Millennial nurses make up one-third of the nursing workforce. They use electronic charting systems with ease due to growing up with technological devices in their hands, which makes them great multi-taskers. Their optimism, respect for authority, and ability to collaborate makes them ideal employees and prepares them to become future leaders. Unfortunately, the highest rate of turnover occurs among millennial nurses. As their engagement dwindles, they begin seeking opportunities elsewhere. What causes a millennial nurse to become disengaged and what can be done to prevent it?

Creating A Positive Workplace

Work environment is found to be one of the most important factors affecting nurse turnover. While no job is perfect, this is one of the first necessities to ensure a positive work culture and happy nurses. Creating a positive work environment can be accomplished by:

  • Allowing self-scheduling
  • Not requiring overtime
  • Maintaining appropriate staffing
  • Ensuring safe patient ratios
  • Having no tolerance for bullying
  • Modeling positive attitudes
  • Making sure that their concerns and ideas are validated

Mentorship is another great way to engage millennial nurses. Since they have a strong desire to expand their knowledge and grow confident in their skills, they respect the expertise of more senior nurses. By fostering an environment where younger nurses are paired with seasoned nurses who are excellent teachers and willing to educate, millennial nurses will feel safer and less overwhelmed at work.

What Can Nurse Leaders Do?

In a Press Ganey article, one nurse leader explained that millennial nurses want to be part of a team. They desire a relationship with their managers and need to feel valued and appreciated. It's important for them to feel that they are truly making a difference - perhaps more so than nurses of other generations.

One common challenge for many millennial nurses is that they don't "see" their managers. In other words, they aren't involved enough. Nurses want to feel supported - especially in times when they feel like they are drowning. Having a manager who steps up by assisting with admission or helping pass medications on a busy day speaks volumes.

Millennial nurses take great pride in the care they provide, and value recognition for a job well done or going above and beyond for a patient. A nurse leader can show their gratitude by writing them a hand-written note or creating some sort of "award" to display on the unit.

What If a Nurse Has Already Checked Out?

It doesn't take many bad shifts, unfair assignments, or lack of support for a nurse to become disengaged. Once this occurs, it's difficult to turn it around.

Involving nurses in quality improvement and other committees is a great way to improve engagement and unit outcomes. Millennial nurses are often technologically-savvy, and their skills may differ from a more senior nurse who has higher experience. Working together on a project sparks inspiration, which ultimately improves teamwork, patient care, and continued interest in their job.

It's also important to create an environment that isn't all work and no play. Just like in any job, there needs to be a time and place to escape the stress. Leaders can accomplish this by hosting a monthly potluck. Even better, they could provide snacks or dessert and allow time for nurses to just sit and laugh with each other. Getting to know your co-workers as people and not just professionals creates a positive workplace, and that's a place where nurses truly want to be.

Preventing Burnout

The highest turnover rates occur among younger nurses. This is partly due to the never-ending options of specialties and opportunities in nursing. It's the mindset of "If you don't like what you're doing now, try something else!" While this is exciting for new nurses, it becomes a headache and financial loss for businesses. So what can be done to keep millennial nurses in a particular role, or at least remain with a company for multiple years?

RELATED: How to Manage Your Stress as a Nurse

One way is to offer advancements and educational opportunities. Millennial nurses value continuing their education and are often interested in opportunities such as tuition reimbursement or classes and workshops offered in areas of interest to them. Unlike their Gen-X and Baby Boomer colleagues, millennials aren't happy doing the same job on the same floor for 20 years. They are more likely to remain with a company if they know that there are opportunities to grow in leadership positions or try new roles. This is a win-win situation, as the company won't lose a valuable employee and the nurse is able to test their skills in a new setting. This ultimately curbs burnout. Millennial nurses have much to offer the nursing profession. Thanks to their comfort with technological advances, an affinity for teamwork, and willingness to exceed expectations, they bring critical talent to the workforce. But they insist on being treated fairly and strongly believe in only remaining loyal to a facility or company that aligns with their goals. In order for a company to keep up with millennial nurses' energy and maintain their engagement, they must create a safe, fair, and positive environment. They should also continually recognize the value these nurses bring to the table, and regularly encourage opportunities for professional growth.

Maegen Wagner, RN, BSN
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