracting and retaining these nurses and midwives.
“Employers need to consider how they can make their social purpose tangible from day to day, especially at times when demand, capacity and financial challenges take operational priority.
“Whilst it could be said that all operational activity is implicitly linked to the wider purpose of the NHS, is this clear and explicit enough for our early career professionals?” said the report.
The report also referred to the recent major investigation into nurse education and training, Lord Willis’ Shape of Caring Review, which was commissioned by Health Education England.
It said the review’s recommendations to ensure sustainable access to on-going learning and development for registered nurses were “essential” to supporting and retaining “generation Y” registrants.
“Understanding differing motivational needs across generations offers employers and education providers a real opportunity to… improve recruitment and retention”
Mind the Gap report
However, it was also warned that a new wave of “generation Z” employees with slightly different career expectations was also set to enter the workforce in the future.
This was in addition to two other older aged groups – the “baby boomer” and “generation X” – forming large parts of the existing workforce.
“For the first time in history, four different generations will be working together in the same employment environment,” said the report.
It added: “There are generational differences in values, expectations, perceptions and motivations in the current workforce and these are highly relevant in terms of staff education and engagement.
“Understanding differing motivational needs across these generations offers employers and education providers a real opportunity to better align support to meet individual needs and to improve recruitment and retention.”