Old and young doctor discussing
Multigenerational workforce

The challenges of the multigenerational workforce

How do we successfully manage a multigenerational workforce?

Generations working side by side is a reality in healthcare workplaces. What is important is for leaders to make the most of this diversity.

For example:

  • Older and more experienced health clinicians can support younger employees to acquire the full breadth of skills required.
  • Experienced health workers can mentor and develop clinician leaders for the future. They can also provide coaching, on the job training and provide professional development opportunities.

Younger workers might seek flexibility and a nurturing work environment whilst older workers value stability, autonomy and security.

Despite these differences and those we discussed in the previous step, research has identified that commonalities between generations are more evident than differences (Stone 2014). A study that compared GenXers and Boomers found that promotional opportunities, job motivation and supervisor support were valued by both generational groups. What was important is that managers take account of generational diversity in work attitudes and style (Benson and Brown 2011).

Managing multigenerational workers

The following approaches can be used to manage generational issues in the health workplace:

  1. Put in place consistent employment expectations, organizational goals, policies and procedures.
  2. Provide opportunities and forums for open dialogues with all employee and in particular those from younger generations who are looking to express their needs and ideas within the organisation.
  3. Embrace an open, approachable and flexible style for managing and addressing the concerns of all generations (Stanley 2010).

Health leaders should be mindful of the needs of all generations. These are: opportunities to advance within the organisation, an environment that enables a work/life balance, renumeration and benefits, respect and recognition within the workplace, access to opportunities to learning and development and training, coaching and motivation of all of the groups. (Stanley 2010).

In Australia, Japan, United States and United Kingdom managing an ageing workforce is a challenge. Some of the responses to managing an ageing workforce are:

  • provision of life-long learning opportunities to ensure that workers can keep their skills and knowledge up to date
  • re-entry skill and training programs. Nurses can be enticed back to the workforce after family responsibilities, if these re-entry programs are provided.
  • job share, part time and flexible work arrangements. This would be useful as the older worker may be interested in still making a contribution but might not have the stamina for a full time role.
  • shift work considerations- these may be necessary as the older worker will experience fatigue and may take longer to recover from shift work.
  • additional holidays for reduced pay. This is an approach to help the older worker manage by incorporating increased holidays.
  • part-tirement or pre-tirement. This is a new blend of work and semi-retirement whereby the older worker is employed either on a contract or part time basis.
  • promoting health and fitness in the workplace so that the older worker can keep mentally and physically fit
  • use of technologies to aid in task completion such as safe patient handling equipment

Your task

Have you ever worked with colleagues who were much younger or older than you? Discuss your experience with the others in the course.

References

Benson, J., & Brown, M. (2011). Generations at work: are there differences and do they matter? Pages 1843-1865. Retrieved from: https://doi.org/10.1080/09585192.2011.573966

NHS Employers. (2018). Your future nurses: the different routes to recruiting your workforce,NHS Employers

NSW Ministry of Health (2018). Framework for Rostering in NSW Health 2018–2023: Right people, right skills, right place. Retrieved from: https://www.health.nsw.gov.au/Rostering/Publications/framework-for-rostering.pdf

Phillips, J.A., & Miltner, R. (2014). Work hazards for an aging nursing workforce. Retrieved from: https://doi-org.libraryproxy.griffith.edu.au/10.1111/jonm.12217)

Stanley, D. (2010). Multigenerational workforce issues and their implications for leadership in nursing. Retrieved from: http://www.web.uwa.edu.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0012/1879464/Multigenerational-workforce-issues.pdf

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This article is from the free online course:

Future-proofing the Health Workforce

Griffith University