Guest Author - Helen V. Calalang-Javier, MSN, RNC, IBCLC
Today’s workforce consists of a multitude of different generations trying to get along at work. Even though we may chuckle at the differences in work ethic, social backgrounds, and culture norms of the different generations, yet in the high-pressure environment of a health care facility, the problem of not getting along with our coworkers creates an unhealthy emotional climate and cuts into work productivity. In nursing, usually there are several different generation mixes in one area, which can lead to conflict, stress, dissatisfaction, and rapid turnover of staff. Understanding these generational staff will assist in narrowing the communication gap.
According to a leading expert and scholar on Organizational Development, Dr. Morris Massey, there are four distinct generations that are working and interacting in the workplace. Learning about the uniqueness of each group will lead to better understanding of the differences and strengths, as well as their values and behaviors in order to create a healthy and productive working environment. These four generations are mostly influenced by socio-economic and political events that occurred during their particular era that influences and molds their values, work ethics, response to authority, and professional outlook. Let us take a look at the four distinct generational groups and how to best communicate with each one based on their needs.
The Veterans (1925-1945),
The Veterans are also known as the Traditionalists. The Veterans were born during the Great Depression, World War II and the rise of labor unions. Because of worldwide political upheaval and events, the veterans experienced rationing and hardship. They are more respectful of the law and order. They love privacy and would not share their inner thoughts. The political events greatly influence their attitudes towards work and so, they are loyal, dedicated, and committed to the institution. They believe that job promotion and career move is by seniority and that one reason why they stay in one institution for their entire nursing career.
The Boomers (1946-1963)
These are the offspring of the veterans. Morris Massey refers to this group as Nuagers. This generation grew up in prosperity and safety. This was the period of the civil rights movement and isolated cold war in some parts of the world. Relatively, this generation is more optimistic and believes in change and growth in the society. They value peer competition, personal ambition, collaboration, and equality. They are workaholics, live in possibilities, and constant change. They respect authority but will always challenge the rules. Many of the nursing leaders today belong to this generation.
Generation Xers (1964- 1980)
Morris Massey refers to as the Syn-Tech generation. This period is the beginning of inflation, rise of technology like computers, corporate downsizing, mergers, lay-offs, fall of communism, and the rise of AIDS. The Xers have definite values and views to self-investing, entrepreneurship, independence, flexibility, adaptability, lots of information especially the use of computers, and data/result- driven mentality. They work hard so that they have more time to relax and enjoy life.
The Millennial (1980-2000)
This is the period of the digital age, reality television, violence, terrorism, and drugs. The global and local events that occurred during this period also include government and corporate scandals, the attack of 9/11, global natural calamities, multiculturalism as a way of life, and wireless technology in communication. The family is focused on security, safety, and diversity. Their values and attitudes are geared towards technology, innovation, confidence and positivity, community,and multi-tasking.
Just learning the different four generational values and their uniqueness will enhance communication and create more congenial relationships in the workplace. Flexibility, open communication, and free style learning help narrow the generation gap and motivates individual for professional growth.