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Keywords:

  • Generational characteristics;
  • multigenerational workforce;
  • work climate;
  • turnover;
  • nursing

Abstract

Purpose: This article describes and compares work climate perceptions and intentions to quit among three generations of hospital workers and nurses.

Background: Never before in history has the workplace comprised such a span of generations. The current workforce includes three main generations: Baby Boomers (born between 1946 and 1963), Generation X (born between 1964 and 1980), and Generation Y (born between 1981 and 2000). However, very little research has linked turnover among nurses and other healthcare workers to their generational profile.

Method: A quantitative study with a correlational descriptive design was used. 1,376 hospital workers of the three generations (with 42.1% nurses, 15.6% support staff, 20.1% office employees, and 22.1% health professionals or technicians), employed in a university-affiliated hospital, completed a self-administered questionnaire. They answered the Psychological Climate Questionnaire and a measure of turnover intention.

Results: Generation Y hospital workers obtained a significantly lower score on the “Challenge” scale than did Baby Boomers. On the “Absence of Conflict” and “Warmth” scales, the opposite occurred, with Baby Boomers obtaining a significantly lower score than Generation Y respondents. If the nurse job category is taken separately, Generation Y nurses expressed a negative perception of the “Goal Emphasis” scale, compared with Baby Boomers. The proportion of Generation Y nurses who intend to quit is almost three times higher than that of other hospital workers from Generation Y. The main reason given by workers from Generations Y and X who intend to quit the organization is their own career advancement. The main reason given by Baby Boomers who intend to quit is retirement.

Conclusions: Retention strategies that focus on improving the work climate are beneficial to all generations of hospital workers and nurses. If generation-specific retention strategies are developed, these should focus on the three areas identified to have intergenerational differences: challenges, absence of conflict, and warmth.

Clinical Relevance: New nurses will benefit from strategies aimed at supporting their career advancement in the workplace.