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Keywords:

  • intention to remain employed;
  • nurse staffing;
  • retention;
  • workforce generation cohorts;
  • workload

Aim  This is a report on generation-specific incentives and disincentives selected by acute care nurses that promote and discourage them to remain employed in hospitals.

Background  Recent literature indicates that nurse preferences for strategies to promote their retention may differ across generational cohorts. However, current literature is primarily anecdotal with few studies focused on evidence-based generation-specific nurse retention-promoting strategies.

Methods  Data were gathered from a cross-sectional survey administered to a random sample of 9904 registered nurses working in Alberta and Ontario, Canada. Two survey items asking nurses to identify preferences for incentives to remain employed and disincentives that encourage them to leave employment were included. Survey items were based on information gathered from previous focus groups exploring determinants of nurse retention.

Results  There were statistically significant differences in the rates of selection across generations of nurses for eight of 10 incentives to remain employed and for eight of 15 disincentives. All generational cohorts selected the same two incentives most frequently: reasonable workloads and manageable nurse–patient ratios. Two of the three most frequently selected disincentives were the same across generations: inadequate staffing and unmanageable workloads.

Implications for nursing management  Leaders should implement and evaluate strategies that ensure workloads are reasonable and nurse–patient ratios are manageable to promote retention among all generations of nurses in the acute care hospital workforce.