How Can Nursing Administration Best Lead Millennial and Gen Z Nurses?

Over time, new generations join the workforce, changing team dynamics and work expectations. The same is true for the nursing field. Millennial and Gen Z nurses have distinct expectations and experiences that shape their professional skills and outlook, including familiarity with certain types of technology, more rapid or abbreviated communication styles and other unique characteristics.

Interprofessional leadership is critical for today’s nurse administrators when so many generations of nurses work together. Radford University’s online Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) in Nursing Administration program aims to develop the traits necessary to create cohesive teams. Through courses such as the Interprofessional Leadership and Advanced Nursing Practice Roles course, graduates will explore interprofessional collaboration’s benefits and how to lead a diverse healthcare workforce.

What Are the Characteristics of Millennial and Gen Z Nurses?

Each generation has different characteristics that guide how nurse leaders should engage and motivate them.

Millennials are individuals born between approximately 1982 and 2009. Most Millennials came of age when technology took off, so they have witnessed its benefits and grown comfortable with technology’s significant impacts on their professional and personal lives. Still, they typically have lived highly structured lives, as noted by Nursing Management, and can benefit from clear expectations and open communication and feedback.

In addition, Millennial nurses are more likely to maintain loyalty to individual managers instead of corporations. They also often exhibit a strong work ethic but expect consistent recognition of their efforts and contributions.

Gen Z, also known as the iGeneration or Gen Next, includes individuals born between approximately 1995 and 2012, coinciding with the rise of public internet use. Because they have never known a time without widespread internet access, they are considered “digital natives” and have an innate ability to navigate and develop technological systems. According to American Nurse, Gen Z nurses may desire diversity, prefer immediate feedback and action, and tend to be open-minded yet individualistic.

How Can Nurse Administrators Lead Younger Generations?

Leading Millennial and Gen Z nurses requires understanding their unique characteristics, preferences and motivations. Here are some strategies for nursing administration to effectively lead nurses from these generations:

  • Embrace technology. These two generations have grown up in a digital era and are incredibly tech-savvy — something administrators can learn from. By making the necessary tools and resources available to younger nurses and giving them some leeway to experiment, they can identify ways to enhance work processes and improve patient care and nurse well-being.
  • Offer opportunities for collaboration. Building a cohesive intergenerational team that functions seamlessly is a major challenge for nurse administrators. Fortunately, cooperation and teamwork are essential to Millennial and Gen Z nurses, who are often resourceful and innovative. Administrators who provide opportunities to exchange ideas and engage with one another can help meet this foundational need and discover new perspectives simultaneously.
  • Prioritize inclusivity. The younger generations are some of the most diverse to date and highly value social justice and equity. Nurse leaders who demonstrate a commitment to diversity and inclusivity, take appropriate action to support nurses from all walks of life and create a greater sense of belonging may earn the respect and loyalty of up-and-coming nurses.
  • Create a better work-life balance. Previous generations focused on discipline and hard work, frequently staying at the same job for decades, even in undesirable conditions. Millennial and Gen Z nurses are much less likely to do so, according to BMC Nursing, and will look for opportunities where leadership offers greater freedom, flexibility and work-life balance.

While easing tensions between generations has its challenges, nurse administrators have many tools at their disposal to establish competent and cohesive teams. By acknowledging the differences among groups and their unique preferences and abilities, administrators can create a collaborative work environment that values the contributions of nurses from all generations. An MSN in Nursing Administration from Radford University can provide the nurse leadership skills administrators need to build and support intergenerational nursing teams.

Learn more about Radford University’s online MSN in Nursing Administration program.

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