Multigenerational Issues in Leadership Term Paper

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multigenerational issues of leadership in the workplace. The discussion explores the differences between the traditionalist generation, baby boomers, Generation X and Generation Y the discussion also focuses on how the differences between these generations have affected the nursing shortage that America is now faced with.

Our discussion examined the nursing shortage which has been caused by the ageing baby boom population and the lack of new recruits. It seems evident from the research conducted that the nursing shortage has also been caused by job dissatisfaction. Many nurses are dissatisfied with their jobs because of increased working hours, inadequate pay and stressful working conditions.

This discussion also focuses on the characteristics of the four generations mentioned above. The traditionalist generation is known for the top-down leadership style that offers very little feedback and allows management to have all the power in the organization. The traditionalist generation is composed of individuals that are very loyal and stay with the same company until they retire. The traditionalists generation was loyal to the nursing profession but has now retired and are dependent upon the care that they once administered.

The baby boom generation insisted on feedback from their traditionalist managers and created a new work environment. The baby boom generation worked very hard to achieve their goals and to change the environment that we live in. Some in this generation entered the nursing field but are now reaching the age of retirement -- which has contributed to the shortage.

Generation X requires leadership that provides them with constant feedback. This generation is very concerned with salaries and perks that come with jobs in corporate America. Individuals in this generation are not very loyal and many have opted not to pursue careers in the nursing profession.

Generation Y and Generation X are very similar. Generation Y is even more concerned with salaries and success. This generation also seems disinterested in the nursing industry because of the instability of the profession.

There are several tactics that can be used to create harmony in a multigenerational workplace. Our research found that most of the generational conflict in the workplace is between baby boomers and generation x We discovered that baby boomers must be willing to listen to the concerns of their generation x employees and train them to work within a corporate context.


We all know that different generations sometimes have contradictory beliefs and ideals. These generational differences have become very evident in the workplace. The leadership skills of different generations have created a workplace environment that is sometimes overwrought. This overwhelming feeling brought on by generational tensions in the workplace, has affected many different segments of our society; particularly within the field of nursing.

The purpose of this discussion is to examine four different generations: traditionalists, baby boomers, Generation X and Generation Y We will explore the characteristics, attitudes and values of each generation. Our research will also discuss the varying leadership qualities and skills of the generations and how these leadership skills have affected the field of nursing. Finally we will discuss ways in which these generations can work together to create a harmonious work environment. Let us begin by discussing the field of nursing and the shortage of qualified nurses.

The Nursing Shortage

In recent years the nursing shortage has had a profound effect on the American healthcare system. The General Accounting office concedes that if the nursing shortage is not properly addressed it will become a crisis. (Nursing Leaders Unveil, 2002) The Department of Health and Human Services believes that by 2006 there will be a need for 6 million nurses but there will only be 600,000 coming into the workforce. (Nursing Leaders Unveil, 2002) This nursing shortage can minimize the quality of care that patients receive. (Nursing Leaders Unveil, 2002)

According to the AORN Journal there are several reasons why the shortage exists including; inadequate wages, overtime, inadequate staffing and increased workloads. (Romig 2001) These factors lead to poor recruitment and drive away qualified nurses. Many in the nursing profession concede that changes to the profession are needed.

The General Accounting office reports that some of the nursing shortage is caused by the growth in the medical needs of the population as it ages. (Scanlon 2001) The GAO also concedes that the nursing field can be physically demanding and discouraging to younger workers. (Scanlon 2001) The GAO found that the turnover rate among nursing aides is particularly high at almost 100%. (Scanlon 2001) The GAO believes that this high turnover rate among NA's has to do with the low wages that workers receive. In addition, the GAO believes that the poor benefits that Nursing Assistants receive drive them to pursue other professions. (Scanlon 2001)

In addition the GAO reports that the average age of an RN has increased substantially. In 1998 the average age was 37 and today it is 42. (Scanlon 2001)While the average age or a nurse has increased the amount of students entering the nursing field has decreased -- creating the shortage that we are now experiencing. (Scanlon 2001)

The General Accounting Office is certain that the nursing shortage will only get worse as the population continues to age. The GAO report suggest,

The future demand for nurses is expected to increase dramatically when the baby boomers reach their 60s, 70s, and beyond. The population aged 65 years and older will double from 2000 to 2030. Moreover, the population aged 85 and older is the fastest growing age group in the U.S. At the same time, the number of persons who have traditionally worked in the nursing workforce -- women between 25 and 54 years of age -- is expected to remain relatively unchanged over the period from 2000 to 2030.8 over the past decade, the nurse workforce's average age has climbed steadily, while fewer young persons are choosing to enter the nursing profession." (Scanlon 2001)

This graph depicts the age distribution of nurses in America.

The GAO also concedes that many of the nation's current nurses are very dissatisfied with their jobs. The reasons for this dissatisfaction include the high stress nature of the job, the increased need to work long hours because of the nursing shortage and the unwillingness of the profession to change these practices. (Scanlon 2001) Many nurses have also suffered illnesses related to the stress of the job. The results of a poll found that,

Half of the currently employed nurses who were surveyed had considered leaving the patient-care field for reasons other than retirement over the past 2 years. 12 Of this group, 56% indicated that they wanted a less stressful and physically demanding job, 22% said they were concerned about schedules and hours, and 18% wanted more money." (Scanlon 2001)

The Washington Nursing Leadership Council was one of the first to create a comprehensive plan for combating the nursing shortage. The state's plan involved five components;

The maintenance of the profession as a desirable career that embraces both men and women.

Preparing future nurses so that the healthcare needs of the country will be met.

The development of work environments that satisfy the needs of qualified nurses

Careful research of the workplace environment to ensure that nurses are not being overworked and underpaid.

Additional educational opportunities at the Washington Center for Nursing. (Nursing Leaders Unveil, 2002)

RN Magazine found a direct correlation between the aging baby boom population and the nursing shortage. The magazine explains, "Today's shortage is due primarily to nurses' dissatisfaction with the profession, combined with competition from other career opportunities for women. Other contributing factors include the aging nursing workforce, the aging baby boom generation, the smaller pool of young people in the workforce, and nursing's failure to attract men and minorities." (Schiff 2002)

PR News explains that the one of the major reasons for the shortage is the lack of incentive that the profession provides. The nursing profession simply can't compete with other professions in terms of the incentives that are provided. The nursing profession also has a difficult time finding nurses that remain loyal to the profession. (ProfNet Round-Up: The Nursing Shortage in America, 2002)

RN Magazine also explains that the nursing shortage is due in part to the treatment of new graduates. The magazine explains that many of the newer nurses are not properly mentored and do not gain the proper experiences. In addition, the magazine concedes that new grads are often treated with condescension. (Mail Box 2001)

Another reason why the shortage exists is because many Americans are unaware of the opportunities that do exist in the nursing field. A report published in PR Newswire explains that most Americans are simply unaware of the different types of nurses. The magazine explains a recent poll saying, pervasive knowledge gap among the public about what licensed practical nurses (LPNs), registered nurses (RNs), and nurse practitioners actually do. While two-thirds of Americans know about RNs and half (51%) recognize LPNs, only one in four people (25%) have ever heard of a nurse practitioner, even though…[continue]

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