Veterans' Work Ethic - Long Term & Continuing Care Association of

Understanding Each Other
and Working Together,
Multigenerational Health
Karen Dunlop RN BN LLB
May 2007
The world is changing
• Pluto is no longer a planet!
And so are we…
Multigenerational Workforce
• Today there are at least three and sometimes
four generations working together in the
Veterans, born before 1945
Baby Boomers, born 1946-1964
Generation X, born 1965-1980
Millennial, born after 1980
Boychuck Duchscher J.E., Cowin L., Multigenerational Nurses in the Workplace, JONA Vol. 34,
No. 11, pp. 493-501, 2004.
The Veterans, born before 1945
• Born into conservative, overprotective, two
parent, one income households; as children,
were “seen and not heard”.
• Rules were clear, authority clearer.
• Heroes had clear unarguable and great purposes
such as saving the world.
• Born into the Industrial age.
Veterans’ Work Ethic
• Aspired to and expected life long single
employer career.
• Diversity was uncommon.
• Future was predictable. Roles were clear and
• Fiscally prudent or frugal.
• Value organizational loyalty, discipline,
teamwork, pay your dues.
Veterans’ Work Ethic
• Value history and experience.
• Comfortable with chain of command. Believe in
central command and control.
• Expect professional managers in a hierarchical
structure, who communicate formally and
officially in a proper manner.
• Want formal recognition, symbols of prestige
and status.
Coaching Veterans
• Acknowledge their knowledge and experience.
• Use one-to-one face to face meetings; formal
feedback, recognition and communication
• Acknowledge their long service.
• Teach them about evidence based practice,
research, new models of care, shared leadership.
• Encourage them to express views, question
decisions if they see a problem.
Baby Boomers
Comprise at least 55% of the workforce.
“Me” generation.
Raised in nuclear traditional families.
Spirit of rebelliousness and idealism.
Learned to challenge authority and value those
who questioned the status quo.
• Equate work with self-worth, and personal
Baby Boomers
Strong work ethic.
Invented the word “workaholic”.
Competitive, strong willed.
Desire but did not achieve work-life balance.
Will work longer than traditional cohorts.
Baby Boomers’ Work Ethic
• Want to work in organizations that are
democratic, humane, caring and have a positive
effect on the world.
• Value a manager who knows them personally
and treats them as a peer.
• Expect their individual achievements and
contributions to be acknowledged.
• Value a strong work ethic.
Coaching Baby Boomers
• Recognize their achievements with formal status
symbols and titles.
• Peer to peer coaching situations.
• Recognize with perks.
• Understand they are a stressed “Sandwich
• Provide organizational supports, stress
management resources and continuing
Generation X
• Raised in dual income or single parent
households of ethnically or culturally diverse
parents, in an adult orientated society.
• Under protected, latchkey kids.
• Self-reliant, resourceful, technologically savvy.
• Born in the Information Age.
• Saw their workaholic parents get downsized.
Generation X
• Described as alienated, skeptical, cynical,
nonconformist and radically individualistic.
• Grew up with Sesame Street and computers in
the classroom.
• Learned to be self-reliant and turned to friends
to fill the gap from absent parents.
• Pragmatic, outcome focused, independent.
• No faith in institutions.
Generation X Work Ethic
• Want to work independently on outcomes.
• Want opportunities for professional growth.
• Are committed to their profession, not their
• Value “employability”, not long term
• See work is a job.
• Have a “free agent” mentality
Generation X Work Ethic
• Focused on information rather than personal
experience. Want facts over emotion.
• Expect immediate feedback and success.
• Less willing to make sacrifices for the greater
good (not part of it).
• Are not interested in process, committees that
don’t accomplish anything.
Coaching Gen Xers
Give them a task and leave them alone.
Provide opportunities to grow professionally.
Provide technological resources e.g. internet
Allow them to learn by doing e.g. role playing
Listen to their input and feedback.
Deemphasize bureaucratic obstacles.
Respect their value for work life balance.
Recognize them on the basis of merit.
• The second largest demographic cohort, after
their parents, the Baby Boomers.
• Born into multicultural, biracial parents, many in
single parent households.
• Optimistic, goal orientated, educated, ambitious,
confident, technologically sophisticated.
• Accept that the world is a global economy.
• Understand multiculturalism as a way of life.
• Respect authority, hard earned achievement,
hierarchy and teams. Morally grounded.
• Similar to Veterans in sociopolitical attributes
and work ethic.
• Share the Veterans traditional values, respect for
heroes that accomplish great things e.g. 9/11
• Considered generous, sociable, practical and
morally convicted.
Millenials’s Work Ethic
• Expect work-life balance.
• Expect mutual respect, support, commitment
and trust.
• Like working in teams.
• Tolerant, loyal, motivated
• Have career plans and paths.
Millenials’s Work Ethic
Change is inherent in their lives.
Multitask easily.
Technologically confident.
May have limited social and personal interaction
• May have limited clinical or practical experience.
• Outspoken.
Coaching Millennial
• Want information, education, communication
and lots of feedback.
• Want a leader who has a vision, can
communicate, is honest, has integrity, can
motivate others, is knowledgeable and
• Want lots and lots of coaching and mentoring.
• Expect structure, guidance and extensive
Coaching Millennial
• They want to be involved in decision making
and implementation of new practices.
• They have little patience for a lack of resources,
rigidity, or blind insistence on doing things “the
way they have always been done”.
• They want to learn from experience but not be
burdened by it.
Technology has flipped traditional
hierarchy of knowledge
• Younger generations know more about
Stress in the workplace
The #1 issue in health care today:
• Recruitment and retention (health human
• Ours is an aging workforce.
• Boomers poised to retire.
• We are not educating, hiring or retaining enough
nurses to replace us.
– 30% of new graduates leave nursing.
Why do nurses leave?
Not valued as a professional
Not respected as a person
Loss of self
Lack of recognition
Workplace stress
Lack of acceptance
Lack of opportunities in nursing/other
opportunities available.
Sources of Disrespect
Other nurses
Other staff
Patients and their families
The organization
• Inevitable in human interactions….
• Unresolved conflict leads to error, staff
turnover, decreased patient satisfaction.
Generational Conflict
• Members of each generational cohort share
common experiences that influence their
attitudes and expectations toward authority,
organizations, work expectations, career goals
and private life.
• These perspectives can create stress,
misunderstanding and conflict in the workplace.
The generational divide
• Disrespect
• Peer conflict
Poor working relationships
=Burnout + Professional attrition
“Every generation blames the one
• Believing one’s own perspective to be unique
and universal.
• Different assumptions regarding roles.
– Participating vs. challenging
– Pay your dues
• Focus on differences not strengths.
• Expecting to teach not learn.
*Mike and the Mechanics, In the Living Years.
Why do nurses stay?
The people
Workplace attributes
Strong visible nurse leader.
Respectful work relationships
Control over work
• Requires valuing and understanding of each
– As a team, group
– As an individual.
• Stereotypes and generalities are used only as
– Generational
– Area or place of practice e.g. ER nurses
You’re so phat…
“Beam me up Scotty”
Valuing every member of the team
• Veterans
– experience, knowledge, skill and judgment
• Baby Boomers
– clinical and organizational experience.
• Gen Xers
– innovative, independent, creative, new models.
• Millennial
– technologically sophisticated, connected, spirit of
Strategies for Leaders
• Conduct a generational inventory.
• Hold every employee to the same expectations,
organizational policies, code of conduct.
• Promote the concept of team.
• Set ground rules the reinforce an expectation of
respect and tolerance.
• Communicate, communicate, communicate.
• Be a role model.
Strategies for Leaders
• Explore new ways of doing things.
– New nurses are not interested in lengthy outdated
policies and procedures, delayed communication,
• Develop a generation-sensitive coaching and
mentoring style.
Strategies for Leaders
• Promote career management to manage
• Create, facilitate or promote continuing
education and professional growth
Strategies for Leaders
• Be prepared to flex your leadership style.
• New nurses want leaders who are honest, able to
motivate others, have a positive outlook, good
communication skills, an approachable
demeanor, knowledgeable and supportive.
• Promote a culture of inquiry, respect and
All staff
• Talk to each other.
• Celebrate the strengths of every member of the
• Expect to learn from others.
• Cut others some slack.
• Remember……
Conflict Resolution
• Zero tolerance policy for bullying.
• Commit to resolving conflict.
– Ethical responsibility
– Consistent with Nursing’s commitment to “caring”
• Conflict resolution tools, workshops
Choose to view diversity as a
• Veterans:
• What tasks require close attention to detail?
Where does the unit have a need for resource
• Boomers:
• Where is the need to “roll with the punches”
most needed? Which tasks require independent
Choose to view diversity as a
• Gen Xers:
• What requires a fresh look/new way of doing
things? What project can best be accomplished
• Millennials:
• Where are culturally sensitive views important?
What processes require advanced technology?
Commit to each other
We’re all in this together…