Generational diversity: what nurse managers need to know

J Adv Nurs. 2013 Mar;69(3):717-25. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2648.2012.06079.x. Epub 2012 Jul 9.


Aim: This article presents a discussion of generational differences and their impact on the nursing workforce and how this impact affects the work environment.

Background: The global nursing workforce represents four generations of nurses. This generational diversity frames attitudes, beliefs, work habits and expectations associated with the role of the nurse in the provision of care and in the way the nurse manages their day-to-day activities.

Data sources: An electronic search of MEDLINE, PubMed and Cinahl databases was performed using the words generational diversity, nurse managers and workforce. The search was limited to 2000-2012.

Discussion: Generational differences present challenges to contemporary nurse managers working in a healthcare environment which is complex and dynamic, in terms of managing nurses who think and behave in a different way because of disparate core personal and generational values, namely, the three Cs of communication, commitment and compensation.

Implications for nursing: An acceptance of generational diversity in the workplace allows a richer scope for practice as the experiences and knowledge of each generation in the nursing environment creates an environment of acceptance and harmony facilitating retention of nurses.

Conclusion: Acknowledgement of generational characteristics provides the nurse manager with strategies which focus on mentoring and motivation; communication, the increased use of technology and the ethics of nursing, to bridge the gap between generations of nurses and to increase nursing workforce cohesion.

Publication types

  • Historical Article

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Attitude of Health Personnel*
  • Communication
  • History, 20th Century
  • History, 21st Century
  • Humans
  • Intergenerational Relations*
  • Nurse Administrators / psychology
  • Nurse's Role / psychology*
  • Nurses / psychology*
  • Nursing Staff / organization & administration
  • Workplace