- Jul 29 2015
“It is crucial for nursing managers to take the time to learn what is important to each generation. Successful management hinges on our ability to reduce generational conflict, promote engagement and take advantage of what these differences bring to the table. Without overgeneralizing, we must find what works for each age group. For example, Xers tend to value their independence and seek a healthy work-life balance, while Gen Y favors group activities and feedback. Given this assessment, we can maximize Gen Y’s engagement by avoiding micromanagement styles and involving them in decisionmaking processes and leadership opportunities.
It is also crucial to recognize that these differences cannot simply be attributed to one’s age. In this past decade for example, the sheer size of Gen Y has made the college acceptance process extremely competitive. Growing up surrounded by this type of rivalry, the competitive spirit comes rather naturally to Gen Y - particularly when compared to Xers who come from a much smaller generation. Acquisition and management of quality employees is the most important issue we as managers face. As such, we must focus on building our understanding of generational differences and why these differences exist.”
Interview of Dr. Bertrand Pauget, Research Professor of Management, European Business School of Paris, France. He co-conducted a study with Dr. Ahmed Dammak between 2011 and 2013 exploring managers’ perceptions of Generation Y.
What are some takeaways from your survey on perceptions of Gen Y in the healthcare industry?
Dr. Bertrand Pauget: The notion of generations refers to people of the same age group who share the same codes, practices and place within a society. Each has been similarly “shaped” by the historical events of their time. My study reveals that older generations tend to view Gen Y as one that struggles with conventional hierarchy and instead places a great deal of value on individual abilities; demands for better work-life balance; lacks dedication; and is by nature hyperconnected.
But these generalizations are somewhat unfair. If you think about it, older generations had some of the same expectations—they are simply more visible today. For example, technology creates the need to set boundaries that weren’t needed before.
Previous generations were able to completely detach from work once they left. Today, work responsibilities are ever-present with the arrival of smartphones. Gen Y is simply the first generation that has had to set these limits.
Why is it that Gen Y in particular faces such heavy criticism?
Dr. B.P.: The massive wave of Gen Y, which is much larger than Gen X, entered the workforce in mid-2000, at the same time that the first boomers began to hit retirement age. The reputation they developed among older colleagues for shunning authority or not investing themselves enough in their work has more to do with the fact that their arrival simply threw off the balance of the workforce.
What do these perceptions of Gen Y reveal about the workforce in general?
Dr. B.P.:The criticisms facing Gen Y reveal a deeper problem. The arrival of younger workers highlights the difficulties institutions face in revamping practices and adapting to changing expectations. Instead of thinking in terms of age, organizations would benefit from cross-generational processes focused on motivating the entire workforce and increasing performance.
To learn more, consult the global healthcare magazine Quality of Life Experiences
In today’s hospitals, three generations of nurses, doctors and staff currently work side-by-side. With this mix of ages also comes varied expectations and working styles. These differences can either create tension or can produce opportunities. As the multi-generational workforce is present across all cultures and continents, experts from around the globe offer insight on how to make the most of what each generation has to offer.
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